Lightyear 0 is the world’s first solar power generation car

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Solar-EV Lightyear unveiled its first production-ready vehicle yesterday during an online presentation. Its unique name refers to the streamlined approach to electric vehicle design that the company has taken over the past six years of research and development.

The 0 promises to give drivers the ability to travel for months without recharging thanks to an array of solar panels covering the hood, roof and the space usually taken up by a rear window. Lightyear says its cars are built for “grid independence” with solar charging although they can be powered from a household outlet or charging station like any other electric vehicle.

Figures from Lightyear indicate that the 0 will be able to collect a maximum of 43 miles of range from the Sun per day and travel up to 621 miles between charges. Based on a mid-distance summer trip to Amsterdam, drivers should manage up to two months free of charge, and up to seven months in warmer climates like Spain. Maximum range without solar charging in place is 388 miles on the WLTP test cycle.

“There is no hiding the fact that access to charging stations will not be enough to meet the demand for electric cars. To minimize plug-in charging and maximize battery life, the industry strategy so far has been to add batteries. This increases the carbon footprint of production and, in turn, increases weight and the need for high-powered charging stations.” Lex Hoefsloot, co-founder and CEO of Lightyear

solar energy in motion
The 0 has five square meters of solar panels that curve in two axes to match the extremely aerodynamic shape of its body. A drag coefficient of 0.19 makes the 0 the most aerodynamic “production” car with only the more slippery Mercedes Vision EQXX. Those quotes are there because Lightyear hasn’t started building 0s yet; production is expected to begin this fall.

The 0 features all-wheel drive from independently controlled motors located inside each wheel. In total, the motors produce a very reasonable 174 horsepower and a not-so-reasonable 1269 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is limited to 100 mph.

Image showing the location of the solar panel cells on the hood, roof and rear deck of the Lightyear 0.

Use of fender-mounted cameras in place of exterior mirrors to reduce drag from 0-seat screens on pillars inside the cabin. Its body panels are formed from recycled carbon fiber to reduce weight and the interior is following the recycling bandwagon with vegan and eco-friendly materials like plant-based leather, plastics made from recycled bottles and sustainably grown rattan palm wood.

Test drives are expected to begin in June, production will start in the fall and deliveries will begin before the end of the year. We’ve heard that one before, but no matter how you look at it, the Lightyear 0 is an interesting and ingenious way to tackle EV design challenges. As solar panel technology advances, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more and more electric vehicles producing their own fuel by harnessing the sun’s rays.

Check out the full reveal video below.

Images by Lightyear licensed under CC BY 2.0.

James Walker is an automotive journalist at Torque News focusing on Lucid Motors. If he has wheels, he’s interested and he can’t wait to see what kind of cars the EV revolution will bring us. Whether it’s fast, slow, new or old, James wants to take a look and share it in print and video, ideally with some twisty roads involved. You can connect with James at TwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

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