Lightyear says its $263,000 solar-powered automotive will go into manufacturing later this yr

Lightyear says its $263,000 solar-powered car will go into production later this year

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EV startup Lightyear revealed its first solar-powered electrical automobile, dubbed Lightyear 0, at an occasion this week within the Netherlands. The automobile, which Lightyear describes as production-ready, has 388 miles of vary, 44 miles of that are derived from solar energy alone.

The Lightyear 0 is the product of six years of analysis and improvement from its engineering workforce. That mentioned, it doesn’t look too dissimilar from the modern sedan prototype first revealed by the corporate in 2019. The specs are somewhat extra right down to earth: 388 miles versus the prototype’s 450 miles — however the total form and design of the automobile seem principally unchanged.

The inclusion of photo voltaic panels, which is uncommon within the automotive area, is what makes this automobile stand out. The Lightyear 0 options 5 sq. meters (53.8 sq. ft) of “patented, double curve photo voltaic arrays,” permitting the automobile to cost itself when it’s driving round or simply sitting within the solar. Somebody who has a every day commute of slightly below 35km (21 miles) might conceivably drive for months with out having to plug the automobile in for recharging.

“In climates such because the Netherlands, it might be two months and, in Spain or Portugal, as a lot as seven months,” Lightyear claims.

The Lightyear 0 contains a 60kWh battery pack with 4 electrical motors that offer 174 horsepower and 1,269 lb-ft of torque. Lightyear says the automobile will dash from zero to 62mph in 10 seconds and attain a high velocity of 100mph — which is actually lower than most EVs in the marketplace — however velocity isn’t actually the purpose while you’re driving a solar-powered automotive, proper?

The inside is predictably minimal but in addition refined with a nod towards sustainability. The supplies are all 100% vegan, together with microfiber upholstery, plant-based leather-based, materials made out of recycled bottles, rattan palm wooden trim, and insulated particle foam. The ten.1-inch heart touchscreen runs on Android Automotive, which is Google’s native working system that’s additionally present in a bunch of Volvo and Polestar autos. And the Lightyear 0 options all the opposite high-tech doodads, like phone-as-key functionality, over-the-air software program updates, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Utilizing photo voltaic cells to energy an electrical automobile is not any small feat. There’s an enormous disparity between the quantity of photo voltaic power that the most effective cells can seize and what’s wanted to make a two-ton automobile transfer at velocity. However Lightyear appears additional alongside than most corporations pursuing related tasks. There’s a spec sheet! And a manufacturing timeline! The corporate even has a manufacturing accomplice in Finnish contract producer Valmet Automotive. These will not be insignificant milestones.

That mentioned, there’s nonetheless an extended method to go, and it’s no assure Lightyear will get previous the end line. The panorama is dotted with the corpses of EV startups which have daring intentions for the longer term however nonetheless find yourself succumbing to the cruel realities of vehicle manufacturing. Briefly: making automobiles may be very, very exhausting, and Lightyear shouldn’t be particular in its pursuit of a revolutionary new kind issue.

Lightyear isn’t the one firm staring on the solar for inspiration. Aptera — a California startup that crashed within the aftermath of the Nice Recession — was not too long ago resurrected and continues to be plugging away. German startup Sono Motors can be engaged on a solar-powered electrical automotive. Mercedes-Benz’s Imaginative and prescient EQXX idea features a photo voltaic roof array of 117 cells. And Toyota has promised an non-obligatory photo voltaic roof for its not too long ago launched BZ4X electrical SUV.

The corporate was based in 2016 by a workforce of engineers who had competed collectively within the World Photo voltaic Problem, a race held each few years within the Australian outback that’s meant to advance the thought of solar-powered automobiles.

Lightyear says it’ll solely make 946 items, with every promoting for €250,000 (about $263,262 USD). That top asking value may be a tricky promote. For that cash, you possibly can most likely purchase a top-of-the-line electrical automotive and set up photo voltaic panels on your home and nonetheless have one thing remaining. Plus, the elevated energy output of your panels might imply your EV is technically extra solar-powered total.

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