Lightyear One “solar car” revealed in production form, promises over 300 miles of range

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It was in 2019 that Dutch EV startup Lightyear first revealed a concept for a sleek sedan with in-wheel motors and solar panels spanning the hood and roof.

On Thursday, the company revealed the production version which has been confirmed as the Lightyear 0. It’s due to enter production in the fall and is slated to reach the first customers in November.

The 0 features a 60-kilowatt-hour battery which the company claims will deliver a range of 388 miles on the WLTP test cycle used outside the U.S. This should still result in more than 300 miles on the stricter cycle used by the EPA.

The key to such high range with such a small battery is efficiency. In addition to having a claimed drag coefficient of less than 0.19 Cd, which would be a record for a production car (the lowest is the Mercedes-Benz EQS at 0.20 Cd), the 0 also features efficient motors, inverters and tires.

Going with in-wheel motors meant the company could save weight and space by eliminating things like transmissions and driveshafts. And those tires are a specially designed skinny set developed by Bridgestone.

Lightyear 0

Lightyear 0

Lightyear 0

The car has a claimed efficiency rate of 10.5 kwh per 62 miles, which is approaching the efficiency of Mercedes’ experimental Vision EQXX concept which used 8.7 kwh per 62 miles during a recent real-world test.

But what about the solar panels? There’s roughly 53 square feet lining the hood and roof, and with sufficient access to sunlight they can charge at a rate of 1.05 kw, or enough to add 6.2 miles of range in an hour.

It means that with a full charge of the battery, a Lightyear 0 as a commuter car could potentially drive for months without needing charging, depending on the length of the commute and access to sunlight.

The first 150 examples, a special Pioneer Edition priced from 150,000 euros (approximately $159,000), are sold out. The next in the series is the Limited Edition which can be ordered now and starts at 250,000 euros ($265,000). Lightyear hasn’t said whether the 0 will be available in the U.S.

Production will be outsourced to Finland’s Valmet Automotive, which built the original Fisker Karma sedan and is also contracted to build the Sono Sion, another EV that can be charged by solar panels.

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