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A deep dive into Lightyear 0 — How far can clean solar kilometres take us?

On June 9 we brought Lightyear 0 out of the shadows and into the bright, drenching lights of the global stage. Here, its final design, specs and capabilities were illuminated for the first time.

Lightyear 0 is the world's very first production-ready solar electric car. You can recap its premiere, and the moment we made automotive history, here.

It took six years of tireless innovation, testing, and building to bring Lightyear 0 to the world. It’s revolutionary. Unique. The first of its kind. We imagine you might have some questions about it, so let's dive in a little deeper, shall we?

Inspired by nature’s balance — An ecosystem of efficiency

The first thing to know is that Lightyear 0 is designed like no other. Not just because of its integrated solar cells, but its radically-efficient design ethos.

Look at the world around you. You'll see ecosystems; habitats of flora and fauna evolving and iterating continuously to achieve balance. Sequences of give and take are what keep our earth alive and thriving. Natural harmony.

We built Lightyear 0 in the same vein, facing inevitable tradeoffs to achieve a balanced, symmetrical design that stretches every last joule of energy as far as it can go.

We designed for maximum range and efficiency where it matters most, everyday life. That meant creating a car with a lightweight battery pack, able to maximise energy density per kilogram of weight (60kWh in 350kg). An unconventional approach that delivered in initial testing, when our Lightyear 0 production model drove 560km at highway speeds on a single charge.

Powered by the sun — Five square metres of solar arrays

For Lightyear 0, range doesn’t start and finish with plugs and sockets. The sun is also its source.

Five square metres of patented, double curved solar arrays on the car's roof and hood give Lightyear 0 the potential to charge itself and, in the summer, completely cover the average work commute.

In cloudy climates, like the Netherlands, and based on the average commute of around 35 kilometres per day, you can drive for up to two months before you need to think about charging. In sunnier countries, like Portugal, that could be up to seven months. That equates to more than 1,000 km, achieved between two charging sources: a plug charge, and sunlight.

And with our technology, any power outlet in the world becomes a charging station. Plugged into a regular home socket, Lightyear 0 can still charge 32 kilometres per hour.

Carved by the wind — Record-breaking aerodynamic design

Lightyear 0’s graceful curves, soft lines and organic shapes aren’t just for show. They enable the car to slip through the air like silk, minimising energy lost through air resistance.

Aerodynamics can be a major energy consumer, especially at higher speeds. A good (low) drag coefficient means a more economical car that consumes less energy and, as a result, drives further. Lightyear 0 breaks records with a drag coefficient of < 0.19, making it the most aerodynamic family car on the market.

On the subject of minimising energy loss, the car’s powertrain, with its four independently-controlled in-wheel motors, also sets new industry standards for energy efficiency. In Lightyear 0, the absolute minimum amount of energy is lost through heat. The lowest of any electric car powertrain ever built, in fact.

For people and planet — Built sustainably

Lightyear 0’s interior is vegan, featuring a tapestry of recycled and ethically-sourced materials:

  • High-quality plant-based leather;

  • Fabrics made from recycled PET bottles;

  • Wooden deco elements from sustainably-restructured rattan palm;

  • Ecological, breathable micro-fibre suede.

Sustainability is stitched into every seam.

The car’s outer body panels are also made from reclaimed carbon — residual carbon fibre materials that would otherwise go to waste.

A car for pioneers

Lightyear 0 is built with pioneering technology, for curious minds that go beyond the beaten track. We designed a car that makes the impossibly vast and unimaginably wild, explorable. Without tailpipe emissions or relying on the power grid.

Tackling more than smooth roads and predictable surfaces is perfectly possible. All Wheel Drive (AWD), courtesy of its four independently-controlled in-wheel motors, deliver improved traction control.

A ground clearance of 183mm ensures that our car goes on where other electric vehicles must stop. And its 640L trunk space rivals most mid-size SUVs. That leaves ample room to pack your camping gear and head off-grid for a night under the stars.

On the horizon — Next steps for Lightyear 0

2022 is a big, bright year for mobility. Solar cars are about to shine on roads across Europe.

In August, the very first test drives will be offered. In fall we’ll start up production, with the first cars reaching their drivers in November.

Lightyear 0 might be landing in a city near you, soon. Subscribe to our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss a moment of the adventure.

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About Lightyear

We design for independence and convenience. We create clean solar electric cars that can drive off-grid and into all of life's adventures.

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 848620