Automotive

Lightyear unveils solar-powered One EV prototype

Lightyear unveils solar-powere...
The Lightyear One will have five square meters of solar cells on its roof and hood
The Lightyear One will have five square meters of solar cells on its roof and hood
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The Lightyear One will have five square meters of solar cells on its roof and hood
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The Lightyear One will have five square meters of solar cells on its roof and hood
Lightyear reckons that the One's solar cells will add up to 12 km of range for every hour of sunlight
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Lightyear reckons that the One's solar cells will add up to 12 km of range for every hour of sunlight
The 5,057 x 1,898 x 1,426 mm (1,990 x 747 x 561 in) Lightyear One is reported to be made from high-tech materials for a balance of low weight and high passenger safety
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The 5,057 x 1,898 x 1,426 mm (1,990 x 747 x 561 in) Lightyear One is reported to be made from high-tech materials for a balance of low weight and high passenger safety
The One's integrated solar cells are said to be capable of "generating up to 20,000 km worth of energy per year"
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The One's integrated solar cells are said to be capable of "generating up to 20,000 km worth of energy per year"
The Lightyear One will have an in-wheel motor at every corner
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The Lightyear One will have an in-wheel motor at every corner
The One sports a body shape designed to "cut through the air just like a raindrop
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The One sports a body shape designed to "cut through the air just like a raindrop
A render of the proposed interior layout for the Lightyear One
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A render of the proposed interior layout for the Lightyear One
The Lightyear One is reported to have a WLTP range of 725 km per charge
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The Lightyear One is reported to have a WLTP range of 725 km per charge
View gallery - 8 images

Details were scant when Lightyear first revealed plans to build a solar-powered electric car back in 2017, apart from a claimed 800 km range per charge. Last night the company took the wraps of the pre-production prototype, with 725 km (450 mi) of WLTP range, a high price tag and plans to deliver the vehicle in 2021.

As we've seen with the Sion family car, adding solar panels to the outside of an electric road car won't provide enough charge to fill up the batteries, at best you're looking at a modest range extension. Yet Lightyear is claiming that the PV cells on its upcoming One EV could generate enough energy to drive the car for up to 20,000 km (almost 12,500 mi) per year.

"On one hand, that will lead to an exceptional range of 725 km (WLTP) on a relatively small battery," said the company's CEO, Lex Hoefsloot. "On the other hand, it can charge directly from the Sun because its energy consumption is much lower, generating up to 20,000 km worth of energy per year. Moreover, all of the charging options out there become easier to use because you get a lot more range for the same amount of energy charged. So effectively, you charge a lot faster from any power outlet. You can charge up to 400 km per night from ordinary 230 V sockets. That's great for road trips because you don't need charging infrastructure."

It might be tempting to just dismiss such claims as flights of fancy, but the Lightyear team has energy efficiency form, being made up of members of Solar Team Eindhoven – winners of the Bridgestone World Solar challenge in 2013, 2015 and 2017. "With Lightyear One, we want to show that our technology enabled us to build one of the most sustainable cars on the market," revealed Hoefsloot.

The 5,057 x 1,898 x 1,426 mm (1,990 x 747 x 561 in) Lightyear One is reported to be made from high-tech materials for a balance of low weight and high passenger safety
The 5,057 x 1,898 x 1,426 mm (1,990 x 747 x 561 in) Lightyear One is reported to be made from high-tech materials for a balance of low weight and high passenger safety

The One has five square meters (53.8 sq ft) of solar cells housed beneath safety glass integrated into the roof and hood. The company reckons that should be sufficient for up to 12 km (7.5 mi) of range per hour – potentially almost 100 km of range while you're working your eight-hour shift and the car's soaking up sunlight in the company car park.

The vehicle can also be charged at home, or at public charging stations, and supports fast charging for over 500 km of range per hour when connected to a 60 kW charger.

The 5,057 x 1,898 x 1,426 mm (1,990 x 747 x 561 in) five-seater is reported to be made from high-tech materials for a balance of low weight and high passenger safety, and sports a body shape designed to "cut through the air just like a raindrop."

"We are still improving the outer shape of the car to reduce resistance," said Aero engineer Annemiek Koers. "I love this creative process. It is a constant challenge, always looking for things that will lower the air resistance even further so we get closer to our ultimate resistance goal. Right now the Cd is estimated to be below 0.20, well below the current market leaders, but we are always looking to create an even lower number."

There's an in-wheel motor at every corner, selected to maximize efficiency while allowing for a lighter build, and the EV will be able to go from standstill to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 10 seconds. As you might expect, there'll be a companion app available too, the car will rock Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it will benefit from over-the-air updates.

Lightyear reckons that the One's solar cells will add up to 12 km of range for every hour of sunlight
Lightyear reckons that the One's solar cells will add up to 12 km of range for every hour of sunlight

Lightyear says that early adopters have already put money down for over a hundred One EVs, which carries a price tag of €149,000 (about US$170,000). "Since new technology has a high unit cost, we have to start in an exclusive market; Lightyear One is the first long-range solar car and has staggering specifications," Hoefsloot said.

Naturally, we'll have to wait until those performance claims are confirmed by real-world testing, but this certainly looks like a development worth keeping an eye on. Future plans include making later models available to ride-shares and fleets, and the company is eventually aiming to make sustainable cars more affordable than vehicles running on combustion engines.

Source: Lightyear

Details were scant when Lightyear first revealed plans to build a solar-powered electric car back in 2017, apart from a claimed 800 km range per charge. Last night the company took the wraps of the pre-production prototype, with 725 km (450 mi) of WLTP range, a high price tag and plans to deliver the vehicle in 2021.

