New electric car charges itself with sunlight

Dutch tech company Lightyear plans to launch an electric car that uses solar panels to boost charging. The Lightyear One saloon, with an aerodynamic Italian look, promises a range of up to 725 km (WLTP), thanks in part to solar cells that enable the car to charge itself from daylight. The company claims that if you drive a Lightyear One 20,000 km/year in cloudy northern Europe, you would get about 40% of your mileage from solar energy.


The challenge for EV manufacturers has always been the lack of available space on a car for enough solar panels to make a difference. To date, on-road solar output has only succeeded in powering low watt accessories such as sound and air co systems. The Lightyear One packs a surprising 5 square metres of solar panels into the roof and hood, with cells claimed to be 20% more efficient than tradition ones.  In addition, the cell glass is so strong a fully-grown adult can walk on it without causing dents. 


With a price tag of €149,000 (VAT inc.), the luxury Lightyear One certainly doesn’t come cheap, although the company says that 100 “pioneer edition” models have already been sold ahead of the 2021 launch at a special price of €119,000. It’s a promising step forward – but we can’t call it “cleaner mobility” until the technology trickles down to lower vehicle price segments.