Solar-powered electric car, the Lightyear One, can travel 700km on just one charge
The Lightyear One is a prototype electric car, in the form of a large hatchback, with the bonnet, roof, and boot all clad with 5m2 (54ft2) of solar panels, with a Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) range of just over 700 km (435 miles).
By incorporating solar panels, the designers have found they can increase the autonomy of electric cars, a solution that has been little explored in the automotive world – the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid is one of the few production cars that uses it – but one that can help achieve remarkable results, using relatively small batteries, which the Lightyear One has proved, by exceeding 700km (435 miles) on a single charge.
In a specific circuit test, the model travelled 710km (441 miles) at an average speed of 85 km/h (53mph), a result which is relevant for two reasons: in the first place, because of the speed, for example much higher than that of the Hyundai Kona in the test in which it exceeded 1,000km (621 miles), where it drove at a speed of between 29 and 31 km/h (18 mph).
Secondly, because the solar-powered Lightyear One uses a 60 kWh battery, an average size battery with which current electric cars achieve distances of less than 500km (310 miles) on one charge.
This good result is due, in turn, to two factors. On the one hand, the presence of solar panels, which provide energy to extend the autonomy of the vehicle by more than 70km (43 miles) on a sunny day, according to Lightyear’s calculations, and in the recent test, they reportedly added an extra 40km (24 miles).
It is a vehicle with careful aerodynamics, having a low front end, a drop from the roof that increases the air flow, and faired rear wheels that contribute to the same purpose, achieving a Cx coefficient of 0.20, so all these factors combine to achieve very good energy efficiency, with a consumption of only 8.5 kWh per 100km (62 miles) when driving at 85km/m (53 mph).
Although the measurements are promising, the Lightyear One is still a prototype, and it is likely the production model – with a more elaborate interior and more complete equipment – will have a higher weight and worse efficiency results.
The first models will be available in the first half of 2022, as a special series of 946 units, and in 2024 they will begin to be produced in series, with a price that will start at €150,000, but it will not be alone in the fight to extend the autonomy, thanks to technology alone, the Aptera 3 promises a range of 1,600km (994 miles) per charge, as reported by motor.elpais.com.
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