Lightyear is a Dutch start up with the mission of developing long-range electric cars. What makes these cars unusual is that, rather than needing to be charged every few hours, the car would power itself with solar panels on roof.

Are solar panels a sustainable way to power a car?

It may seem ridiculous, or like a proposition that is doomed to fail given how much energy cars require, but the founders behind the company Lightyear believe that solar panels do have the potential to power cars over long distances.

If solar panels could be used to power cars over long distances it would solve a range of problems: firstly, cars would not be required to use any petrol, and the emissions would therefore be next to zero. This will clearly be a popular proposal amongst eco-warriors.

Furthermore, if there is no prerequisite to charge the car every now and then, this gives a lot more freedom to the driver in terms of planning their routes and makes for a far more efficient journey.

However, it doesn’t seem likely that solar panels alone will be powering cars any time near in the future. Lightyear themselves have stated that “in perfect conditions”, the vehicle can potentially power itself for 40 miles a day – any more than that and the car will still be required to plug in to the grid. If you live in a sunny country and don’t need to travel far, there are clear advantages to a car like this.

The production of Lightyear 0, formerly known as Lightyear One, is scheduled to commence in Autumn of this year, with the car expected to reach a retail price of around €250,000.

The company has already sold 150 of these vehicles in advance but have stated that they have the production capacity to build up to 1,000 – this first model then, is clearly more of an indication that the company wishes to showcase their foray into the industry and hopes for subsequent models to become more mass-produced.

Lightyear raised $81m to build their product lines

In order to begin their production line of innovative and technically complex new cars, Lightyear raised $81m.  This is in addition to when their prototype debuted in 2019, for which they raised another $100m.

It is no surprise that the company is attempting to raise so much capital for the idea, given the relative size of their competition.

German car manufacturer Sono Motors recently revealed that they will also be releasing a solar powered car, albeit in 2023 – Lightsaber are looking to be the first on the market.

Not only this, but the electric car industry has now developed into one of the most competitive in the world. Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors has grown from being “just a car company” into an artificial intelligence and robotics company – in a world where the competition is so well-resourced and the company has so many moving parts, Lightyear will need a lot of capital just to be able to compete.

At the same time, Lightyear are building another product line, which they hope to sell to a much larger market.

Unlike the Lightyear 0, which is not at an affordable price tag for more car buyers, the Lightyear 2 will be sold for just €30,000, and will be available in a far wider range of markets, including mainland Europe, the UK, the US, and Asia.

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