The world’s first electric car powered by solar energy goes into production

Dutch electric car maker Lightyear has started building the ‘Zero’, a solar car that can run “for months” without needing to be plugged in.

The Lightyear Zero, the world’s first road-ready solar-powered electric car, has entered production in Finland, ahead of European deliveries due to begin next year.

First revealed as a prototype in 2016 – called Lightyear One – the production-ready Lightyear Zero went on sale in Europe in February 2022priced at €150,000 (A$231,000).

Lightyear claims the Zero’s bodywork incorporates five square meters of solar panels, which can add up to 12km of driving range every hour on a sunny day.

The battery can also be charged while on the go, with Lightyear in bold stating that the Zero can “ride for months before needing a plug charge.”

While the Lightyear Zero’s modest 61.2 kWh battery is smaller than that of the standard Tesla Model 3 (estimated 62.3 kWh), the Dutch company claims its solar car can achieve a driving range of up to 725km in the European WLTP test cycle.

By comparison, Tesla claims that the long-range variant of the Model 3, powered by an 82kWh battery, can drive up to 602km on a charge on the WLTP cycle.

The Lightyear Zero is capable of reaching this driving range thanks to its sleek aerodynamic bodywork, which the automaker claims is more efficient than any other production car, and its curb weight of 1,575kg, some 260kg more than projections. initials.

According to Lightyear, the Zero is designed for efficiency, rather than acceleration and outright speed, with its four electric motors (one for each wheel) producing a combined 101kW and 1200Nm.

Production of the Lightyear Zero is limited to 946 examples, all of which will be built by Valmet Automotive in Finland.

The solar car will be sold exclusively in Europe, although Lightyear has previously announced plans to launch a more affordable solar electric car.

Christened Lightyear Two, the €30,000 (A$46,500) solar car is scheduled to go on sale in Europe from 2024 or 2025.

The Lightyear Zero will not be the only solar electric car to be produced in Finland, after German start-up Sono Motors revealed the Sion in July of this year.

The Sono Sion is scheduled to go into production in Finland next year.

Sono plans to launch the Sion in Europe next year, and the Sion solar car will go on sale from €29,900 ($46,350 AU).

Over 1,900 European customers have placed a €2,225 ($3,440 AU) deposit on the Sono Sion, which can reportedly drive up to 305km on a single charge, and the solar panels provide up to 245km of extra range per week.

In September 2022The American technology company Aptera Motors presented the ‘gamma’ prototype, a three-wheeled electric car powered by solar energy.

The American firm claims that the car will go into production next year at its California factory.

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach was born in Canberra/Ngunnawal and currently resides in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found at the weekend behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or cursing in his ZH Fairlane.

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