Lightyear 0, we drove the car that recharges with the Sun | Video

The idea behind the Lightyear projecta Dutch company founded by some students who were part of the team of Solar Team Eindhoven which has won several editions of the World Solar Challenge, is very simple and is that of use the sun’s energy to recharge the batteries of an electric car using panels integrated directly into the car. In this way it is not only possible to increase the autonomy of a vehicle, but also to reduce its “dependence” on the columns for supplying energy.

Starting from this idea and thanks to the skills acquired in the development of the cars for the World Solar Challenge, the Dutch startup had presented the Lightyear One in 2019, the first prototype of a solar-powered car. After several years of development referred we have spoken to you several times over time, in early June the company has removed the veils on the Lightyear 0basically the production version of the solar-powered car.


Lightyear 0, the solar car debuts.  Up to 70 km more per day thanks to the sun


Auto
09 June

Model that, we remind you, will be produced in just 946 specimens. For Lightyear, this car represents a kind of manifesto of the technology she has been able to develop. It is about a starting point for an ambitious growth plan. What has been learned, in fact, will be poured into a future new model, called at the moment Lightyear Two, which will be much more accessible and high-volume produced.

A couple of weeks after the presentation of the Lightyear 0, HDMotori flew to Spain to see this new solar-powered electric car up close. We also had the opportunity to try it, albeit for a few kilometers, to test its potential.

THERE IS A LITTLE BIT OF ITALY



We know the design of the Lightyear 0 well as we have written about this car several times. The Lightyear team, with whom we spoke a lot, pointed out the great work it has been done for optimize aerodynamics to the maximum, with the aim of improving the efficiency of the car as much as possible. The result, data in hand, is a Cx of 0.19. For example, the choice of partially covering the rear wheels has reduced energy consumption by 1.9%. The particular aerodynamic design of the wheel rims, on the other hand, has enabled a reduction in energy consumption of 3.5%. No exterior mirrors traditional. In their place, external cameras that show the images inside two mini displays in the passenger compartment.

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This aerodynamic optimization work did not affect the space on board. 5 people can get on and travel comfortably inside the passenger compartment. Also, thanks to the car’s elongated shape, the trunk it is really very large. Lightyear declares a capacity of 640 liters.

The car was designed from scratch, starting with a blank sheet. There is also a bit of Italy in this project. Indeed, the design of the car has been achieved from the Granstudio of Turin. Recall that the Lightyear 0 misura 5,083mm long x 1,972mm wide x 1,445mm high. The weight is 1,575 kg.

The issue of sustainability is also very important for Lightyear. For this, sustainable materials were used for the interior. The infotainment features a 10.1-inch touch display and OTA updates are supported.

IT CHARGES WITH THE SUN



Lightyear 0 has a powertrain consisting of 4 electric motors, one per wheel (97% efficiency). The overall power is 130 kW. Speaking of performance, the top speed is 160km / h while to pass from 0 to 100 km / h it takes 10 seconds. Over the years, the electric ones have accustomed us to important powers and performances. The philosophy behind Lightyear is, however, different. The goal is efficiencyin order to offer the maximum possible distance.

To power the engines, one 60 kWh battery (NMC) liquid cooled which allows you to have a distance up to 625 km according to the WLTP cycle. The Lightyear 0, of course, can be recharged in the traditional way, from a common column. The company officially provides charging information in a different way than what we usually see. Instead of specifying the power in kW, it provides the mileage data that can be recovered with a one-hour charge.


Therefore, in direct current, it is possible to recover up to 520 km in an hour. In any case, we have learned that in direct current, the battery can recharge up to a maximum power of 50 kW. Speaking of efficiency, for this electric car, Lightyear declares a consumption of just 10.5 kWh per 100 km. The even more interesting fact is that the speed of 110 km / hthe car is capable of drive for another 560 km with a full of energy. If these numbers are confirmed by real road tests, it will be a truly remarkable result.

Solar technology is obviously the flagship of this car. Lightyear has worked hard on this front, making important steps forward over time. THE photovoltaic panels they are placed on the bonnet and on the roof of the car, for a total surface of 5 square meters. In optimal conditions, the integrated solar system allows the battery to be recharged to a maximum power of 1,05 kW.

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All this translates into the possibility of having a extra maximum of 70 km of travel per day thanks to the energy of the Sun. According to Lightyear, it is possible to have on average up to 11,000 additional km per year, obviously free. Always in ideal climatic conditions, such as those of Spain, assuming the classic average daily route of 35 km, it would be possible to drive for 7 months without having to recharge.

Lightyear said its solar charging technology will also be offered to other companies and car manufacturers in the future.

HOW IS IT GOING? FIRST ROAD TEST



Up to here the cold numbers. But how is Lightyear 0 really going? As mentioned at the beginning, we had the chance to take a short test drive of this new electric car. It must be said that the car used it was not yet in the final version. Some aspects still need to be refined. The first deliveries, however, remain scheduled for the end of the year.

That the car was still a “prototype” was also noticeable by the presence of some elements of the interior that were not definitive and for the big red button which is used to “turn everything off” in case of problems.

It must be said right away that the car is very spacious. I exceed 180 cm in height and have not had any problems with find the right driving position (the seat has electric adjustments). No problems even for the head or the legs. Space, therefore, was not lacking. On the other hand, judging the comfort of the seat is not possible since the test drive lasted just about ten kilometers, all on a state road.

The rear view mirrors are digital. The internal displays in the car did not offer great definition and were perhaps even a little too small. The visibility, therefore, was not the best. However, as I have been told, they are not the definitive ones. From this point of view there will be an important step forward.

I have not been able to test all the functions of the infotainment system, based on Android Automotive OS, as it is not yet complete. In any case, the functions related to consumption and recharge data they are well done. The screenshots showing how much the Sun is contributing in terms of recharging and which solar panels are generating electricity at that time are very nice. Obviously there is an app, already downloadable on the Play Store and App Store which, at the moment, only provides some statistics on the autonomy and on the recharge of the Sun. In the future, obviously, many more functions will arrive.

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But how does it go on the road? The first approach was positive. With this car you get comfortable in really no time even if you notice that some things still need to be fine-tuned. For example, it steering was particularly hard in maneuver.

The technician who was with me, mandatory nurse when testing prototypes, explained to me that they still have to carry out several refinements and optimizations at the level of the powertrain, regenerative braking, steering and suspension. Well driving with only one pedal which is one of the most interesting features of electric cars: I appreciated this feature especially in the vicinity of roundabouts and some short urban stretches and only the tuning of the regeneration is missing, a necessary calibration because during the test the recovery power never has exceeded 26 kW.

Good reactivity in acceleration: the car is certainly not sporty and is designed for efficiency, but thanks to the power immediately available it can be driven pleasantly. Obviously this aspect should be further explored on a different and longer path.


Speaking of consumption, my test ended with 105.5 Wh / km. A promising result that I would like to deepen with a longer trial.

How much have solar panels contributed? The test drive was carried out at 8:20 in the morning with 21 degrees of external temperature and the air conditioning set at comfort temperature and always active. With the sun still lowat their best, the panels generated a peak power of approx. 0.4 kW.

PREZZO



As mentioned at the beginning, the Lightyear 0 will be produced in 946 units. The cost is important and is equal to 250.000 euro. It is, as the company has pointed out, a car designed to showcase the technology they have been able to create.

What has been learned will then be transferred to future models which will be much more accessible. La Lightyear Twoin fact, it should arrive on the market between 2024 and 2025 to a starting price around 30,000 euros.

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[Aggiornato 23/06/2022 con il video]

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