Driving Towards Sustainability: Production Commences for Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle

The Lightyear Zero – the world’s first on-road solar-powered electric car – has entered production in Finland, ahead of European deliveries starting next year.

Production begins for the world's first solar-powered electric car
First revealed as a prototype in 2016 – dubbed the Lightyear One – the production-ready Lightyear Zero went on sale in Europe in February 2022 with prices from 150,000 Euros.

Production begins for the world's first solar-powered electric car
Lightyear claims the Zero’s bodywork incorporates five square meters of solar panels, which can further increase driving range by up to 12 kilometers per hour on a sunny day. The battery can also be charged on the go.

While the Lightyear Zero’s modest 61.2kWh battery is smaller than that of the standard Tesla Model 3 (62.3kWh estimated), the Dutch company claims its solar cars can achieve the driving range up to 725km in the European WLTP test cycle.

Production begins for the world's first solar-powered electric car
Meanwhile Tesla claims the long-range variant of the Model 3 – powered by an 82kWh battery – can run for up to 602km on a single WLTP cycle charge.

The Lightyear Zero is capable of achieving this driving range thanks to its sleek aerodynamic body – which the automaker claims is more efficient than any other production car – and a limited weight of 1575kg, about 260kg higher than the original prediction.

Production begins for the world's first solar-powered electric car
According to Lightyear, the Zero is built for efficiency – rather than outright acceleration and speed – with four electric motors (one for each wheel) generating a combined output of 101kW and 1200Nm.

The solar vehicle will be sold exclusively in Europe, although Lightyear previously announced plans to launch a more affordable solar-powered electric vehicle.

Dubbed the Lightyear Two, the €30,000 solar car is expected to go on sale in Europe from 2024 or 2025.

Production begins for the world's first solar-powered electric car
The Lightyear Zero won’t be the only solar electric car made in Finland, after German startup Sono Motors unveiled the Sion in July this year.

Sono plans to launch the Sion in Europe next year, with the Sion solar car going on sale from €29,900.

More than 1900 European customers have deposited €2225 for the Sono Sion, which is said to be able to run for up to 305km on a single charge, with solar panels providing an extra 245km of driving range per week.

In September 2022, American technology startup Aptera Motors also announced the prototype “Gamma”, a three-wheeled electric car powered by solar energy. The American manufacturer announced that the car will go into production next year at its factory in California.

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