Dutch Company Unveils the World’s First Long-Range Solar Car

The Lightyear One prototype debuted at sunrise.

Jul 13, 2019

Solar cars are not a new concept; they've actually been around for a while. The reason that they have not taken off has been due to their limited driving range. But a new day has dawned for solar cars.

The Lightyear One, a prototype of a new type of solar car, was unveiled at the break of dawn on June 25, 2019, to a very select group of investors, partners, customers, and the press at the Theater Hangaar in Katwijk in the Netherlands. Why was it presented at sunrise? The answer is that this new prototype will get the most out of every ray of sunlight.

“This moment represents a new era of driving,” said Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear, in a company press release. “Two years of dreaming, thinking and working hard have led to this milestone, which is a giant leap towards achieving our mission of making clean mobility available to everyone.”

Lightyear was founded in 2016 by alumni from Solar Team Eindhoven, a group of engineering students whose prototype car won the Bridgestone Solar Challenge in the Cruiser Calls for three consecutive years - so the team has a lot of experience working with solar vehicles. The wins came with enough accolades, grants, and investors that they were able to finish their prototype in a record two-years' time.

The prototype was engineered from a radically different perspective. “We all have a performance background and with that we focus relentlessly on to optimize efficiency and safety,” Hoefsloot said.

The Lightyear One, a 4-passenger luxury car, is equipped with a battery that is two-thirds of the size of the Tesla S, but will get a whopping 725 kilometers (450 miles) of range.

Hoefsloot said, “The main goal of the car is to fill in where electric cars fall short. Research has shown that range and the lack of charging options are still the top concerns that people have when considering electric cars.”

The car's battery can charge itself directly from the sun because its energy consumption is so low. This battery is so efficient that it can charge electrically much quicker too. The company said that you could charge up to 400 km per night from an ordinary 230V socket.

The car has other great benefits that include being constructed from high tech materials that make it very lightweight while maintaining stringent passenger safety, four independently driven wheels, plus the glass on the solar cells on the roof and hood are so strong that it can be walked on without causing any dents.

The company has already sold 100 units of the prototype that will be manufactured in its Helmond facility and delivered in 2021. Cars can be ordered from the Lightyear website for a reservation fee of €119,000.

The company said that the next models that will be developed would have a lot less sticker shock. Future models will also include autonomous and shared fleet cars.

During the presentation of the prototype at the unveiling, Hoefsloot said that “climate change is one of the biggest problems that we humans have faced in our history. It is such a frightening development that it is almost paralyzing. We decided to do the opposite; as engineers, we believed we could do something. Lightyear One represents a huge opportunity to change mobility for the better.”

When the price comes down and combined with the energy savings compared to a combustion car, solar cars could become the new standard and fossil fueled cars only a memory.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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