The winning team of the World Solar Challenge – Cruiser Class for four and five seat vehicles in 2013, 2015 and 2017 comes from Eindhoven University of Technology and their Stella solar cars dominate the competition in this category.
When the winning team, according to LinkedIn currently 176 people strong, picks up a great name, “Lightyear”, and takes the next step with a startup business approach the world is listening. Building the first prototype of a solar powered luxury sedan will attract lots of interest from media and some investors, looking for the next “big thing” in fossil free transportation.
Watching the first drive Fully Charged video brings back memories of the bright smiles of the young eGO Mobile team in Aachen on July 13th 2018, at the new factory inauguration, or the Sono Motors team during the test drive and the eMove 360 in Muenchen, couple of months later.
Courage, enthusiasm and knowledge are ingredients for future success for young entrepreneurs, when mixed with bone breaking hard work and generous financing. Lightyear team’s proposal to be “always charging in the sun”, to achieve the longest range sounds good, but has its physical limitations based one the available surface and efficiency of solar panels.
As the Sono Motors team found out during the preparations for launch of production of the Sion, their first EV with solar panels extending range (by about 4%), finding the right partners to get the parts on time and the production line moving is a difficult and expensive process, leading to a significant cost impact, driving up the initially promised price.
Having great innovative ideas and demonstrating their feasibility by running prototype validation and testing is a very important step in automotive development. The currently somewhat vague specifications (WLTP range 725 km with a “relatively small battery”…) will mature over the next year, providing a better definition of the battery size, range and maximum possible contribution of the solar panels.
Powered by four electric motors located in the wheels, Lightyear One’s top priority is not dynamic performance, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is estimated to be 10 seconds. As we hear in the Fully Charged video, focus is on safety, comfort, efficiency (83 Wh/100 km would be a record if achieved with production cars) and sustainability.
During the presentation of the prototype in Katwijk on June 25, Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear, emphasized the importance of the moment:
“Climate change is one of the biggest problems that we humans have faced in our history. It is such a frightening development that it is almost paralyzing. We decided to do the opposite; as engineers, we believed we could do something. Lightyear One represents a huge opportunity to change mobility for the better.”
Accepting that every EV, no matter of the energy source, will be compared with a similar Tesla model, will keep the team alert and prepared to provide the arguments why choosing a Lightyear One, at a higher price compared to a Model S, is the best option for future customers.
The reservation process started and you can reserve your personal sun charged Lightyear One here.