Lightyear announces the world's first production-ready solar car

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,229   +158
Staff member
Editor's take: EV startup Lightyear has unveiled what it is calling the world's first production-ready solar car. The Lightyear 0 is targeting a very niche buyer that values efficiency over performance and won't mind paying an arm and a leg for it. Will it sell? We shall see.

The Lightyear 0 is the product of six years of planning. We first learned of Lightyear in 2019 when it announced the Lightyear One, a $169,000 EV with integrated solar panels. That project is now known as Lightyear 0 and has evolved a bit since then (and is also a lot more expensive).

According to the company, the Lightyear 0 will have an estimated range of 388 miles thanks to its 60 kWh battery pack and four independently controlled in-wheel motors. Notably, the vehicle can only generate about 43 miles of range per day from its solar panels under best-case circumstances.

Don't expect typical EV performance here, either. The Lightyear 0 takes a whopping 10 seconds to hit 60 MPH from a stop and maxes out at a top speed of just 100 MPH. For comparison, a Tesla Model S Plaid can reach 60 MPH in under two seconds and has a top speed of 200 MPH. It's also significantly more affordable.

Then again, blistering performance isn't the name of the game here – efficiency is.

The Lightyear 0 tips the scales at just 3,472 pounds and has a record-breaking drag coefficient (Cd) of less than 0.19. Its body is constructed partially of reclaimed carbon fiber, and naturally sourced materials make up much of the interior.

Interested parties can order a Lightyear 0 over on the company's website, but be prepared to shell out a staggering 250,000 euros ($263,000) for the opportunity. The first cars will reach their owners in November, we're told.

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VitalyT

Posts: 6,273   +6,841
For comparison, a Tesla Model S Plaid can reach 60 MPH in under two seconds
And how many miles a parked Tesla can regain a day? That'd be -10 miles, under warm conditions, and more like -50 miles in a cold climate.

So Tesla is losing 10 miles a day (at least) when parked, and this car is gaining 40 miles. Since we are doing comparison...
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,632   +1,632
So Tesla is losing 10 miles a day (at least) when parked, and this car is gaining 40 miles.
This car is gaining 40 miles if it's in direct sunlight in cloudless weather, at a latitude within 30 degrees of the equator, and not parked in a garage, nor driven near trees, tall buildings, overpasses, or other light-obstructing structures. In a place like NYC, you might gain 5 miles of range a day. If that.

Personally, I think leaving a $200K car continually exposed to the elements is about as far from environmentally-friendly as possible. But no one ever accused environmentalists of being intelligent. I'm sure they'll sell a few of these to those interested in virtue-signalling their politics to their friends and neighbors.
 

psycros

Posts: 4,235   +6,035
Hydrogen is the stepping stone to full electric and has been since Bush I was in office. No blood-soaked rare earth metals, no Chinese stranglehold and the only limits on the fuel source are how many cracking plants you can build. Meanwhile, cover the deserts in upgradable solar arrays with glass-cleaning robots to attend them and automated turrets to keep out trespassers and terrorists. It'd be like the good version of the Terminator future.
 

defaultluser

Posts: 434   +348
And how many miles a parked Tesla can regain a day? That'd be -10 miles, under warm conditions, and more like -50 miles in a cold climate.

So Tesla is losing 10 miles a day (at least) when parked, and this car is gaining 40 miles. Since we are doing comparison...

when you have both the weight of heavy panels plus big battery., you really need to slim-down the rest of the car to get anywhere near that 10-second 0-60.

if they cut that battery in-halt,it wouldn't need all that expensive carbon fiber body work to hit the same curb weight as a model 3 remember how overpriced the BMW i3 was, all because it wanted to be lightweight-firs (with a ton of pointless carbon fiobert)t? see how well that sold?
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,527   +2,779
The car makes sense in most ways except price, which is the biggest factor when buying a car for the majority.

However it is an obvious use of solar technology that I have seen dabbled with before on vehicles, but never fully integrated on what they claim is a production vehicle.

I expect to see a few driving around California and Dubai and that's it. However if the tech improves and ends up cheap enough to use on more electric vehicles then in ten years why wouldn't you want free extra miles every day your car sits in the sun? Topping up just ten extra miles a day might be enough for a vast number of users. My gas tank never gets more full after leaving it for a couple of days, no matter how many times I hope. I'm always sadly disappointed.
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 201   +293
Simple, it's a start. At least they are shooting for off the grid electric and I'm all for that. Too bad the whole car is made of a toxic mess of chemicals.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 2,646   +2,858
TechSpot Elite
Solar as the only means of power in a car is a bad idea. I'm wondering if it can be plugged in,
It looks like the EV1. :poop:
It can be plugged in and can charge at 323 miles in an hour.

 

madboyv1

Posts: 1,778   +679
The fact that this car has both a solar charging circuit as well as plug-in honestly is really exciting to me, and I hope manufacturers find more and better ways of integrating solar panels on more surfaces. I mean, 40km is basically the round trip commute to work for me if I am not traveling between multiple locations, so to cover most if not all of that commute without having to plug in (best case, I know), would be pretty awesome. At 250k euros though... I'll just sit here and enjoy watching the (hopeful) maturation of this recharging mode.
 

waclark

Posts: 427   +297
And how many miles a parked Tesla can regain a day? That'd be -10 miles, under warm conditions, and more like -50 miles in a cold climate.

