With the One, the Dutch company Lightyear has developed an electric car that uses solar cells to generate its own electricity and is therefore intended to make itself a little independent of charging at the charging station. It should consume significantly less energy than other electric vehicles.

The use of electricity instead of petrol or diesel is not only an advantage but also a disadvantage of electric cars. After all, charging the battery takes quite a bit longer than filling up with fuel. In addition, the range of e-cars still unsettles car buyers.

However, the Dutch company Lightyear claims to have mastered these challenges with the Lightyear One. The first long-distance solar car is supposed to generate electricity independently from solar cells with an area of ​​five square meters, which are installed in the vehicle roof and in the bonnet. These are enclosed in safety glass for its protection.

A “unique vehicle architecture and technology” and an aluminum chassis should lead to a high level of efficiency in the all-electric sedan. A range of up to 70 kilometers per day should be possible using the solar cells. Calculated over a year, the manufacturer promises a range of 7,000 to 20,000 kilometers thanks to solar energy – depending on the climate.

With a consumption of 83 Wh per kilometer, the electric car consumes two to three times less energy than any other electric vehicle on the market. The approximately 5.06 meter long and almost 1.90 meter wide five-seater therefore achieves a maximum range of 725 kilometers according to WLTP. With a charging time of one hour, the Lightyear One should be able to charge 12 kilometers using the built-in solar cells, 209 kilometers at public charging stations with 22 kW and with a quick charge with 60 kW electricity for a range of 570 kilometers.

The Lightyear One has four independently controlled motors and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in under ten seconds. The manufacturer has not yet given an exact value. It is known that the maximum torque is 1.920 Nm and the cW value is less than 0.20. In addition, the luggage compartment holds 780 liters and can be expanded to around 1,700 liters.

Lex Hoefsloot, CEO of Lightyear says: “Since the company was founded, it has been about developing the optimal technology for our cars. By doing that, we are a good step closer to seeing Lightyears on the roads.” A reversing camera, a parking camera and two side cameras replace the classic mirrors. A built-in display shows the driver the charge level of the battery and the range generated by solar energy. In addition, the standard equipment includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so that functions of a smartphone can be used in the infotainment system of the car.

Founded in 2016 by students from Eindhoven University of Technology, the company relies on recycled carbon for the body. Purely plant-based, recycled materials are also used in the interior of the Lightyear One.

Start of production in the second half of 2022

After Lightyear unveiled its first driving prototype, the Lightyear One, in September 2019, the company recently validated the core technology of the One model; Among other things, crash tests of the series-ready car and its road approval are still pending. The first 150 copies of the Lightyear One Pioneer Edition are already sold out.

The start of production is planned for the second half of 2022, for which Lightyear has commissioned the Finnish vehicle contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive. The first copies should roll off the assembly line in Finland and be delivered in the EU, Norway and Switzerland from late summer.

The Lightyear One will be produced as a small series and should enable the market launch of the Lightyear Two for the masses – similar to what Tesla did with its first production vehicle, the Roadster.

The Limited Edition of the One is currently available for 250 euros. It is based on the technology of the Lightyear Two, which will eventually come onto the market as a production model in 2024/25. The starting price of the One is 30,000 euros, a relatively lower price for an electric sedan.

Electric car with solar roof is nothing new

The idea of ​​equipping an electric car with solar cells is not new. With the Sion, the Munich start-up Sono Motors is also developing a vehicle with built-in solar cells in the vehicle roof and body. It should be able to generate an average of 112 kilometers per week using pure solar energy. According to the manufacturer, drivers will have to charge up to four times less than conventional electric cars in the same vehicle class with a similar battery size.

The electric range is therefore 305 kilometers with a battery capacity of 54 kWh. According to the manufacturer, charging to 80 percent usually takes 35 minutes at a fast charging station and five hours with a type 2 plug. Production of the Sion is scheduled to start in the second half of 2023 and, like the Lightyear One, will be carried out by Valmet Automotive in Finland. 43,000 vehicles are expected to roll off the production line every year. Customers can already reserve the 28,500 euro electric car for 500 euros.

With the Vision EQXX, Mercedes has also developed an electric car with solar cells in the roof. Under ideal conditions, an additional range of 25 kilometers should be possible on long-distance journeys. According to Mercedes, the prototype presented at the beginning of the year should have an energy consumption of less than ten kWh per 100 kilometers. Accordingly, the vehicle with a battery capacity of 100 kWh has a range of over 1,000 kilometers according to WLTP. However, it is unlikely that the Vision EQXX will be produced as a series vehicle. Its technology should nevertheless find its way into production models in the coming years.

With its hybrid car Prius, Toyota already has a vehicle on the market that is equipped with a solar roof. In addition to a combustion engine, the compact car has two electric motors with an electric range of over 50 kilometers according to the manufacturer. The solar roof should be able to provide energy for only five kilometers. The purchase price starts at 38,000 euros.

Quellen: Lightyear, Sono Motors, Toyota, ADAC, Mercedes