The Lightyear 0 solar powered car

The Lightyear 0 will be the world's first solar-powered production EV | Source: Lightyear

Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle Lightyear 0 Finds its Place in the Sun

The world’s first-ever solar-powered production car is just a few months from being available to buy.

Dutch start-up Lightyear has announced that its first prototype car Lightyear 0 will test drive in July, with production starting in the second half of 2022 and the first deliveries being made before the end of the year.

An electric vehicle with a record-breaking drag coefficient of less than 0.19, Lightyear 0 is shaping up to be an industry-leading EV. Through its five square meters of curved solar panels on the hood and roof, Lightyear 0 delivers almost 70 kilometres of extra range in ideal conditions. And after six years in development, it is finally ready to hit the road.

Of course, the ‘ideal conditions’ that endow a theoretically unlimited range can not be relied upon and the weather plays a big part in the solar panels being exposed to the sun. But the idea is good enough for quite a few manufacturers including Mercedes, Hyundai, Tesla, and Toyota to start developing their own solar cell-powered electric cars.

The first ever solar powered production car, the Lightyear 0
The Lightyear 0 | Source: Lightyear

The Lightyear 0 will initially cost A$375,000 before the company produces a more affordable offering in 2025, targeting autonomous and shared car fleets to spread the cost. The company claims that the solar arrays, the collection of panels, add 11,000km of range per year and that the car can be charged to 400 kilometres range overnight from a standard 240-volt connection. It will also support fast charging outlets.

Lightyear says the 0 will be able to achieve 1,000 kilometres of range between charges and is hoping that the increased efficiency from four motors, one for each wheel, will make the car more desirable given that its performance statistics are not the mind-blowing numbers we are becoming accustomed to with EVs.

A comparatively small 60kWh power pack supplies it with 174 horsepower and 1,269 lb-ft of torque, allowing the car to accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 10 seconds and achieve a maximum speed of 160kph.

Focusing on efficiency where other manufacturers have produced high-performance electric cars, the Lightyear 0 uses 35 per cent less electricity than the world’s best-selling EV when travelling at 110 kph.

Solar panels help a constant 1.05 kW of power to trickle into the battery and the company claims that the time between charges, even in climates such as the Netherlands where the vehicle is produced, can be as long as two months. In sunny countries such as Spain or Portugal, that period can stretch to over seven months.

With the recent spate of EV releases from established car companies, EV start-ups face a more competitive market than in years gone by. As for Lightyear, the future looks bright with its 0 model set to make history as the world’s first solar-powered production car.

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