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Lightyear and Elaphe develop the most efficient production powertrain in the world

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Keeping energy loss low and driving distances high is a challenge. Having the best-in-class in-wheel technology plays an integral role in the overall efficiency of our solar electric vehicle (SEV).

So, what is an in-wheel motor? In short, it’s an electric motor integrated into a vehicle’s wheel. It converts electrical into mechanical energy, supplying torque directly to the wheel without gears to significantly improve efficiency. Each of Lightyear One’s four wheels has one. They’re also a lighter alternative to conventional transmissions, reducing the weight and power consumption of our SEV.

On our journey to bring the world’s most efficient and sustainable car to market, we’ve learnt a lot. From fine-tuning aerodynamics to tireless tyre testing, the greatest lessons tend to come from the smallest details — precise, fractional adjustments that transform performance.

Most of the time a revolutionary approach starts with a blank slate. To bring our vehicle to the market, we had to think differently. We relied on the right resources and support from partners and pioneers that share our radical approach to mobility. Lightyear One’s in-wheel motor technology is a great example.

In partnership with Elaphe, we’ve developed the most efficient production powertrain in the world. What makes our approach different is that, together, we designed Lightyear One’s in-wheel motors to perfectly match the vehicle’s efficiency goals. After a lot of testing and a lot of learning, we’ve achieved an efficiency of 97% from the in-wheel motors, losing just a fraction of energy through heat.

Partners on a mission

We’re on a mission to bring clean mobility to everyone, everywhere. It’s important to us that our partners not only stand apart as the best in their field, but that they share our vision for a brighter future. That’s why we work with Elaphe.

Since its early founder research in the 1980s, the company has grown to become one of the world’s leaders in in-wheel powertrains, with more than two decades of experience in designing, testing and producing this type of technology.

They also act with purpose, knowing their work will help to relieve some of the stress put on our planet by radically transforming transportation through a platform of innovative, enabling technologies. Like us, they’re committed to promoting sustainable energy use and minimising fossil fuel dependency.

An efficient future

Since Lightyear was founded, we’ve been laser-focused on pioneering vehicle efficiency. Of course, this includes utilising best-in-class in-wheel motor technology, a crucial element of our wider efficiency ecosystem.

It’s all part of our goal to make clean mobility accessible to all, to move sustainably and to contribute to a healthier planet. We’ve already taken significant steps, creating the most aerodynamic five-seater to date and achieving industry-leading results in suboptimal conditions.

Our co-developed in-wheel motor is another landmark achievement. Together we pushed Elaphe’s proprietary electromagnetic layout to the extremes to achieve world-class efficiencies. Not only has it helped to define Lightyear One’s groundbreaking energy performance, but it’s a clear step towards a better future for mobility. And it’s just the beginning.

Elaphe also prioritises reliability and durability, the key to a great product for the end-user. The technology is undergoing additional rigorous testing, being put through the final steps of Elaphe’s design and validation methodology before starting production at Elaphe’s facilities in Slovenia in support of Lightyear’s ambitious time to market.

Building best in class

This is just one chapter of a greater story. The in-wheel motor is only as good as the other links in the chain, and alongside Lightyear One’s inverter technology, tyre performance and aerodynamic design, we’ve achieved the greatest efficiency and lowest consumption rates of any electric vehicle on the market today.

This all results in a more economical car; one that consumes less energy and drives further, while reducing environmental impact.

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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