The Dutch startup Lightyear emerged from the solar team from the TU Eindhoven, has now officially presented its long-distance solar car Lightyear One. Production of the 149,000 Euro Lightyear One is scheduled to start in 2021.
The vehicle will be characterised by its efficiency, which, according to Lightyear, allows a WLTP range of 725 kilometres despite a relatively small battery. The company has not yet stated the battery capacity. However, the regular consumption of the five-seater, which is over five meters long, should be just 8.3 kWh/100 kilometres (83Wh/km). With a small battery, the vehicle becomes lighter, and the body has a very aerodynamic shape.
“The main goal of this car is to go where electric cars reach their limits,” says Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear. “Research has shown that range and lack of charging capability are still the biggest concerns with electric mobility.”
That’s why the car’s roof and hood are made of five square meters of safety glass solar cells. This should be so stable that an “adult man can walk on them without causing bumps”. According to a calculator on the company’s website, the solar cells will be able to generate electricity for a range of up to 33 kilometres a day (seven kilometres in winter).
The rest of the power is charged via the quick charging station or directly at the socket. Since the battery is small, it is expected to be possible to charge up to 400 kilometres per night at a standard 230-volt outlet. The drive is to be provided by four wheel hub motors to keep the energy loss between battery and motor as low as possible. Lightyear has not named the technical specifications of the four motors, but because of the efficiency they are aiming for it is unlikely to be very high. The company gives the acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h as ten seconds.
According to Hoefsloot, Lightyear has already sold the first 100 vehicles – but the pre-sale price of 119,000 Euro is 30,000 Euro below the later price. “Since new technology has a high unit cost, we have to start in an exclusive market,” says the CEO. He added that “next models we plan to develop will have a significantly lower purchase price. Besides, future models will be provided to autonomous and shared car fleets so that the purchase price can be divided amongst a large group of users.” In combination with the vehicle’s low operating costs, they want to offer “premium mobility at a low price per kilometre”.
Lightyear was founded in 2016 by graduates of Solar Team Eindhoven, which won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2013, 2015 and 2017.