Electric vehicles do not produce emissions. However, what if you can combine solar panels with electric vehicles? This will reduce dependence on electricity that might come from emission-producing power plants for charging.
This is the third part of our series of articles on solar electric vehicles (SEVs). Here, we look at the Lightyear One.
Lightyear, a Dutch startup, makes the Lightyear One SEV. The company was founded in 2016 by a group of engineers who took part in the World Solar Challenge. The first prototype of the Lightyear One appeared in 2019, with a striking design.
Lightyear said the SEV sedan would have a range of 725 km, but the star attraction was the solar panels embedded in the roof and hood. The company said it would be highly efficient and produce about 12 km per hour. This will allow buyers to drive without relying on chargers and head anywhere.
However, if you must use a charger, you will gain 35 km per hour on a 3.7 kW charger, while a 22 kW charger will add 209 km. On a 60 kW fast charger, Lightyear promises the car will get 570 km in under an hour.
The efficiency is not limited to the solar panels, as the car will consume only 83 Wh/km, significantly less than other electric vehicles. Power is produced by four independent electric motors that ensure excellent traction control and maximized energy efficiency on all types of surfaces. They will push the SEV from 0 to 60 mph in less than ten seconds.
Inside, the Lightyear One will seat five riders comfortably, with three at the back. There is the obligatory touchscreen center console where you can control some of the settings. The car integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There is room to charge your phone wirelessly, and you even get a couple of cup holders.
Lightyear has an app to connect with your car and has promised not to abandon the car with over-the-air updates to make it better with time. You can even access your Lightyear One with a wireless key.
Since Lightyear is a startup without production might, it has teamed up with Finnish manufacturer Valmet Automotive, which will start building prototypes in early 2022, with plans for full production later in the year. The initial run will produce 1,000 units.
Valmet has made cars for big names like Saab, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche, meaning Lightyear is in competent hands. Lightyear has also partnered with Bridgestone for tires.
Cost-wise, the Lightyear One is competing in the ultra-luxury range, with a price of around $165,000. The company has raised about $100 million from investors.