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.