The world's first solar electric car Lightyear 0 now enters production

The facility will produce one car a week, to begin with.
Ameya Paleja
Lightyear 0
Lightyear 0

Lightyear 

Dutch company Lightyear, which has spent the last six years developing technologies to make the world's first solar-powered electric vehicle has now entered a very important phase of its lifetime. Its first model, Lightyear 0 has now entered production, a company press release said.

As the world moves toward electric modes of transportation, new challenges are being thrown up. Unlike combustion engine-powered vehicles that can be refueled virtually anywhere and in no time, electric vehicles require dedicated charging infrastructure and time to charge the batteries.

Advances in battery technology have resulted in a significant reduction in charging times over the past few years. Lightyear founder and CEO Lex Hoefsloot, is, however, of the opinion that the rapid transition to EVs will result in a large number of vehicles seeking access to charging infrastructure, which won't scale up in sync with the increased demand. Solar-powered Lightyear cars, though, won't be dependent on the infrastructure.

Lightyear's reduced dependence on charging stations

The Lightyear 0 is delivered with a charging cable plugged into any electrical socket to charge the EV. The battery pack on the car is a modest 60kWh which promises a 288-mile (463 km) range on a single charge. Combined with the solar charging available through double curved panels, the Lightyear 0 can reach up to 432 miles (695 km).

Since it is unlikely that a driver will exact the full juice of the battery every single day, the panels keep charging Lightyear 0 every day and add more miles every day. Based on an average commute of 21 miles (35 km), the Lightyear 0 can go a full two months before it needs to connect to a wall-socket charger again.

Interestingly, the car is well-designed and does not show any signs of compromise a user has to make to gain the solar charging advantage. While all this was great during the prototype stage, Lightyear has now entered a crucial phase of actual production.

Lightyear 0 production begins

Lightyear has teamed up with Finland-based Valmet Automotive for its production requirements. Valmet has over a decade's experience producing EVs, and its previous collaborations include big names in the automobile industry, such as Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and Saab.

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To begin with, the facility will produce one car a week and is looking to scale up production by Q1 2023. Having spent its time establishing a reliable supply chain with reputable partners, Lightyear now looks set to not only deliver solar-powered electric vehicles to interested customers but also turn designs of its future models into reality.

Last year, Interesting Engineering reported that the company is working on a successor for Lightyear 0 dubbed Two, which is expected to require even lesser access to electric charging and will be friendlier on the pockets for those looking to snap them up.

"Starting production of Lightyear 0, the first solar car, brings us a big step closer to our mission of clean mobility for everyone, everywhere," said Lex Hoefsloot, in the press release. "We may be the first to achieve this, but I certainly hope we aren’t the last.”

The era of solar electric vehicles has officially begun.