As electric vehicles become more common, there are innovators looking to improve the technology. This includes Lex Hoefsloot, CEO of Lightyear. After six years in development, the company has just released Lightyear 0, the world's first solar vehicle. Without the need for a charging station, this sleek electric vehicle can keep you on the road for seven months thanks to integrated solar panels.
Currently, most electric cars maximize their mileage by having a battery, which means that they're able to spend less time at charging stations and more time driving. However, these batteries not only increase the cars' carbon footprint during production, but they add weight and tie them to high-powered charging stations.
Lightyear 0 skirts this issue by ditching the battery. Instead, the car features curved solar arrays that keep it charged, whether drivers are commuting to work or are simply parked outdoors. The company estimates that, in optimal conditions, the car can power itself with 43 miles (70 km) of range per day. This means that drivers with a daily commute of 22 miles (35 km) could drive for months during the summer without needing to plug in.
In fact, they estimate that drivers in sunny areas could go for seven months without having to charge via a plug. If you live in an overcast environment, you'll still get two months of drive time. But what if you do need to plug in? This is where Lightyear continues to innovate. They claim that there's no need for a high-powered charging station and that the car will still charge at a rate of 20 miles (32 km) of range per hour with a regular plug and socket.
Lightyear's dedication to sustainability doesn't end with its solar panels. The entire design is meticulous in its use of recycled and sustainable materials. This includes an interior with plant-based leather and fabrics made from recycled PET bottles, as well as outer panels made from reclaimed carbon and residual carbon materials.
Now road legal, Lightyear 0 is arriving to consumers in Europe in November 2022. It will be produced in limited quantities with a price tag of $263,126 (€250,000). The goal is to then work toward a model aimed at high production with an accessible price point of $31,575 (€30,000). Lightyear estimates production on that model will start in late 2024 or early 2025.