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Lightyear platform: the foundation of the future of mobility

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The Lightyear platform, which forms the basis for Lightyear One, already has a couple of advantages over its counterparts, and we believe it will play a crucial role in our strategy moving forward. It is the first product of our distinctive design approach: to be as frugal as possible with energy. This relates to the two biggest problems we believe electric cars are facing today; limited range and dependency on charging infrastructure.

Creating unsurpassed range for an EV

Limited range can be resolved in several ways: by improving capacity or volume of batteries, or taking a more energy efficient approach. We believe in the latter, given that new battery breakthroughs will probably take years to complete while adding more batteries will simply add more bulk and cost to a car. In addition, this is not great for handling, leads to decreasing overall efficiency and it has a negative environmental impact.

Lightyear offers and continues to build on several innovations that make the Lightyear platform far more energy efficient than competing offerings, of which the drivetrain is perhaps the most significant. The solution we developed comprises of four small, independently controlled motors mounted inside each wheel. Developed in-house, the motors employ only a single moving part and offer a high power-to-weight ratio; Most importantly though, they minimize power loss since power is directly transferred to the road, without the need for any transmission or axle. There are other benefits too, as the platform offers ‘real’ four-wheel drive capabilities (great for safety), and is uniquely serviceable. Bottom line is that a Lightyear can travel farther (in some cases almost three times as far) on a single KWH of power than any commercially available electric vehicle today.

Reducing grid dependency

The emergence of a fast charging grid is great news for owners of any electric vehicle, as it decimates charging times when available. However, there is still a long way to go, since coverage is limited to small parts of Europe and the US, with some emergence in Asia. Therefore it is currently unrealistic to take any EV (except the Lightyear One), off the beaten track. Moreover, if the rise of the popularity of EVs continues, demand for fast charging in areas where it is available could soon outstrip supply.

Our second design principle for the Lightyear Platform is, therefore, to avoid dependency on the grid, let alone fast chargers as much as possible: we want to unclutter and offer maximum freedom to our drivers and passengers.

Clearly, our setup with solar cells, for the first time fitted flush into the body and shape of a passenger vehicle, is our signature feature, in theory eliminating any need for charging infrastructure. However, during peak periods including holidays, for people that frequently drive long distances and of course given seasonal and day to day weather variation, a Lightyear will need a recharge from time to time.

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Fortunately, our investment in overall energy efficiency pays dividends here too, as in comparison to other popular EVs Lightyear offers a much higher range per kWh, implying that for the same amount of energy charges from the grid, people will receive many more kilometres of range. For instance, people will get about 400km per night from domestic power outlets. But this also means that you will be done faster when using a fast-charger. This dramatically increases charging prospects across the globe: you can recharge Lightyear, faster than any other car, at any place where they offer electricity.

Business models beyond Lightyear one: sharing economy

The lower cost of energy and better efficiency, reduced need for maintenance (given fewer moving parts) and much longer lifecycle make Lightyear’s cars 2 to 4 times more affordable to drive per kilometre than other electric cars (without even mentioning combustion cars). Factoring in Lightyear’s innovations: its unparalleled platform efficiency and its capability to recover range using sunlight ensures that the platform a very well positioned in the cost per km competition, and an attractive, greenfield candidate for ‘sharing economy’ applications.

A key requirement is, of course, switching to high volume mass production. Our future vehicles will indeed be mass produced together with partners and since none of the technologies we use are inherently expensive, we expect to reduce cost quickly as volumes scale. We will be well positioned for (partnerships in) the sharing economy, given our unique range, very convenient self-charging capabilities and extreme efficiency.

Sharing technology to benefit the industry: Commercial potential for much wider application Lightyear has developed and will continue to develop pioneering technologies (based on its own IP) that it will introduce in its vehicle lineup. However, many of these technologies have many applications beyond passenger vehicles. We imagine a future where countless other manufacturers and operators of transport modalities can profit from Lightyear’s current and forthcoming innovations, through our ‘Powered by Lightyear’ program. The future of mobility and transport is multimodal!

We are a network organisation. Please reach out to us if your company is interested in a partnership to set up fleets of Lightyear vehicles or when interested in using Lightyear Technology. Although we have to keep focus, we are interested to explore opportunities.

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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