Solar-powered vehicle start-up Lightyear says it will begin production later this year on its Lightyear 0 with solar panels mounted to the vehicle to recharge the electric battery.
The Netherlands-based Lightyear says it will produce fewer than one thousand of its solar cars, which will run about $265,000. The car will be the first solar car on the market. Solar panels will be mounted on the curved roof, hood, and trunk, providing energy to the electric battery while it drives.
Lightyear says the car will get about 388 miles on a single charge, with an additional 44 miles per day coming from the solar panels. Lightyear estimates each hour of sunlight will add up to six miles of charge to the battery.
“Lightyear 0 reinvents the wheel when it comes to energy consumption, range capability and charging,” the company says on its website.
“It’s built like no other electric car, charging on-the-go and gaining up to 70 kilometres of range per day from the sun alone. Our holistic design helps to get the most from every last joule of energy.”
According to Lightyear, places that receive a lot of sunlight, such as Spain or Portugal, won’t need recharging for months if commutes are fewer than 22 miles per day. Even in cloudier climates the car will run for about two months without a charge, making it a notable newcomer in the zero-emissions vehicle market.
“The powertrain is the most efficient in the world,” CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot said in a statement.
He says the car is lighter, and its aerodynamic shape and four in-wheel motors allow a smaller battery to perform as well or better than current EVs such as market leader, Tesla.
That means “the whole car is lighter,” he says, “and you get into this positive feedback cycle where everything can become lighter as well. That’s how we’ve been able to get to 1,575 kilograms. If you look at other cars that offer similar range, they’re all about 40 percent heavier.”
Lightyear plans to debut a more affordable model by 2025, the Lightyear Two, which is expected to cost about $31,000, putting it in the same category as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt. It’ll also bring it closer to Tesla’s Model 3. Lightyear Two would launch as restrictions on combustion engines will increase demand for affordable EVs. But the car is not currently slated for a U.S. launch.