After an initial review of the first drivable prototype earlier this year, the team at Lightyear has taken to the internet to host a public Q&A about its solar powered Lightyear One electric vehicle. To amp up the energy of the event, Lightyear brought Fully Charged host Robert Llewelyn to host the event with Lightyear’s CEO Lex Hoefsloot.
Fundamentally, the Lightyear One was designed from the ground up as an extremely efficient vehicle. Maximizing the amount of range that can be driven per kilowatt-hour provides a beneficial loop in the design phase of the car. The more efficient the car is, the fewer batteries it needs to go the same distance, which translates to a lighter vehicle that can, in turn, go even further.
The focus on efficiency was one of the foundational tenets at Lightyear as the team sprouted from several years of competing in solar powered electric vehicle challenges in Australia. It was the relentless pursuit of efficiency that led to the uber aerodynamic exterior and the long, drawn out tail of the car. The rear wheel covers also contribute to this efficiency, directly supporting the range of the vehicle.
The team at Lightyear opted for in-wheel motors to power the Lightyear One, but is not currently disclosing whether they are being built in-house or supplied by an external partner. They did confirm that many of the larger parts for the vehicle are indeed being built in-house at Lightyear.
Up top and on the bonnet of the vehicle, an array of solar cells provide power to recharge the vehicle, adding range with every extra ray of sunlight that is collected. They have put together a nice little online calculator that lets you enter a location to determine just how much extra range to expect from the integrated solar cells. Here in Oxnard, California where I live, they estimate that the built-in solar system will produce enough extra power for me to drive 218 days using the energy from the solar alone. Looking out across the year, they estimate a maximum production from the system of 5.86 kWh in a single day and a minimum of 2.26 kWh generated per day in the winter.
Applying that power to a Tesla Model 3 only translates to ~24 miles of range per day, but that’s where the beauty of the Lightyear One’s efficiency comes into play. Squeezing out more miles out of every kilowatt-hour of energy translates to more miles pulled into the vehicle from the sun each hour.
Price & Availability
The rubber meets the road with the Lightyear One when we start talking about cost and availability. The vehicle sets a new high bar when it comes to efficiency and the amount of range that it can pull from the sun, thanks to its efficiency-first design and cutting edge solar cells. Ultimately, it must meld that blue sky vision into a car that the market can support at a price point that makes an impact beyond a concept.
The Lightyear One will come to market at a price point of €149,000 (US$164,500), firmly setting the car out as a car for the wealthy. Lightyear has two variants that can be reserved today, with the standard Lightyear One requiring a refundable €4,000 deposit.
For the more adventurous (or more wealthy), the Pioneer Edition is being offered for one of the first 100 vehicles to come out of the factory and the standard Lightyear One. Locking in a Pioneer Edition is the same purchase price of €149,000, but requires a refundable deposit of €119,000 to be sent within 30 days of placing the reservation. The higher up front deposit lets enthusiasts select their place in line for production and earns invites to special Lightyear events.
Leases are being offered through a partner, LeasePlan, but the details of the leases are not being shared. To request a quote, you’ll have to engage Lightyear’s sales team directly.
Both variants are for the European Union only, with deliveries starting in early 2021. Pioneer Edition reservation holders get priority delivery timing with standard reservation holders following thereafter.
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