Electric vehicle startup Lightyear recently unveiled the Lightyear 0 — a luxurious electric vehicle (EV) with its bonnet, roof, and boot covered in solar panels to add extra charge to its electric battery.
The sleek sedan boasts a 60kWh battery pack that offers a WLTP range of 625km on a single charge.
The pack can be charged using conventional home or public EV chargers or its solar roof.
The latter will put juice in the battery whenever it is exposed to the sun — either during driving or while parked.
Lightyear said the solar roof could add around 10km of range per hour, typically up to a maximum of 70km per day, or roughly 11,000km per year.
“In cloudy climates, based on the average commute of around 35km per day, you can drive for up to two months before you need to think about charging,” Lightyear explained. “In sunnier countries, that could be up to seven months.”
When owners need to plug in to add more power, home charging via a typical outlet will provide a further 32km of range per hour, public charging will add roughly 200km, and fast charging will provide 520km per hour.
In terms of performance, Lightyear said the EV will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 10 seconds, which is slow compared to many other electric cars on the market. It will also be capped at a top speed of 160km/h.
The first test drives for potential buyers will begin this month, with the production of retail units starting during the US fall (South African spring).
It will come with a hefty price tag of $263,000 (R4.18 million).
But buyers might be able to recoup some of that investment through its solar roof charging, which won’t cost a cent, unlike plugging in.
Lightyear is also developing the Lightyear 2, which it has teased as a grid-independent model at an affordable price point. It expects to start selling this model by 2024 or 2025.
Lightyear is not the only car manufacturer working on EVs equipped with solar panels for extra charging.
MyBroadband got a first-hand look at the Fisker Ocean during Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona a few months ago.
However, the compact SUV’s solar roof can only provide around 2,400km to 3,200km of extra range per year, significantly less than the Lightyear 0.
The upside is that it has a much more affordable price, starting at $37,499 (R595,362) in the US.