Published on April 21st, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart0
Lightyear Drops Its One Top To Show How It Was Designed & Produced
April 21st, 2018 by Nicolas Zart
An electric car that runs on sunlight is bound to get the press going and commenters seething about whether the possibility is practical or not. But even if the technology is not 100% there yet, is it not reasonable to pay attention to the early startups that could potentially become tomorrow’s established electric vehicle (EV) and autonomous vehicle (AV) leaders? In a rarefied field, Lightyear proposes the One, an EV that runs on sunshine … somewhat.
The Lightyear One Concept
The idea of a car that only uses sunshine is about as close as you can get to an EV Holy Grail. But before getting there, solar photovoltaics have to catch up a bit with astronomical advances in battery technology, but even then, it’s a hard case to make that the solar panels should be on the car instead of on building and carport roofs where they’re less likely to get damaged and more likely to be in the sun all day every day. Nonetheless, Lightyear doesn’t shy away from saying it will deliver a sunshine-powered EV. And, to date, the company has covered some decent ground, which we reported here and there.
Lightyear has invested in learning how to build its laminate solar cells for automotive use, and it continues to do so as it figures out how to layer the solar cells. The solar cells must be protected from wind and weather, and they generally need to be placed on curved surfaces. How to best tackle those challenges?
In order to marry efficiency, performance, and aesthetics, the curved solar panels Lightyear uses can absorb sunlight from multiple directions. That said, we don’t have details on the efficiency of these solar panels or their cost per kWh. But the company says that the car will be able to drive between 400 km and 800 km (250–500 miles) on a full charge, depending on the configuration you choose, and the starting price is €119,000 ($147,000). Clearly, it’s a very different animal from the €20,000 solar-powered Sono Sion.
Flying Electric Planes & Sunshine Cars!
It’s a topsy-turvy world for those who grew up with rotary phones. Cars can fly (sort of), phones are highly portable and powerful computers, and renewable energy is far cheaper than energy from fossil fuels. Also, EVs are here and they have caught the attention of the public. It’s hard not to dream of cars directly powered by the sun, but whether that ends up being practical on a significant scale for normal consumers is something yet to be discovered.
Can the Lightyear team truly make an EV that runs on sunshine and competes on the open market beyond? If it can, you can be sure to read about it here on CleanTechnica. In the meantime, if you want to reserve a Lightyear One for future purchase, the reservation costs €4,000 ($5,000).