There are many electric cars that come with a solar roof, however, the Lightyear 0 is the first vehicle that can operate purely on solar energy for daily commutes.
Lightyear, a Netherlands-based company, named their first commercial car the 0 to represent how the brand started from a blank slate. It was previously teased as the Lightyear One back in 2019 but the name changed over the years.
The Lightyear 0 has 5 square meters of double curved solar arrays on the hood, roof and the rear window that can charge the car while driving or parked. This provides up to 44 miles (70km) of range per day in optimal conditions, for extra convenience, the vehicle can be plugged in to charge its 60kwh battery pack which have a 388-mile (624km) WLTP range.
According to Lightyear, owners of the 0 with a daily commute of around 22 miles (35km) could drive for two months in the Netherlands’ summer without needing to plug in, while people in Portugal or Spain could go without charging for seven months. Depending on the climate the sun can provide around 3,700 to 6,800 miles of range per year.
“In climates such as the Netherlands, it would be two months and, in Spain or Portugal, as much as seven months,” Lightyear claims.
Lightyear has experience in this field, it created the series of Stella solar cars that won the World Solar Challenge in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Powering the Lightyear 0 is four electric motors that provide just 174 horsepower but a massive 1,269 lb-ft of torque which can sprint from 0 to 62 mph (100kmh) in 10 seconds and reach a top speed of 100 mph, but speed isn’t the focus on such a vehicle.
The car has been designed by Grantstudio and the former design director of Pininfarina to achieve the streamlined teardrop body which has a drag coefficient of just 0.19 which is better than the Mercedes-Benz EQS but trails the Mercedes Vision EQXX concept. Such aerodynamics make it possible for the Lightyear 0 to achieve such range running on solar energy alone.
Lightyear is heavily focused on the environment, the body is made from reclaimed carbon fiber, the cabin uses sustainable, vegan materials like microfiber upholstery, plant-based leather and fabrics made from recycled bottles. The exterior can come in different colours including three different browns and a fabulous minty green. There are no side mirrors, the 0 use cameras instead.
The interior is minimalistic, on the dash is a 10.1-inch touchscreen that runs the Android Automotive operating system. Other modern features include built-in navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, phone-as-key capability and over-the-air updates. The vehicle can sit five adults, but due to the solar panels, there is no sunroof or rear window.
Only 946 units of the Lightyear 0 will be produced, and they will cost a premium. Lightyear says the 0 starts at 250,000 Euros (about $266,000), nearly double the initially announced price of the One in 2019 (€119,000). For the price you get the world’s first true solar vehicle that doesn’t need refueling or recharging costs at all for daily short work – home commutes. Additionally, buyers will get an 8-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. Production starts around fall with first deliveries coming in November. Valmet Automotive in Finland will be in charge of production, it has been involved in manufacturing of various cars from different brands including Porsche Boxster and Cayenne. In future, Lightyear 2 is scheduled to launch in 2024 for a price of around €30,000 which sounds similar to Tesla’s road map.