The Lightyear One is a prototype ‘solar car’ with 450 miles of range

Image: Lightyear

Lightyear has unveiled the first prototype of the Lightyear One, an electric vehicle covered in solar panels that it plans to start delivering to consumers in 2021. The car company was founded in 2016 by ex-members of Solar Team Eindhoven, a team of engineering students who won the solar-powered World Solar Challenge race in 2013, 2015, and 2017.

While the team claims that the car will get 450 miles (725 km) of range from its built-in battery, the real draw is the car’s five square meters of solar panels, which cover its roof and hood and can charge the car’s battery with up to 12 km of range an hour. Lightyear claims these solar cells are 20 percent more efficient than traditional models, and they’re encased in safety glass to protect them from damage.

Twelve kmh isn’t a lot of charge, so it’s probably better to think of the Lightyear One “solar car” as a 450-mile electric car that also happens to have solar panels. If true, that would be a pretty impressive range by itself, outpacing the market-leading 370 miles of range that the Tesla Model S is capable of, even taking into account differences in electric vehicle range standards.

The Lightyear One is covered with a total of five square meters of solar panels.
Image: Lightyear

Thankfully, considering how little power you’re going to get from sunlight, the Lightyear One can also be charged like a more traditional plug-in electric vehicle. It will support up to 60kW of fast charging, giving it 507 km of range per hour of charge. The car has a total of four electric motors, which will allow it to accelerate from 0 to 100 kmh in 10 seconds.

Lightyear was founded by a group of former University of Eindhoven students who won the World Solar Challenge race with their “Stella” solar cars. These vehicles were actually able to generate more power from their solar panels than they consumed on average, meaning you could end a journey with more charge than when you started.

Lightyear is taking preorders for the first 500 Lightyear One cars now for a reservation price of €119,000 (around $135,000). The car itself is expected to have a starting price of €149,000 (around $170,000). Electrek reports that production is expected to start at a slow rate at first, and Lightyear did not provide too many details on how it’s manufacturing the cars. That high asking price could also be a tough sell. For that money, you could probably buy yourself a top-of-the-line electric car, install solar panels on your house, and still come away with change. Plus, the increased power output of your panels could mean your electric car is technically more solar-powered overall.


It’s really pretty if you ask me, but I think the lack of a rear window is a hard sell.
But at the same time, do I need a car? No.
Could I afford this? Also no.

am guessing it does have a rear window because its illegal everywhere for a car to NOT have one.

In the UK all you have to be able to do is see the rear of your vehicle. Which one is more than capable of doing using your side mirrors. This is why transit vans such as this are legal.×791.jpg
an here the link to the article.

If not being able to see out of you rear view window was illegal, towing anything behind you car would illegal, it isn’t.

well i cant say what you say is true at all…got pulled over by the cops in the UK because the back window was full of stuff and they said you need to clear it as you cant see whats coming from behind.

VANS and caravans are exception because its obvious. In vans its safer to not have glass in the back just in case something inside blows it out.

Also your links are pretty invalid as sources because well they are from South Africa…maybe things are a bit different there.

There are definitely exceptions to this. The majority of vans, and all commercial trucks, have no rear windows.

yes exceptions for obvious reasons bu this is not a van or a truck.

And the difference is? Give it large enough side mirrors and I don’t see a problem.

0 to 100 km/h in 10 seconds

Seeing as 100 km/h is about 62 mph, that’s abysmal acceleration for an EV. For comparison, the Honda Accord can 0-60 in 6.5 seconds.

I’d also wonder how the solar cells would hold up on an accident, and if that would affect insurance prices on this thing. The price is also ludicrous, for that much I’d just get a Model S 100D. This is a cool concept that isn’t practical at all in reality.

Accelerating hard is not what it is built for. Yes, fast electric cars are great for selling the idea to the public, but doing drag-races all the time won’t help you if you want to be efficient. Which is also valid for petrol cars by the way.

It would be the same as entering the Red Bull air race in a glider.

I think the more likely explanation is that this is total vaporware sadly. It’s such a comical mismatch. For the person who needs 450 miles of range, but also can’t plug in at home, and also doesn’t mind the car being slower than a gas car under 20k…

If this thing actually delivers 450 miles range it’s going to need 120 kWh battery at minimum which is about 18-24k by itself. Whole car would likely be 70-80k, and it’s hard to sell a car for that much that accelerates far worse than a civic or Mazda 3.

If they do have any actual backers to bring this to market I’m sure they’ll bump up the motor to allow for 6 seconds 0-60 at least.