As we've seen with the Sion family car, adding solar panels to the outside of an electric road car won't provide enough charge to fill up the batteries, at best you're looking at a modest range extension. Yet Lightyear is claiming that the PV cells on its upcoming One EV could generate enough energy to drive the car for up to 20,000 km (almost 12,500 mi) per year.

"On one hand, that will lead to an exceptional range of 725 km (WLTP) on a relatively small battery," said the company's CEO, Lex Hoefsloot. "On the other hand, it can charge directly from the Sun because its energy consumption is much lower, generating up to 20,000 km worth of energy per year. Moreover, all of the charging options out there become easier to use because you get a lot more range for the same amount of energy charged. So effectively, you charge a lot faster from any power outlet. You can charge up to 400 km per night from ordinary 230 V sockets. That's great for road trips because you don't need charging infrastructure."

It might be tempting to just dismiss such claims as flights of fancy, but the Lightyear team has energy efficiency form, being made up of members of Solar Team Eindhoven – winners of the Bridgestone World Solar challenge in 2013, 2015 and 2017. "With Lightyear One, we want to show that our technology enabled us to build one of the most sustainable cars on the market," revealed Hoefsloot.

The 5,057 x 1,898 x 1,426 mm (1,990 x 747 x 561 in) Lightyear One is reported to be made from high-tech materials for a balance of low weight and high passenger safety
The 5,057 x 1,898 x 1,426 mm (1,990 x 747 x 561 in) Lightyear One is reported to be made from high-tech materials for a balance of low weight and high passenger safety

The One has five square meters (53.8 sq ft) of solar cells housed beneath safety glass integrated into the roof and hood. The company reckons that should be sufficient for up to 12 km (7.5 mi) of range per hour – potentially almost 100 km of range while you're working your eight-hour shift and the car's soaking up sunlight in the company car park.

The vehicle can also be charged at home, or at public charging stations, and supports fast charging for over 500 km of range per hour when connected to a 60 kW charger.

The 5,057 x 1,898 x 1,426 mm (1,990 x 747 x 561 in) five-seater is reported to be made from high-tech materials for a balance of low weight and high passenger safety, and sports a body shape designed to "cut through the air just like a raindrop."

"We are still improving the outer shape of the car to reduce resistance," said Aero engineer Annemiek Koers. "I love this creative process. It is a constant challenge, always looking for things that will lower the air resistance even further so we get closer to our ultimate resistance goal. Right now the Cd is estimated to be below 0.20, well below the current market leaders, but we are always looking to create an even lower number."

There's an in-wheel motor at every corner, selected to maximize efficiency while allowing for a lighter build, and the EV will be able to go from standstill to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 10 seconds. As you might expect, there'll be a companion app available too, the car will rock Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it will benefit from over-the-air updates.

Lightyear reckons that the One's solar cells will add up to 12 km of range for every hour of sunlight
Lightyear reckons that the One's solar cells will add up to 12 km of range for every hour of sunlight

Lightyear says that early adopters have already put money down for over a hundred One EVs, which carries a price tag of €149,000 (about US$170,000). "Since new technology has a high unit cost, we have to start in an exclusive market; Lightyear One is the first long-range solar car and has staggering specifications," Hoefsloot said.

Naturally, we'll have to wait until those performance claims are confirmed by real-world testing, but this certainly looks like a development worth keeping an eye on. Future plans include making later models available to ride-shares and fleets, and the company is eventually aiming to make sustainable cars more affordable than vehicles running on combustion engines.

Source: Lightyear

View gallery - 8 images
6 comments
minivini
Wow - moderately interested until I saw the price. That’s a bucket of nope for me. Far too many EV and battery hybrids that are more attractive, more sporty, more luxurious, and much more reasonably priced than this. I know this is more than slapping a bunch of PV panels on top of an EV, but still - $170,000?!
Daishi
Doing some math a random 360W LG roof solar panel is 18.5 sq ft. The car is 53.8 sq ft but for sake of the math we can assume it's 3x the surface area of the roof panel and the same efficiency for 1080W. Assume 7 sun hours per day for a sunny area at 7560W for the day. Their 12,500 mi/year estimate puts it at 34.2 miles a day, in order to do that with the optimistic back of napkin solar math it would require an efficiency of 221 watts/mile which isn't outside of possible. I've seen people in Model 3's average in the range of 250 watts/mile or so. In reality panels are never 100% efficient and you have shade, angles and other factors but while their figures are still pretty optimistic the back of napkin math is at least closer than I was expecting it to be. Pulling in about 20-25 miles a day of range from panels is probably realistic and some people don't drive much more than that on an average day. There are still other issues like safety, repair costs, insurance rates etc. to consider but it's interesting.
FabianLamaestra
OMG, NO. US$170k ? Tesla will have 400 Mile range cars for 50k in a year or two with their Maxwell acquisition. A 10KW Solar array can be installed for 20k which can charge my Tesla in 1 day.
Gregg Eshelman
I see many styling cues reminiscent of the 1985 Ford Probe V show car.
bql
ethanol is liquid sunshine, so whats wrong with combustion engines?
Doodah
People complaining about cost are missing the point. The main thing to get excited about is that someone is proving the possibility of a car that can do the majority of it's transport via direct sunshine. Obviously this one isn't going to be for the masses, but neither is any New tech. Think about when digital cameras first came out, the first cell phones? I remember the first Apple computers cost $4000, and that was in the 80s (probably more like 10k in today’s dollars). The first ebikes, the first full frame digital cameras, the first electric cars, etc. The big hurdle is proving something can be done. Affordability is an inevitability that comes down the road. Patience.