This $260,000+ solar-powered EV is built to be efficient but is no speed maestroby Amreetam Basu, on
If you are an EV collector or someone who wants to try out new EV technologies at any price, there is good news for you. The Lightyear 0 is the world’s first production-spec solar-powered EV, with a range of about 388 miles. Interestingly, you can drive up to 21 miles daily in the summer months without even thinking of charging the battery thanks to solar panels. This long-range EV is a unique creation, but has been priced higher than many capable EVs and has changed a lot since you last saw it in 2019.
Lightyear, a Dutch startup company, first unveiled the concept in 2019 as Lightyear One and has been testing it since 2016. It has finally been revealed in production-spec and is set to launch in Fall 2022. The differences in design between the concept and the production car are not significant, but there is nothing to dislike, at least on the design front. The front has sleek triple-beam LED headlights and a curved hood. However, the liftback design is familiar to the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX, one of the most efficient Mercs ever built.
Now what has come to attention is the Lightyear 0’s capabilities. Thanks to 53.8 square feet of “double-curved” solar panels, the car can charge itself on the go or while parked. With a solar yield of about 6,835 miles per year, you can drive up to 21 miles per day for months (up to seven months if you are based in Spain or Portugal), which is insane. But like any other EV, you can plug in and charge the 60-kWh battery yourself. With a full charge, the estimated range is 388 miles, about 120 miles lower than the $140,000 Lucid Air Grand Touring. Also, the 0 has a body made of reinforced carbon fiber, which helps it weigh in at a relatively low 3,472 pounds. Lightyear claims that the 0 has a 0.19 drag coefficient, which is better than the Lucid Air but not as good as the EQXX’s 0.17.
With the evolving technology, the Lightyear 0 has benefitted well. It has four individual motors fitted to the wheels, which results in added efficiency and less power loss due to heat. Together, the motors produce a mere 174 horsepower but a strong 1,269 pound-feet of torque. As a result, the EV startup claims that the Lightyear 0 can go 0-62 in ten seconds and reach a top speed of just 100 mph.
The cabin features sustainable resources like vegan leather, microfiber upholstery, and materials made from recycled plastic. The cabin can hold up to five people and is decently spacious for a 200.1-inch sedan. Furthermore, the dashboard holds a 10.1-inch touchscreen display in the center, which runs Android Automotive OS, like Volvo cars. A fully digital instrument console lies ahead of the driver-side dash.
The Lightyear 0 is renamed because of the company’s journey of building an EV from scratch. Deliveries of the Lightyear 0 will commence in November 2022 with a maximum of just 946 examples to be made. For the price of €250,000, which roughly translates to $261,000, the Lightyear 0 is ready to set its feet in the automotive world. However, the company has confirmed that they have started developing a budget EV priced at around €30,000 or $31,300 and is scheduled to launch at the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025.