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A game-changing electric car heads to production. The Lightyear 0 is an electric car, but it also uses solar power to recharge the batteries. Unlike previous cars with solar roofs, this car sends the solar energy to the batteries to replenish them. Lightyear is a Dutch company that first brought the Lightyear One to our attention, but that car is dead, and the Lightyear 0 takes its place.

The world’s first production-ready solar car is the Lightyear 0

This 2023 Lightyear 0 can recharge the electric batteries using solar power
2023 Lightyear 0 | Lightyear

Much like other electric cars, the new Lightyear 0 shows its aerodynamic features to squeeze every bit of electric juice out of the batteries. Inside EVs tells us the outer body panels are made from reclaimed carbon, mostly carbon fiber that would go to waste if not used in this car. This is only the start of the sustainable nature of this car.

The materials used in the cabin feature plant-based leather, fabrics from recycled bottles, and wood trim from sustainability-restructured rattan palms. This ensures a cabin that offers as many sustainable materials as possible in this impressive solar-powered car.

The Lightyear 0 is a car you leave outside

Sun Shining on the 2023 Lightyear 0
Sun Shining on the 2023 Lightyear 0 | Lightyear

This impressive car doesn’t simply run on solar power. Lightyear designed it to be an electric car that also collects power from the sun to replenish the batteries. According to MotorTrend, if this car is exposed to the sun all day, it can add up to 43.5 miles of driving range to the batteries. This means if your commute is 22 miles or less, you won’t use much of the battery power you started with in the morning.

How is this car capable of collecting so much solar power?

The Lightyear 0 features 54 square feet of solar panels on top o the car, which delivers power to the batteries. Instead of using a gasoline range extender, like many plug-in hybrids, this car uses solar power to give it the extended range desired.

The shape of this electric car contributes to its efficiency and energy savings. The drag coefficient is almost nonexistent at 0.19, making it one of the slickest cars in the world. Optional rear fender skirts increase the aerodynamics, which Lightyear says, without them, the car loses up to 7 miles of driving range per charge.

What’s the driving range of the Lightyear 0 electric car?

Without using solar power, the WLTP test cycle rates this new EV at 388 miles of driving range. This is an impressive number considering this car uses a 60-kWh battery pack. For comparison, the Nissan Leaf, a much smaller car, has a 62-kWh battery pack and 226 miles of driving range using the EPA test cycle.

This solar-powered car isn’t a performance machine

If you’re searching for blazing-fast acceleration and quickness, which the shape of the Lightyear 0 hints at, forget it. This car is slow to accelerate, reaching 60 mph in 10 seconds, even though it has an electric motor at each wheel. The prototype, Lightyear One, offered only 136 horsepower and 885 lb-ft of torque, which is paltry in the EV world.

Although the Nissan Leaf could blow the doors off this car in a drag race, it does give us something new and interesting to enjoy. The solar panels add up to 6.5 miles per hour to the battery, but if that’s not enough, a Level 2 charger can increase the driving range by 124 miles per hour. Using a DC fast charger, you could nearly refill the batteries at 323 miles of added range per hour for this new EV.

New tech doesn’t come cheap; the Lightyear 0 is expensive

How much will you pay for an electric vehicle with a solar-powered range extender? The Lightyear 0 comes with an estimated price of $265,000. Most likely, Lightyear will only produce this car in small numbers and for consumers that order it, but it gives us a step toward using solar power for our electric cars.

Continue on to the next article to learn more about EV charging and what type of charger you should use.


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