Lightyear, a company founded by alumni of Solar Team Eindhoven, introduced the first long-range solar car today. The prototype was presented to a select audience of investors, customers, partners and press at the break of dawn in the TheaterHangaar in Katwijk, the Netherlands. The first 100 cars have already been reserved via the Lightyear website, with expected delivery in 2021.
The Lightyear One, as it’s called, has been engineered starting from an untraditional perspective, following not convention but only the laws of physics, to purposefully design a car that ‘gets the most out of every ray of sunshine’. “Our main goal is to fill in where other electric cars fall short,” comments Lightyear CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot. “Research has shown that range and the lack of charging options are still the top concerns that people have when considering electric cars.”
Hoefsloot continues: “We’re solving these issues with what we call ‘ultra-efficiency’. On one hand, that will lead to an exceptional range of 725 km on a relatively small battery. On the other hand, it can charge directly from the sun because its energy consumption is much lower, generating up to 20,000 km worth of energy per year. Moreover, you can charge up to 400 km per night from ordinary 230 V sockets. That’s great for road trips because you don’t need charging infrastructure.”
The Lightyear One is constructed from high-tech materials to have the lowest weight possible while maintaining stringent passenger safety. Moreover, it’s propelled by four independently driven wheels, so no energy is lost in transit from the engine to the wheel. The roof and hood are comprised of five square meters of integrated solar cells in safety glass so strong that a fully-grown adult can walk on them without causing dents. In addition to solar power, the Lightyear One can be charged at a (fast) charging station or even at a regular outlet.
Via the Lightyear website, buyers can now reserve one of the 500 Lightyear Ones for 119,000 euros. “Since new technology has a high unit cost, we have to start in an exclusive market,” says Hoefsloot. He’s expecting to ramp up production of the Lightyear One in 2021 so that the next models will have a significantly lower purchase price.
Lightyear has now more than 100 employees, including former staff of Tesla and Ferrari. Since its launch in 2016 (link in Dutch), the company has raised over 20 million euros from reservations, investments and grants. Hoefsloot: “This allowed us to develop a working prototype in just two years. We’ve already sold over a hundred vehicles. With the Lightyear One, we want to show that our technology enabled us to build one of the most sustainable cars on the market that also offers great convenience.”