The solar car exists and its performances are impressive since it displays, on the circuit, a record autonomy of more than 700 km at a speed of 85 km/h. Its secret: 5 m2 of solar panels spread over the surfaces of its bodywork which supply it with electrical energy.
If you closely follow the technological progress that may accompany the energy transition, you will inevitably be captivated by this impressive solar car. Perhaps (almost) clean mobility is not a utopia…
Lightyear One is a 100% electric car prototype, equipped with a solar charging system. Solar panels are spread over most surfaces of its body. In theory, this gives it a particularly long range, greater than 700 km.
Its solar panel coverage extends battery life by 70 km per sunny day. Very interesting therefore, in case of short trips and… good weather!
The performance of the solar car
At the base of the project, there are engineering students from the University of Eindhoven (Netherlands) who worked on this revolutionary vehicle for four years. In July 2021, their Lightyear One, with its 4-wheel drive (each connected to its own engine), demonstratedimpressive performances on a German test track.
Judge instead: 700 km range with a single battery charge of 60 kWh, thanks in particular to the very careful aerodynamics of this new generation solar vehicle. Never before has an electric vehicle traveled such a long distance with this type of (small) battery.
The Lightyear One develops correct power since the manufacturer announces a acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 10 seconds, which corresponds to a better performance than the average of vehicles currently circulating on our roads (about 14 sec).
The full test ranged from validation of the yield of solar panelsfrom the performance of the battery, the energy consumption of the cooling system, to the operation of the in-wheel motors and the software running the solar car.
After validation of the technical performance, further driving tests and accident simulations are planned as part of the approval process of the solar car.
Solar car versus electric vehicle
The most efficient electric cars today consume around 50% more energy at a speed of 85 km/h. It is proof of steady progress made by the team of engineers in recent years. The latter have also promised that they will soon be able to reach a level of energy consumption similar to 110 km/h.
Further reducing the energy consumption per kilometer will mean greater range with this small battery. The batteries are the part the most expensive electric vehicles, so progress on the plan will translate to the price of the solar car.
Low energy cars can also benefit much more from adding solar cells to the car and gain about 75 km charge on a sunny day.
Hydrogen: clean energy or luxury industry?
And if the electric car was not the panacea?
Better than electric car, solar car
A game to make you aware of climate issues
4 times the price of a Tesla Model 3
The only downside is the cost of such a vehicle! The solar car Lightyear is not intended for the general public. It will be produced in fewer than 1,000 copies from 2022 and its selling price is set at 150,000 euros. It’s still 4 times the price of the Tesla Model 3 and 5 times that of the Renault Zoé.
However, Lightyear’s ambition is to make the accessible clean mobility to all. The company is preparing for the industrialization of its solar car for the mass market from 2024.
According to Lightyear, the concept of a long-range solar car represents a huge opportunity for change mobility, to be able to drive for months without recharging. The adventure of the solar car has only just begun…