Wouldn’t it have a much faster 0-60 time listed if it was vaporware? I mean, if anything it sounds impractical at that price point. Also, you can still charge this the traditional way. The solar panels are a bonus, not the only way to charge.

Maybe, but that’s also an awfully…round number. I say good chance it gets like 370 miles EPA (if this is NEDC rating) and ends up in several collectors garages never to be driven again. 150k is just outside what even regular rich people would spend on a car, let alone one that is so compromised compared to say a model S long range.

I take that’s for the Accord with the optional motor? Leaf does about 0-60 in 6.9 seconds for the longest range model for comaprison.

That’s the base 4-cylinder, the new turbo-4 replacing the V6 is mid to low 5’s.

Thank you, zduboss. I noticed similar……I suspect that a Nissan Versa (one of the slowest cars around) can accelerate from 0 to 100 kM/h in less than 10 seconds. I am pretty sure that my Honda Fit will leave that in the dust. But I wanted to also criticize the nomenclature used in the article. If I understand the intent, it would be best to say that the panels can add 12 km of range per hour of charging, or (not as good but still an improvement) to say 12 km/h. Without the "/" it does not make much sense. This reminds me of watt-hours which are a unit of energy.

I would also say let’s be cautious on rendered products. The e-tron was supposed to go >300 miles on a 95 kWh pack. It ended up going 205. And that’s coming from Audi, not a random startup.

I’ll believe it when I see it. Solar cars seem kind of crazy to most people but the real application is in areas where you can’t park your car in a dedicated spot, and your work parking is outside. If that’s the case this car is touting 6-7 miles an hour of sunlight, or about 48-56 miles.

Now even if the added range is actually only 25 a day, that means in the real world you’re getting 9,125 miles a year from sunlight. That means for many people you might only need 300 miles a month or so (12.5k a year) which is far more workable for public charging than if you need 250 miles a week or so.

The other benefit could be much smaller battery packs for these EVs as a result.

The final point is while people often say things moving shouldn’t have solar panels (and historically were right) that doesn’t account for the recent developments that have caused the cost of the hardware itself to dip under a dollar a watt. These days permitting/soft costs/installation often end up being the vast majority of costs.

If you can streamline those costs (and not care about permitting) you can potentially reduce the costs of solar ~50-80% compared to rooftop solar, making things like this somewhat viable.

Yeah I could see this being worse than they said, but still just as expensive. Truth is solar powered cars are a good idea, but if this thing is any indication, they may be like a decade away from being both practical and affordable.

Sion is another solar car that is at least slightly more grounded. Honestly solar panels are already dirt cheap. For allowing people with only curb parking to use EVs it makes a lot of sense. Even if it is a simpler, less crazy system. 15 miles a day charging might be enough for some people to go a 7-10 days without charging a 100 mile BEV for a city car, and it’s of course 100% renewable.

Perovskites may be useful here. Since such a large % of solar panel cost is labor installation permitting etc. integrating it into EVs assembly line style could be cheaper than we think.

Well the verge obvious didn’t get a invite, everyone seem to through,but you can watch a video of their first prototype car, this isn’t just base on renders.

An before you say it slow, they are only using 10% of its power.

Sure, but who would you trust to deliver their claims? Audi? A manufacturer of over 2 million automobiles a year, founded over 100 years ago? Or this company? How many millions of cars have they shipped? Point is even big deals in the auto world miss their target by a lot. They’re touting 7 miles per kWh which I find hard to believe considering how aerodynamic some EVs are that get 4.0-4.1 miles per kWh. 5? Maybe. 7? Yeah that’s probably like 25 mph constant speed downhill.

Still, they’re charging like 150k so realistically budget shouldn’t be a problem. Going to be a museum piece, not used for driving realistically.

No one will buy this. Outrageously expensive, offers no real benefits, looks like an uglier, longer Clarity.

They already got 100 reservations before they even show of the model.

Getting a potential 92 km range just from letting it sit in the car park whilst you are at work offer no benefit at all?

Not worth the increased price point over a Tesla in my book. Tesla will have 400+ Model S next year. In my opinion range is only one part of the equation. How will its technology hold up to Tesla or Rivian or anyone else.

Similar to Fisker Karma, I don’t think putting solar panels on small vehicles makes practical/economic sense.

Just plug the car in if you’re looking for more range in a parking lot.

Car is 150k. Benefits are there, as I noted, but at 150k these cars won’t see the outside of a museum. They’re for collectors, no one else. How many of those crazy XL1s do you see?

If the price were say 70k some regular (weird but not literally billionaire car collectors) would maybe buy it.

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