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

EV startup Lightyear unveiled its to start with photo voltaic-run electric powered car, dubbed Lightyear , at an occasion this 7 days in the Netherlands. The motor vehicle, which Lightyear describes as generation-prepared, has 388 miles of variety, 44 miles of which are derived from photo voltaic power on your own.

The Lightyear is the item of 6 many years of exploration and development from its engineering team. That explained, it does not seem as well dissimilar from the smooth sedan prototype first exposed by the enterprise in 2019. The specs are a small additional down to earth: 388 miles as opposed to the prototype’s 450 miles — but the in general condition and style and design of the motor vehicle appear primarily unchanged.

The inclusion of photo voltaic panels, which is unusual in the automotive house, is what can make this motor vehicle stand out. The Lightyear options five square meters (53.8 sq. toes) of “patented, double curve photo voltaic arrays,” permitting the motor vehicle to demand by itself when it’s driving all around or just sitting in the sun. A person who has a day by day commute of just beneath 35km (21 miles) could conceivably push for months devoid of getting to plug the auto in for recharging.

“In climates this kind of as the Netherlands, it would be two months and, in Spain or Portugal, as substantially as seven months,” Lightyear claims.

The Lightyear functions a 60kWh battery pack with 4 electric powered motors that supply 174 horsepower and 1,269 lb-ft of torque. Lightyear suggests the vehicle will sprint from zero to 62mph in 10 seconds and attain a best speed of 100mph — which is certainly much less than most EVs on the market place — but pace isn’t definitely the issue when you’re driving a photo voltaic-run automobile, suitable?

The interior is predictably small but also refined with a nod towards sustainability. The resources are all 100 p.c vegan, such as microfiber upholstery, plant-dependent leather-based, materials made from recycled bottles, rattan palm wooden trim, and insulated particle foam. The 10.1-inch center touchscreen runs on Android Automotive, which is Google’s native functioning system that’s also identified in a bunch of Volvo and Polestar automobiles. And the Lightyear features all the other superior-tech doodads, like cellphone-as-important capacity, over-the-air computer software updates, and Android Car and Apple CarPlay.

Utilizing solar cells to electric power an electric powered car is no modest feat. There’s a enormous disparity in between the quantity of solar electrical power that the most effective cells can seize and what’s necessary to make a two-ton motor vehicle transfer at velocity. But Lightyear seems additional alongside than most companies pursuing comparable tasks. There’s a spec sheet! And a creation timeline! The firm even has a producing spouse in Finnish deal company Valmet Automotive. These are not insignificant milestones.

That reported, there is nevertheless a extensive way to go, and it is no promise Lightyear will get earlier the end line. The landscape is dotted with the corpses of EV startups that have daring intentions for the upcoming but still finish up succumbing to the harsh realities of automobile production. In small: earning cars and trucks is quite, quite really hard, and Lightyear is not exclusive in its pursuit of a innovative new kind component.

Lightyear is not the only firm staring at the sunlight for inspiration. Aptera — a California startup that crashed in the aftermath of the Good Recession — was not long ago resurrected and is continue to plugging absent. German startup Sono Motors is also working on a solar-driven electric powered automobile. Mercedes-Benz’s Vision EQXX thought features a photo voltaic roof array of 117 cells. And Toyota has promised an optional solar roof for its a short while ago unveiled BZ4X electrical SUV.

The company was started in 2016 by a staff of engineers who had competed collectively in the World Photo voltaic Obstacle, a race held each individual handful of yrs in the Australian outback that is intended to advance the thought of photo voltaic-run cars and trucks.

Lightyear states it will only make 946 units, with each individual marketing for €250,000 (about $263,262 USD). That superior asking selling price could also be a challenging sell. For that income, you could in all probability buy a leading-of-the-line electric car and set up photo voltaic panels on your house and still have a thing remaining. Moreover, the greater electric power output of your panels could mean your EV is technically more photo voltaic-driven general.

Katherine T. Burrows

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