Lightyear reveals prototype solar car One

Lightyear, with some imagination to be called a spin-off from Solar Team Eindhoven, revealed its first private solar car early this morning. For an audience of more than a thousand people in the TheaterHangaar (an airplane hangar converted into a theater) in Katwijk, the ‘new sunrise’ was presented at dawn. According to the company this is the beginning of the future of mobility.

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photo Bart van Overbeeke

Adventurer Alastair Humphreys (National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2012) started the presentation stating how his adventurous lifestyle posed a danger to the planet he loves so much, the earth. "It took me long to realize that and even longer to believe it," the Brit admitted honestly. Now he seeks salvation in less distant journeys. "I'm trying to get pleasure from micro-adventures instead of big trips," he explains. “No more long cycling trips or taking a boat across the ocean. No, I now jump from a bridge into a local river and it fulfills me just as much, knowing that it harms the world much less.”

Before the revelation takes place, there’s a moment for extensive elaboration on the development of the Lightyear One from the moment that Solar Team Eindhoven started. The various Stellas and Solar Teams are discussed.

Carlo van de Weijer, director Smart Mobility at the TU/e and now a Lightyear customer, was also present on the stage and expressed how CEO Lex Hoefsloot always surprised him by proving him wrong. “When he started building this car, I already had twenty points to show him why that was not possible. I believe that there are already fifteen on which I was proved to be wrong. But that’s about to change: I have been a customer for one year now and the customer is always right," Van de Weijer said laughing.

Code word efficiency

The code word at Lightyear is efficiency. "We were able to complete all our challenges with that," Hoefsloot comments. “Our entire team specializes in optimizing the performance of a car. This ensured that we had a strong focus on optimizing efficiency and safety. The design of Lightyear One started with a blank canvas. So we were not guided by car design conventions, just by the laws of nature.”

The company believes that the world is too busy repairing a system that essentially does not work. "The main purpose of this car is to proceed where electric cars fall short. The main reason why people don't buy an electric car is that they can only travel a relatively short distance with a full battery, while there are still too few charging points, according to research,” Hoefsloot explains.

“Lightyear One does not suffer from these disadvantages. The car is ultra-efficient. This allows you to drive an unprecedented distance of 725 kilometers with a relatively small battery. In addition, the battery recharges itself using solar energy, which you can use to charge up to 20,000 kilometers per year. You can also use standard electrical outlets; with a normal 230 V plug you can charge up to 400 kilometers per night. That is especially handy if you want to make a road trip because you do not have to use the electric charging infrastructure.”

Lightyear One

The car is presented on a rotating platform. A young man gets out and pulls a surfboard out of the trunk. The five-seater turns and finally the back door of the hangar opens symbolically: a new sunrise.

The One is something special. With five square meters of solar cells from the front to the back, the car has a dark roof. Furthermore, the length of the car stands out compared to the wheelbase, characterized by Hoefsloot as a space where a trade-off can be found. The shorter the wheelbase, the less weight is needed for the car. Still you want a large roof to accomodate as many solar cells as possible. That seems to be successful. Together with the aerodynamic design, it makes the Lightyear One an elegant appearance.

The range remains important, as with any electric car. Lightyear guarantees, even under the worst conditions (at -10 °C and with the heating on) a range of 400 kilometers. In more favorable circumstances, this could go up to 800 or 900 kilometers, while the One should be able to reach 725 kilometers according to official measurements. According to Lightyear, this makes the One, including pit stops, the fastest electric car to go on a road trip.

 

Price tag

If you want to order a Lightyear One, there are reportedly more than a hundred interested people in a figurative line already. The remaining models of the first series of 500 cars can be reserved via the Lightyear website for € 119,000. Delivery is expected in 2021. The car can also be leased for € 1,879 per month through LeasePlan.

So you’ve got to give a little to feel like the Sun King, but that matches expectations according to CEO Hoefsloot. “New technology always comes at relatively high cost. That is why we are starting with an exclusive market,” he emphasizes, to then also look into the future. “The following models that we will develop will have a much lower purchase price. In addition, we plan to use future models as shared cars, so that the purchase price can be shared among larger groups of users."

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