EV startup Lightyear debuted its first solar-powered vehicle this week, a sleek sedan called the Lightyear 0. The company gave us a peek at a production prototype of Lightyear 0 in 2019, and at first glance, not much has changed. The car is essentially an unconventional hybrid equipped with both a conventional 60-kilowatt-hour EV battery pack and solar panels on its roof, hood and hatch. The solar panels on the Lightyear 0 will charge automatically whenever the car is exposed to the sun — it doesn’t matter if it’s parked or driving.
The Lightyear 0 isn’t as much solar-powered as solar-assisted. In order to drive for long distances, the vehicle has to tap into its battery reserve. The car’s solar panels can provide 44 miles of range per day in a sunny climate, whereas its EV range is 388 miles. But for drivers with exceptionally short commutes or those who need their vehicle infrequently, the Lightyear 0 could allow them to no longer spend money on gas or charging. The company claims that those with a daily commute of 22 miles can drive the Lightyear 0 for two straight months in the Netherlands summer without needing to charge. Drivers in sunnier climates can go for longer. Lightyear claims that the sun can provide the Lightyear 0 with anywhere between 3,700 to 6,800 miles of range annually.
It’s important to note that Lightyear 0 owners will need to drive for a significantly long time in order to justify the vehicle’s purchase as a cost-saving measure. The Lightyear 0 will cost €250,000 (which amounts to roughly $263,262 USD), and the company only plans on making 946 units. But a more reasonably-priced vehicle is on the way. Lightyear recently also unveiled a prototype of a $33,000 solar-powered car, which is scheduled to go into production by 2025.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.