While the world is slowly embracing electric vehicles and it is slowly becoming mainstream to own an electric car, there are still several hurdles for the majority of the world. In many first world countries the infrastructure has now been built that can support a quick charge almost a regularly as traditional filling stations, which negates the number one concern for potential buyers: range. The rest of the world, however, is still lagging behind in infrastructure making the 300-400km range of most electric vehicles unviable.
A Dutch clean mobility company called Lightyear is tackling this problem with the Lightyear One, with a range of 725km and a small battery that can be charged directly via sunlight, or from conventional charging stations. Of course, the idea is that you could potentially take longer road trips as a result of not being dependant on the aforementioned infrastructure.
The roof and the bonnet of the car houses the solar panel charging plates, which covers about five square metres of solar cells. It is protected beneath safety glass, which the company claims is “so strong that a fully-grown adult can walk on them without causing dents.” It is also designed to be as light as possible (obviously).
Having a car as light as possible delivers more range as well, and the company claims that you could charge up to 400km of range overnight with a traditional charging socket. The solar panels add an additional charge of up to 12 km/hour (7.5 miles/hour).
Of course, this first generation product is going to be extremely expensive, and is only expected to hit the mass market in 2021. Nonetheless, pioneering technologies like this give us a glimpse into what we could expect in the years and decades to come as most of the world moves towards greener solutions.