So Tesla is losing 10 miles a day (at least) when parked, and this car is gaining 40 miles. Since we are doing comparison...
Well, the obvious answer is to break out a solar charger and recover some mileage. How much depends on many factors, as does the Lightyear. In the NW, I'm guessing 40 miles a day would be hard 8 months out of the year.
 

Thanthan

Posts: 83   +178
This car is gaining 40 miles if it's in direct sunlight in cloudless weather, at a latitude within 30 degrees of the equator, and not parked in a garage, nor driven near trees, tall buildings, overpasses, or other light-obstructing structures. In a place like NYC, you might gain 5 miles of range a day. If that.

Personally, I think leaving a $200K car continually exposed to the elements is about as far from environmentally-friendly as possible. But no one ever accused environmentalists of being intelligent. I'm sure they'll sell a few of these to those interested in virtue-signalling their politics to their friends and neighbors.

Ofc the intelligent thing would be to bike or take public transport. But unlike other ev manufacturers this company is at the very least trying to make its vehicles environmentally friendly in more than name only. That’s worth a lot more than a 108kWh battery in an EQS providing the same/lower estimated range as this car with a 60kWh one.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,632   +1,632
Ofc the intelligent thing would be to bike or take public transport.
Agreed! And to not waste energy heating water or lighting your home, to catch and cook your own meat, grind your own wheat for sun-baked bread, and to weave your own cloth for homespun clothes. And -- most of all -- to not generate unnecessary carbon emissions through posting to Internet forums. When you're ready to return to that halcyon pre-industrial age, we'll all be right behind you.

But unlike other ev manufacturers this company is at the very least trying to make its vehicles environmentally friendly
How so? The cost to produce most manufactured goods is a good estimate of the resources required to produce it. A vehicle that costs $200K requires several times the resources as does a $40K vehicle. The enormous amounts of energy required to produce this ultra-lightweight vehicle and its associated PV cells far outweighs the miniscule electricity savings it will generate.
 
This car is mostly a proof to the investors that their technology works, as the car is extremely energy efficient and is now allowed on the road. It is expensive as the car is only produced in small volume, and it features many new technologies. They will bring a 2nd car in 2024/2025, they focus on bringing the same technologies and efficiency to a 35k euro car.

The solar panels don't really provide much range for a roadtrip, but for daily commutes, shopping trips etc it is significant.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,416   +2,939
TechSpot Elite
"a $169,000 EV"
That right there makes it more or less irrelevant. Very few people have that kind of money to just blow on a solar-powered vehicle. Very few people have that kind of money, period.

The price makes it pointless. I have an e-bike that I use to commute to work (when it's not raining) and it only cost me $400CAD. This "Lightyear" is completely pointless except maybe to demonstrate that it can be done.
 

Hexic

Posts: 1,237   +1,926
TechSpot Elite
Sad, I don't see this being much of a success. At a price of $170K US (and $263K in Europe), the juice just isn't worth the squeeze. Adding 43 miles/day, AT BEST, for this price just doesn't make sense to me.

Agreed. If this would have stayed in the concept phase, and then utilized as a technology for future production with meaningful improvements on efficiency in the future.. this could have been something consumers would have actually been interested in.
 

azicat

Posts: 117   +124
Okay, so it's not a 'solar car' in the paradigm of the World Solar Challenge's 100% solar... it's a 'regular' electric car (albeit an efficient one) with an integrated solar top-up charging circuit.

It took me a while to figure this out, from the way this article was worded.
 

sreams

Posts: 307   +437
And how many miles a parked Tesla can regain a day? That'd be -10 miles, under warm conditions, and more like -50 miles in a cold climate.

So Tesla is losing 10 miles a day (at least) when parked, and this car is gaining 40 miles. Since we are doing comparison...

Think of all the money you'll save over, say, a Tesla Model 3 by gaining those 40 miles (on the perfect day)!
 

merikafyeah

Posts: 335   +324
You know you're doing something wrong when the Tesla Model S Plaid is the "affordable" option. The Aptera is the better solar vehicle by far. The Aptera can go 1,000 miles on a full charge with a similar 40 miles of solar charging per day. But the final price is closer to 25K, not 250K.

And it goes from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
 

netman

Posts: 798   +350
Sounds very interesting....It is more interesting than Tesla, which Musk wants to make it quicker each year so he can charge $10K more from previous year... Quicker EVs are useless to an average EV buyer, not to mention that they consume more power and reduce range...!
 

flipp3r

Posts: 31   +10
Hydrogen is the stepping stone to full electric and has been since Bush I was in office. No blood-soaked rare earth metals, no Chinese stranglehold and the only limits on the fuel source are how many cracking plants you can build. Meanwhile, cover the deserts in upgradable solar arrays with glass-cleaning robots to attend them and automated turrets to keep out trespassers and terrorists. It'd be like the good version of the Terminator future.
I was excited to see manufacturers like Toyota looking into Hydrogen. Then I found out they're making it by burning fossil fuels!
We're doomed...