Lightyear are dedicated to progressing the efficiency of solar powered vehicles and the Lightyear One has an already impressive claimed range of 450 miles!
If you go green and buy an electric car, then you will accept that, despite the more efficient and clean driving, you are still not really in control when it comes to how the electricity is generated that you recharge your automobile with.
As of December 2017, the UK was still producing electricity mainly from fossil fuels (approximately 50% – the remainder being evenly split between nuclear and renewable sources plus a miniscule amount of hydro produced electricity). The green chain of control effectively stops here. Though it is actually possible to charge your EV from your own home’s solar panels.
Solar panels themselves are becoming less unsightly, lighter, more efficient and smaller – there is now much excitement about the fully transparent solar cell that could eventually make your double-glazing generate electricity – and maybe the windows on your car too.
In the meantime, we have the Lightyear One, a Dutch solar powered prototype electric car. Lightyear are a start-up company dedicated to progressing the efficiency of the solar powered vehicle, and the Lightyear One has an already impressive (claimed) range of 450 miles.
It’s not purely solar powered though; the Lightyear One will mostly be mains-charged like any other EV, but it does have solar panels which improves the range and should effectively cut down on the amount of tedious plugging in that a standard electric vehicle requires.Indeed, if travelling around 12,000 miles per year, Lightyear estimate that the Lightyear One will only need plugging into the mains about 25 times per year – that’s about half the amount of plug-ins that a regular electric car might be subjected to.
The Lightyear One will be able to accelerate from 0-100km in around 10 seconds and will seat 5 individuals. The overriding image is of a sleek looking modern family car. It’s not small either, with the roof and hood mounted solar panels taking up 5 square metres of solar technology housed under safety glass.
The co-founder of Lightyear, CEO Lex Hoefsloot, says the ethos behind the design philosophy has been that of achieving ‘ultra-efficiency’ and he believes that the One will be efficient enough to receive a 250-mile charge overnight from a regular power point, while sun energy will give the car around 5-6,000 miles extra per year. Ultra-efficiency goes towards building a lightweight and aerodynamic vehicle too – crucial factors when it comes to squeezing out a little bit more mileage.
Solar power can be somewhat limited by your location of course, and a calculator on the company’s website enabled one to workout just how much solar driving you can expect: the calculator doesn’t seem to be there at the moment, but when it was, it was indicating that the annual mileage from driving in London should provide you with around 41% of energy being derived from solar power.
Lightyear as a company arose from the World Solar Challenge, a competition that aims to encourage engineering innovation in the solar powered vehicle market. Lightyear employs around 100 people at present, with ex Tesla, Jaguar – and even Ferrari – workers on board.
The company plan to release Lightyear One in 2020 (locally), and Lightyear has already struck up a deal with rental company Leaseplan, which would provide users with options when it came to getting hold of the car – which might soften the blow a bit towards ownership; it won’t be cheap of course, retailing at around £133,000 upwards. A full roll out to the rest of Europe can be expected from mid 2021.
The version that will go on sale in the Netherlands will be called the Pioneer Edition – and the company has already taken upwards of 100 pre-orders already, while 500 reserve spaces are available for the 2021 release of the 5-seater, requiring a substantial deposit of £106,000 (a far cheaper deposit for the 2022 release is also available). It’s expensive, but what price a luxury family car that will never leave you stranded on a sunny day?
Images: drivingelectric.com, engadget.com
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