Lightyear 0, the electric car that also runs on solar energy

At €250,000 per vehicle, the likelihood of finding this mass-production vehicle will soon remain limited. But the concept is nonetheless particularly interesting. Lightyear 0 is powered by an electric motor and not by photovoltaic panels. Designed by a Dutch company, founded in 2016 by students from the University of Eindhoven, this electric car required no less than 6 years of research and development to develop.

Everything has been thought of from its inception to make it as efficient as possible on the move. Goal: require as little energy as possible. So Lightyear 0 has four engines – one for each wheel. And, despite the large footprint (5 meters long), its weight is reasonable: 1,575 kilos. In addition, it has excellent aerodynamics. This allows it to only need 10.5 kWh to travel 100 km at 110 km/h. Basically, its autonomy is therefore 560 kilometers when driving at 110 km / h on the highway. And Lightyear announces a maximum range of 725 km according to the WLTP cycle (homologation standard standard).

With its sharp lines, the Lightyear 0 is reminiscent of concept cars like the Mercedes IAA or the McLaren Speedtail. Photo: Lightyear.

5 m2 of solar panels to increase the Lightyear 0’s autonomy

Where the Lightyear 0 differs from other electric vehicles is in the hood, roof and trunk. The entire surface of the car facing the sky was covered with solar panels. This represents approximately 5 m2 of sensors operating on solar energy. This allows it to recharge both when parked outdoors and when in use. And that’s not negligible: the Dutch company estimates that, under ideal conditions, this can add up to 70 kilometers of autonomy per day.

The entire upper surface of the vehicle is covered with photovoltaic panels.  Illustration: Light year.
The entire upper surface of the vehicle is covered with photovoltaic panels. Photo: Lightyear.

Assuming a daily commute from home to work to home that does not exceed 35 kilometers and with good sun conditions (as in Spain or Portugal in summer for example), Lightyear estimates that it is possible to drive about 7 months without needing to recharge your vehicle. through an electrical terminal. In less favorable conditions, as in the Netherlands, the autonomy reaches 2 months without charging the cable. It is far from despicable.

The car's lines were optimized in the wind tunnel to increase aerodynamics.  In addition, the vehicle is equipped with ultra-efficient Bridgestone tires developed especially for it.  Photo: Lightyear.
The car’s lines were optimized in the wind tunnel to increase aerodynamics. In addition, the vehicle is equipped with ultra-efficient Bridgestone tires developed especially for it. Photo: Lightyear.

946 units for the first series production

Lightyear plans to launch the first series production in the fall. It will manufacture 946 units, not one more, each sold for 250,000 euros. The first delivery is scheduled for November. If the price is exorbitant, the brand already plans to unveil a new model for 2024-2025. A much more affordable vehicle as its sale price should be around 30,000 euros this time around.

Lightyear's production lines 0. Photo: Lightyear.
Lightyear’s production lines 0. Photo: Lightyear.

Other manufacturers are also exploring solar energy as a complement to gain autonomy. Mercedes presented a model also equipped with photovoltaic panels (117 cells) in early January 2022. The Vision EQXX could thus gain 25 kilometers of autonomy per day. Likewise, Toyota has already offered a limited edition of its Prius Hybrid in 2021. Solar panels have been added to the vehicle’s roof.

Enough to please some French people, of whom around 60% are thinking of equipping themselves with an electric car by 2030. A trend strongly aligned with the European market, as supply increases and prices become more affordable. And that autonomy improves.

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