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World's First Solar Electric Car Starts Production

Dutch company Lightyear, which has spent the last six years developing the world's first solar-powered electric vehicle, has just started production of the Lightyear 0.

The Lightyear 0 solar electric car

Advances in battery technology have resulted in a significant reduction in charging times over the past few years. Lightyear founder and CEO Lex Hoefsloot, is, however, of the opinion that the rapid transition to EVs will result in a large number of vehicles seeking access to charging infrastructure, which won't scale up in sync with the increased demand. Solar-powered Lightyear cars, though, won't be wholly dependent on the infrastructure.

The Lightyear 0 is delivered with a charging cable plugged into any electrical socket to charge the EV. The battery pack on the car is a modest 60kWh which promises a 288-mile (463 km) range on a single charge. Combined with the solar charging available through double curved panels, the Lightyear 0 can reach up to 432 miles (695 km).

Since it is unlikely that a driver will fully deplete the battery every single day, the solar panels keep charging Lightyear 0 every day and add more miles every day. Based on an average commute of 21 miles (35 km), the Lightyear 0 can go a full two months before it needs to connect to a charger again.

In Germany, a company called Sono Motors is developing another solar car - an SUV - and claims to have already taken 42,000 reservations for the car in Europe. Their CEO says: “Our mission is solar on every vehicle because there is no point of not putting it on it. It is very cost-effective. It doesn’t add a lot of costs onto the bill of material for the car. So there’s actually no reason why not to integrate it.” Their SUV is likely to retail for around $25,000.

So, whilst Lightyear are first to market, there are bound to be others following. Though it must be hoped that more follow the Sono Motors price point. The Lightyear 0 can be yours for $325,000.

Lightyear has teamed up with Finland-based Valmet Automotive for its production requirements. Valmet has over a decade's experience producing EVs, and its previous collaborations include big names in the automobile industry, such as Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and Saab.

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