Electric vehicles are gaining ground worldwide as efforts are underway to reduce the vast carbon footprint of transportation. However, EVs are only as green as are the energy sources used to power them. An EV powered by coal-fired power is not necessarily a great boon to the environment.
That is why the development of solar-powered vehicles is a welcome trend. These vehicles rely on solar energy and they also allow their owners to charge their cars on sunny days while on the go with less reliance on charging stations along the way.
In a radical new development, Lightyear, a Dutch solar electric vehicle (SEV) startup, has just unveiled the production-ready design of its new car, marking the world’s first-ever solar-powered EV ready for mass production. According to Lightyear co-founder and CEO Lex Hoefsfoot, the driving question behind the vehicle’s inception was, “How do we preserve what we have and still live the life we love?”
Hoefsloot emphasizes the importance of sustainable transportation, saying that everyone will need to drive eco-friendly cars by 2040.
However, he added, there remain various problems associated with transitioning from traditional vehicles to electric ones. He specifically notes the issue of charging stations. Considering the growing demand for electric vehicles, charging stations and infrastructure need to be installed at a rapid rate.
“Lightyear 0 delivers more range with less battery, reducing weight and CO2 emissions per vehicle,” Hoefsloot stresses. Basically, the Lightyear 0 combats the economic shortcomings of electric vehicles by delivering the ability to travel farther with less battery.
The vehicle’s battery can be charged using any power outlet in the world, which is one way Lightyear hopes to make it more usable and less reliant on charging stations. Drivers can attain around 20 miles (32 km) of travel with just an hour of charging in the same outlet that their bedside lamp is plugged into. Fast charging will prepare vehicles for 323 miles (520 km) of travel during the same time frame.
The vehicle is outfitted with solar panels on its roof, hood and trunk, enabling people to drive distances even beyond their car’s battery life. The Lightyear 0 can drive over 621 miles (1,000+ km) on a single charge. A battery charge can last 388 miles (625 km), and the solar panels can add around 44 extra miles (70 km) daily. Each hour of sunlight can add up to 6 miles of charge to the battery.
Lightyear also claims most people could drive for months without needing to recharge. In cloudy climates and with a commute of about 22 miles (35 km), drivers could go two months without needing to recharge their vehicles. In consistently sunny climates, this number rises even higher.
The Lightyear 0 is sustainable on the inside, too, its makers say. The vehicle’s interior is completely eco-friendly and even includes plant-based leather.
There is one major drawback to the Lightyear 0, however: its hefty price tag. The vehicle starts at $262,000, making it a less-than-affordable option for most people.
Nonetheless, the founders at Lightyear hopetheir pioneering vehicle will pave the way for “an ambitious mission” that will ultimately provide everyone everywhere with clean mobility. They hope to counteract the CO2 emissions created by traditional vehicles and the batteries in typical EVs.
The first test cars have been on European roads throughout June and production will begin this fall, with Lightyear vowing the vehicle will be available for its first deliveries in November.
Time will tell how the consumer market responds to this solar-powered vehicle and others like it that will be taking to the roads. It might just revolutionize the industry.
Originally published by Sustainability Times