Installing solar cells on electric vehicles is certainly not a new idea, but it’s still in its infancy. Luckily, a Dutch startup called Lightyear already works on an electric car that will directly charge from the sun, improving the overall range. As a matter of fact, in some sunny places, you can drive the Lightyear One pretty much on solar power alone throughout the year.
That “pretty much” is very important because the Lightyear One is not only solar-powered. More precisely, it’s a battery electric vehicle that charges like every other electric car, but one that also has solar cells for added range. According to the company, the One has a range of up to 500 miles on a charge. The reason why this futuristic-looking car can travel that much are the solar cells on the roof and hood – they add around 7,5 miles of charge every hour, effectively extending the range. Lightyear also promises at least 250 miles of range in the winter, which is better than almost every other electric car out there.
Those 7,5 miles of charge every hour are probably enough for daily driving for most people. For example, in sunny places like Florida, you can get 853 miles of range per month on average, which translates to around 10,000 miles annually free of charge. In other words, you only need to charge the Lightyear One for longer road trips. It also means that the One will be the cleanest vehicle on the market as most of its electricity will come from the sun.
To achieve this astonishing numbers, Lightyear designed the car to be as slippery as possible. Numbers are still not provided, but the Dutch say that the One will have the lowest drag coefficient of any vehicle on the market. Also, the car is equipped with an electric motor at each wheel, which is more energy-efficient than using one motor for both wheels. Lightyear also works on reducing the weight of the car by using state-of-the-art materials.
Right now, the Lightyear One is still only in the prototype phase. However, the Dutch startup already has buyers waiting in line for the car and taking preorders. If everything goes right, we could see the Lightyear One on the market in a few years.
Image Credit: Lightyear One