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7/8/2019 | 4 MINUTE READ

Lightyear One prototype solar car uses carbon fiber to help meet 725-km range

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2021 production to be followed by future models for autonomous, fleet and lower-cost/higher-volume markets.

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Lightyear (Helmond, The Netherlands) unveiled the first long-range solar car on June 25 to a select audience of investors, customers, partners and press in Katwijk, Netherlands. “This moment represents a new era of driving,” says Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear. “Two years of dreaming, thinking and working hard have led to this milestone, which is a giant leap towards achieving our mission of making clean mobility available to everyone.”

Lightyear was founded in 2016 by alumni of Solar Team Eindhoven, which won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2013, 2015 and 2017. The company has received several awards, grants and support from key investors, which allowed it to develop a working prototype for the first long-range solar car in just two years. “With Lightyear One, we want to show that our technology enabled us to build one of the most sustainable cars on the market that also offers great convenience,” says Hoefsloot.

 

Pioneering prototype

Hoefsloot explains that Lightyear started from scratch, following not convention but only the laws of physics, to purposefully design a car that “gets the most out of every ray of sunshine. The main goal of the car is to fill in where electric cars fall short. Research has shown that range and the lack of charging options are still the top concerns that people have when considering electric cars.”

“We are solving these issues with what we call ultra-efficiency. On one hand, that will lead to an exceptional range of 725 km (WLTP) on a relatively small battery. 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 230V sockets. That’s great for road trips because you don’t need charging infrastructure.”

  • The car is constructed from aluminum and carbon fiber composites to have the lowest weight possible while maintaining stringent passenger safety.
  • Lightyear One is propelled by four independently driven wheels, so no energy is lost in transit from the engine to the wheel.
  • The roof and hood are comprised of five square meters of integrated solar cells in safety glass so strong that a fully-grown adult can walk on them without causing dents.
  • In addition to solar power, Lightyear One can be charged at a (fast)charging station or even a regular outlet.

“Climate change is one of the biggest problems that we humans have faced in our history,” emphasizes Hoefsloot. “It is such a frightening development that it is almost paralyzing. We decided to do the opposite; as engineers, we believed we could do something. Lightyear One represents a huge opportunity to change mobility for the better.” 

According to Hoefsloot, this is just the beginning. “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. The next models we plan to develop will have a significantly lower purchase price. In addition, future models will be provided to autonomous and shared car fleets, so the purchase price can be divided amongst a large group of users. Combined with the low operating costs of the vehicle, we aim to provide premium mobility for a low price per kilometer. A third, final step will be to provide truly sustainable cars that are more affordable to use than the cost of gas you need to drive a combustion car. This will prove to be our most important tipping point in the near future, and it will pave the way for a car fleet that is one hundred percent sustainable.”

 

Availability 

Lightyear will be ramping up production of the Lightyear One in 2021. The first 100 cars have already been reserved. Via the Lightyear website, buyers can now reserve one of the 500 Lightyear Ones for a reservation fee of €119,000 (expected delivery in 2021).

 

Lightyear One prototype solar car
 

 

About Lightyear

Lightyear's mission is to make clean mobility available to everyone, everywhere. Lightyear develops electric cars with energy-efficient design and integrated solar cells. Drivers could go up to 20,000 kilometers a year on the sun, depending on the climate. The fast-growing company was founded in 2016 and now has more than 100 employees.The team is a mix of young talent and experience from the automotive industry, including former employees of Tesla and Ferrari. Lightyear also opened its own production facility in Helmond. In less than two years, the company has raised over 20 million euros from reservations, investments and grants. They were awarded CES Climate Change Innovator, Postcode Lottery Green Challenge Finalist, and, recently, Lightyear received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 848620www.lightyear.one

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