Electric vehicles are gaining traction around the world as efforts are made to reduce the huge carbon footprint of transport. However, electric vehicles are only as green as the energy sources used to power them. A coal-fired electric vehicle is not necessarily a big help for the environment.
This is why the development of solar-powered vehicles is a welcome trend. These vehicles rely on solar power and also allow their owners to charge their cars on sunny days 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 solar electric vehicle ready for mass production. According to Lightyear co-founder and CEO Lex Hoefsfoot, the main question behind starting the vehicle was, “How can we preserve what we have and continue to live the life we love?”
Hoefsloot stresses the importance of sustainable transport, saying everyone will have to drive green cars by 2040.
However, there is still a long way to go
Several issues related to the transition from traditional vehicles to electric vehicles remain. In particular, he points to the issue of charging stations. Given the growing demand for electric vehicles, charging stations and infrastructure need to be installed at a rapid pace.
“Lightyear 0 offers more range with less battery, which reduces weight and CO2 emissions per vehicle,” says Hoefsloot. Basically, the Lightyear 0 combats the economic shortcomings of electric vehicles by providing the ability to travel further on less battery power.
The vehicle’s battery can be charged from any outlet in the world, which is Lightyear’s way of making it more usable and less reliant on charging stations. Drivers can travel approximately 20 miles in just one hour of charging from the same outlet your night light is plugged into. Fast charging will prepare vehicles to travel 520 km (323 miles) in the same period.
The vehicle is equipped with solar panels on the roof, hood and trunk, allowing people to travel distances even beyond the life of their car’s battery. The Lightyear 0 can travel over 621 miles (1000+ km) on a single charge. A battery charge can last 388 miles (625 km) and solar panels can add an additional approximately 44 miles (70 km) per day. Each hour of sunshine can add up to 6 miles of battery charge.
Lightyear also claims that most people could drive for months without needing to recharge. On cloudy days and with a journey of around 22 miles (35 km), drivers can go two months without needing to recharge their vehicle. In constantly sunny weather, this number increases even more.
A durable vehicle inside and out
The Lightyear 0 is also durable indoors, say its makers. The interior of the vehicle is completely ecological and even includes vegetable leather.
However, there is a major drawback to the Lightyear 0: its high price. The vehicle starts at $262,000, making it a less than affordable option for most people.
Nonetheless, Lightyear’s founders hope their pioneering vehicle will pave the way for “an ambitious mission” that will ultimately bring clean mobility to everyone, everywhere. They hope to offset the CO2 emissions created by traditional vehicles and typical electric vehicle batteries.
The first test cars were on European roads throughout June and production will begin this fall, with Lightyear promising the vehicle will be available for first deliveries in November.
Time will tell how the consumer market reacts to this solar-powered vehicle and others like it hitting the roads. It could revolutionize the industry.
By April Miller. Articles in English