One of the biggest obstacles to overcome in people’s minds regarding the electric vehicle is the fear of running out of juice off the beaten track with nowhere to be able to charge your EV. Before that, the primary concern was lack of power and boring looks – probably a misconception based on milk floats (if you’re under 40 google it!) of which the UK had many. A Dutch company has come up with a vehicle that will certainly put the minds of any worriers at rest with a car that can run up to 7 months between charges. While the Lightyear is not entirely new – the Lightyear One was originally scheduled for release in 2021 – it is only now that the intriguing EV is set to get the go-ahead under the moniker Lightyear 0.

So how does it do it? Solar power of course, that abundant source of energy that humans are finally beginning to find ways of providing efficiently. The Lightyear 0 is a solar powered electric vehicle, to be precise, and is the result of 6 years of R & D by Atlas Technologies, who are based just outside Eindhoven in Helmond. The Lightyear features bespoke solar panels on the bonnet and the roof, each curved to fit into to the streamlined design of the car itself – nothing clunky here. These panels go towards charging a 60kWh battery pack which powers 4 electric motors, and this results in a range of just under 388 miles with solar energy making up 44 of those. Let’s face it, anything over 300 miles is going to be suitable for the majority of drives in the UK, although the nerves might get a bit frayed on an early morning drive to Cornwall from London. Yet unless you’re a rep, most journeys are small, and with the Lightyear’s capability of 44 sun-powered miles, in theory this means that you can do daily shorter journeys and commutes without worrying about charging your car – the sun will do that for you while it sits in the office car park.

So, is there a catch? Well yes of course – we live in Europe, not sun-drenched California, so that headline grabbing 7 months between charges gets reduced somewhat when you live in the UK – or the Netherlands for that matter. With that in mind, expect to go about 2 months between charges. That’s still impressive when you bear in mind that you probably need to charge your phone at least once a day and aren’t complaining. Though if you live in a country like Spain, you can expect those 7 months before needing to plug in. Either way, it’s worth remembering that this is essentially free energy.

Those curvy solar panels are optimised to produce up to 11,000km (about 7,000 miles) per annum. In fact, the 53.8 square feet of panels are just one of many patents that the Lightyear 0 has about its chassis and form. One interesting point is that the battery is maybe a bit smaller than you might have expected a new EV to contain in 2022. This means that we’re not looking at earth shattering acceleration or performance, but that’s not what Lightyear is about. The Lightyear 0 is here to allay the anxiety about grinding to halt in the metaphorical desert of your fears with nowhere to ‘refuel’ your EV. It’s a quite snazzy looking automobile that just so happens to be able to give you peace of mind without the worry of charging.

As to those figures, the Lightyear’s top speed is around 100mph and the car pushes out 174hp with 1,269lb ft torque. It will take 10 seconds to get from zero to 60mph. But none of this really matters when you are offering peace of mind regarding charging your EV along with also reducing the actual hassle of the charging process.

Inside, the car is functional and basic, using plant-based leathers, rattan palm wood trim along with fabrics made from recycled bottles. Sustainability is the keyword here. Aside from that, Apple CarPlay and Android Automotive cover your needs.

It’s still surprisingly rare to find a car that features solar panels, which you might think odd considering the car is outside pretty much all of its life but getting enough solar energy to move a heavy vehicle at a capable speed is not so easy – hence the sparseness of solar powered production vehicles. It does seem that the Lightyear project appears to be getting to where it wants to be ahead of many others, and there’s tentative talk of a November 2022 release date. Let’s wait and see how things progress. While all the design and performance cues see the Lightyear as a family daily driver, the current estimated cost of about £225,000 puts it firmly in the supercar bracket. The Lightyear 0 will be limited to 946 units and if you have the cash, you can pre-order right now.


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