The Autonomist

Long-range solar car opens ‘a new era in driving’

What’s been dubbed the world’s first long-range solar car has been unveiled in the Netherlands. The prototype vehicle opens up ‘a new era in driving’ said its developer and coupled with autonomous capabilities, could revolutionise mobility.

The most striking feature of the Lightyear One saloon is that its roof and bonnet are comprised of five square metres of integrated solar cells, which charge the batteries continuously whenever the vehicle is in daylight.

The panels – which are strong enough to support a fully grown adult – add 12 km/h to the car’s range during daylight exposure and even extends the range as you drive.

While the climate and driving frequency will determine the percentage of the mileage that the sun will provide,Lightyear estimates that someone driving the national average of 20,000 km/year in the cloudy Netherlands would get about 40 per cent of their mileage from solar energy.

Drivers could go up to 20,000 kilometres a year on the sun, says the firm, depending on the climate.

The official rated range is 725 km (450 miles), according to WLTP, and energy use is 83 Wh/km. The €118,000 car, which can take five adults, can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 10 seconds.

Lightyear was founded in 2016 by alumni of Solar Team Eindhoven, which won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Since the launch, Lightyear has received awards, grants and support from key investors. This allowed them to develop a prototype for the first long-range solar car in just two years.

Responding to criticism that Lightyear One’s price tag, Lightyear founder Lex Hoefsloot, said: ‘Since new technology has a high unit cost, we have to start in an exclusive market.

‘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 kilometre.’

Lightyear was founded in 2016 by alumni of Solar Team Eindhoven, which won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Since the launch, Lightyear has received awards, grants and support from key investors.

By Ray Molony, Technology and Markets Editor

Thursday 27 June 2019