Several years ago, a Dutch electric vehicle startup announced the Lightyear One, a solar-powered EV. Today, at an online premiere event, the company confirmed it’ll call its first vehicle the Lightyear 0, and it’ll supposedly start production this fall.
The Lightyear team has been busy durability testing its vehicle over the last several years, including detailing a driving test where it went over 440-miles on a single charge. Since the beginning, it has promised a solar EV that can travel 450 miles per charge. That’s a big target.
It’s being described as an evolution of the original model and received upgrades to the design, performance, panels, and more. Don’t expect Tesla-like performance, as this isn’t your typical EV. The company says this is the world’s first production-ready solar car. For what it’s worth, we’ve seen other manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, test solar-powered vehicles, but none of those are production-ready.
As you can see above, the Lightyear 0 looks good, if not a bit unique. However, we’re more interested in specs, driving estimates, and what buyers can expect for the hefty price tag.
According to Lightyear, range for the 0 is around 388 miles thanks to the built-in 60 kWh battery, which is pretty good on its own. Then, the five square meters of double-curved solar panels on the top of the vehicle add an additional 44 miles (70 kilometers) of range per day, as long as you have ideal conditions for the solar panels.
There’s a built-in battery like many other EVs you can charge, plus the solar panels can charge it, or the vehicle can run from solar power. The solar array can potentially offer up to 44-miles of driving distance per day. Then, assuming you have plenty of Sun every day of the year (which you won’t), the vehicle can theoretically drive an additional 6,835 miles per year using solar power.
If the weather isn’t ideal or you’re dealing with clouds, the Dutch startup claims that Lightyear’s solar panels can still deliver enough electricity to power the car up to 22 miles per day. In fact, Lightyear says the average commute is only around 25 miles a day in the Netherlands, and if you don’t exceed that, you could drive the car for two months without needing to recharge it. And in sunnier climates, it could go upwards of seven months without a recharge.
When you need to charge the Lightyear 0, it offers DC fast-charging, not to mention typical public and at-home charging speeds of other EVs.
The Lightyear 0 is apparently ready for the masses, as the company aims to start production this fall. Furthermore, Lightyear says its first solar-powered EV will ship to buyers in November. I’ll believe it when I see it, as even established manufacturers have a hard time hitting those types of deadlines.
Ready for some bad news? The company plans to produce just under 1,000 vehicles, which will cost you a cool $265,000. You can reserve and configure your own at the Lightyear website. On the bright side, Lightyear says they’ll continue to improve this technology and eventually offer a more affordable model by 2025 for under $32,000.