The promises of this solar car seem too good to be true, but it will be interesting to see the results.
In recent years, we have heard many times about Lightyear, the ambitious Dutch startup that intends to revolutionize the electric car with its solar car. A little more than 5 years after its debut, it is now moving up a gear by formalizing the upcoming release of its Lightyear 0, presented as the very first production solar car in the world – even if other vehicles such as the Fischer Karma have in fact already snatched this title.
Indeed, with this funny sedan, Lightyear took the opposite view of Elon Musk who claimed that a car is not a relevant place to install a solar panel. The Lightyear 0 has no less than 5 m² of solar panels directly integrated into the chassis. And it’s not just about extra charging surfaces: it’s about the car’s main mode of power.
70 km of daily solar autonomy?
“Our cars are made to remain independent of the grid, recharging from the sun or, if necessary, from a standard power outlet. Every journey is clean, convenient and independent, powered by the journey itself”, explains the brand on the dedicated page.
On paper, it can therefore almost entirely do without a socket to supply itself with electricity. Indeed, the firm explains that in ideal conditions, the car could travel up to 70km per day without going through the charger box. Based on statistical studies of the behavior of European drivers, Lightyear estimates that his car could drive without being plugged in for… seven consecutive months if your journeys are short enough!
When it comes to performance, Lightyear has been keeping a low profile for now; we just know that the car has four motors (one per wheel) which together develop 176 horsepower. However, the manufacturer claims that in optimal conditions and starting with a full battery, its vehicle could cover around 625 km in one trip, with more than 500 km/h to 110 km/h on the expressway.
A prize worthy of its ambitions
Still, it is probably necessary to relativize all these beautiful promises. Remember that these figures were all collected under ideal conditions that are almost never met. He is already rare enough to benefit from perfect sunshine on smartly positioned panels on a fixed building; suffice to say that these conditions will be even rarer on a vehicle that will regularly pass behind trees, signs, buildings, etc.
This means that the average return will likely fall far short of expectations. The price, on the other hand, lives up to these extravagant announcements; it will indeed cost a quarter of a million euros (250.000 €) to afford this amazing machine. A price that may be all the more difficult to pass when we integrate doubts about its performance into the equation…
And in addition to being fortunate, it will also have to be faster than lightning since Lightyear plans to build less than 1000 copies. The proceeds were then to be used to launch the development of a second generation which promises to be considerably less expensive… but the first generation should already honor its ambitious promises. Case to follow!