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Building an Electric Vehicle that has the longest range possible

4 min reading time

Although an electric car looks like a regular car on the outside, it could not be more different, on the inside.

A very short comparison between a regular car and electric one is that a petrol powered car burns fuel to produce energy, while an electric car carries around its energy in a battery.

But the different way in which an electric car stores and recharges on electricity means that it carries comparatively less energy with it. This makes one metric particularly important to an electric car enthusiast, and that is efficiency.

Basically, the more efficient an electric vehicle is, the further it can drive, on the same amount of energy. Greater efficiency, greater range.

So what affects an electric vehicle’s range?

Lightyear One energy consumption for 3 drive cycles


Unlike its fossil fuel counterpart, an electric vehicle transforms nearly all of its energy into motion. Although this makes electric vehicles more efficient overall, it can also lead to some decreases in range during winter.

This happens because only 40% of the fuel that enters an internal combustion engine serves to turn the car’s wheels. The rest produces heat.

Although this can be considered a waste during summer, it can’t be more perfect for wintertime. During the cold months, this heat can be reused to warm the car and its passengers without increasing fuel consumption.

On the other hand, an electric vehicle is too efficient to produce heat ‘accidentally’. Instead, it has to warm the driver and the compartment using energy that could have otherwise been used for driving.

This means that an electric vehicle's range will see a decrease when driving in the cold, because the energy from the battery needs to be used for something other than driving.

And we don’t know about you, but with Lightyear One, we like to keep our passengers as cozy and as warm as possible.

Rolling Resistance

At low speeds, the main source of energy consumption is rolling resistance, which is the friction between the tyres and the road. The heavier the car, the greater the friction. This becomes a problem when electric vehicles have to carry heavy batteries: the bigger the battery, the more battery you need to drive around for significant ranges.

Importance of lightweight materials in electric vehicles

Another element that can increase rolling resistance is temperature: the colder it is, the stiffer the rubber in the tyres becomes, decreasing its performance.

To prevent any problem that might arise from rolling resistance, Lightyear One goes through a lightweight cycle. The main goal of it is to make the car lighter, starting with lighter motors. We accomplish weight reduction all across the board, and, by making one part of the car lighter, we can make the rest lighter, as well, all leading to increased efficiency.

And yes, this is the core of Lightyear’s approach: we reach exceptional ranges through efficiency rather than a big battery.

Wind Resistance

At high speeds, wind resistance is even more important than rolling resistance. The faster a car moves, the more air it has to move through, and the more energy it wastes fighting against the wind. In winter, when the air is colder, it becomes denser, so wind resistance increases, affecting the car’s range even further.

That is why a focus on aerodynamics is essential to maximising an electric vehicle’s range.

The solutions we came up with for Lightyear One are replacing the side mirrors with smaller side cameras, an elongated shape, and a streamlined design. We also moved the motors in the wheels, which cut the requirement for a transmission system, which, at the end, smoothened the underbelly. Because Lightyear One isn’t just a car, but a statement and a showmanship of amazing engineering.

All these aspects reduce the wind resistance, giving Lightyear One a record breaking aerodynamic coefficient and increasing the car’s range at high speeds.

Lightyear One range under different scenarios

Of course, the range of your electric vehicle is dependent on environmental factors and the way you drive, but by maximising efficiency all across the board, we can help you reach exceptional ranges, no matter how cold it is or how fast you drive.

So, instead of explosive acceleration and the biggest battery pack, isn’t it simpler to trim down on the unnecessary, and just opt for the car that will bring you the furthest?

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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