This Sun-Powered Sedan Goes For Months Without a Charge

In case you haven’t noticed, electricity prices are going up. Way up. And the timing is perfect for electric companies as we transition over to electrified vehicles. Also, in case you never thought about it, solar power is still free. And is expected to be for the next six billion years. One manufacturing startup wants auto buyers to be able to take advantage of the free power with its Lightyear 0 sedan.

Why is the Lightyear 0 better than an EV?

Lightyear 0
Lightyear 0 solar-powered car | Lightyear

“There is no hiding from it,” Lex Hoefsloot, co-founder of Lightyear, told Designboom. “Access to charging stations will not keep up with the demand for electric cars. To minimize plug-charging and maximize range, the industry’s strategy, so far, has been to add batteries. That increases the carbon footprint of production and, in turn, boosts weight and the need for high-power charging stations.” 

So, to back up his thoughts on the current EV adoption, he introduced earlier this month a solar-powered prototype called Lightyear 0. It has more range with less battery, and both reduced weight and CO2 emissions, than EVs. With its optimized solar roof, the Lightyear 0 can go for weeks and months without needing a charge. 

In some locations, 7 months before needing a charge

Lightyear 0
Lightyear 0 solar-powered car | Lightyear

“In cloudy climates, based on the average commute of around 35 kilometers per day, you can drive for up to two months before you need to think about charging,” it says on the company’s website. “In sunnier countries, that could be up to seven months.” Yes, seven months before it would need a charge in places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, or even LA.

What’s more, Lightyear says that any power outlet can become a charging station for the car. Plugged into a 120-volt socket, it can charge 32 kilometers per hour. “And for Lightyear 0, the range doesn’t start and finish with plugs and sockets,” the company says. “The sun is its source.”

Does Lightyear 0 have a smaller carbon footprint?

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Lightyear 0 solar-powered car thermal collector | Lightyear

The body is made from reclaimed carbon and residual carbon fiber materials. Normally, these would end up in a landfill. Its battery is a high-density, lightweight package, with power also from the thermal integration system. This picks up residual heat. There is a motor in each wheel, and the frame is a mashup of aluminum and carbon fiber to keep things light. 

Lightyear 0
Lightyear 0 solar-powered car | Lightyear

And if you take Hoefsloot at his word, this is just the beginning. “Our first and exclusive series Lightyear 0 will pave the way for an ambitious mission, stretching as far as every corner of the earth. Clean mobility for everyone, everywhere.” 

So maybe when we think of clean mobility in terms of electrification, we should, instead, think about solar power instead.

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