Lightyear has unveiled their new One prototype which is being billed as the world’s first “long-range solar car.”
Designed to solve problems related to traditional electric vehicles, such as a lack of charging infrastructure and ‘dirty’ methods of producing electricity, the One has been equipped with solar cells on the hood and roof. The solar panels span an area of 53.8 square feet (5 square meters) and are covered by safety glass which is reportedly strong enough that a “fully-grown adult can walk on them without causing dents.”
While the amount of electricity generated by the panels will vary, Lightyear says the model should be able to create an extra 31-43 miles (50-70 km) of range every day during a summer in the Netherlands. Over the course of a year, the company says the car could generate approximately 700 kWh of electricity.
The company was tight-lipped on powertrain details, but confirmed the One has four in-wheel electric motors and a “relatively small battery.” They claim this setup will provide a range of 450 miles (725 km) according to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure.
Since drivers can’t always count on the sun, the One has also been equipped with traditional charging capabilities. In particular, Lightyear says owners will be able to get up to 249 miles (400 km) of range by charging the vehicle overnight with an ordinary 230V socket.
Part of the reason for the impressive range is the One’s extremely aerodynamic shape. The company is still working to finalize the design, but the current drag coefficient is estimated to be under 0.20. That’s an impressive figure, but it was achieved by equipping the car with aerodynamic wheels, digital side mirrors and semi-blocked off rear wheel openings. The One also boasts streamlined styling and an aerodynamic rear end that mimics the Volkswagen XL1.
While the car is still a prototype, the company plans to launch a production model in 2021. The first 100 vehicles have already been spoken for, but there are still 400 open reservation slots which can be booked for €119,000 ($135,352 / £106,618).