Lightyear Solar Car gets TNO’s assistance in curving solar panels

Lightyear, the Dutch EV start-up, started testing its signature solar technology with two research vehicles that include a Tesla Model 3 this year.

Now it has extended its collaboration signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with TNO, an independent research organization, to continue to customize and improve its solar energy technology. TNO has already helped Lightyear with developing aerodynamic solar panels that go on to the body of the car.

As the company claims, researchers at TNO have adapted DSM’s conductive back sheet foil, which is normally used for rectangular solar panels, in order to produce aerodynamically curved more energy-efficient and lightweight solar components. These are suitable for volume manufacturing, claims the company. These improvements to the technology would enable Lightyear to implement it faster in its electric car and integrate it easily into the production process.

The Lightyear One solar car is claimed to be capable of running 725 km on a single charge with the solar panels on the body assisting in charging the battery when stationary and in motion.

Lightyear testing its technology using a VW & Tesla

In an attempt to validate Lightyear’s technology, the company this year fitted its solar technology on to a Volkswagen Crafter van and a solar roof on a Tesla Model 3. The research vehicles will help to demonstrate the value of integrated solar cells and offer additional data from the real world on things like shock absorption, water-proofness and vibration impact.

Lightyear is collaborating with other companies for various business models. They have joined hands with the multinational DSM to develop a high-growth business case for the solar vehicle market. Lightyear is also working with LeasePlan and Mijndomein to make solar technology more accessible and to pioneer sustainable and clean mobility.

Lightyear looks to produce 100,000 units of its solar-powered car

The Dutch EV start-up unveiled the world’s first long-range solar car in June 2019 and the model is set to start production in 2021. Lightyear wants to scale up production and start high-volume production of more than 100,000 cars around 2023.

During the first year, the Lightyear One will be limited to an exclusive series of 946 units. Though detailed specifications are yet to be revealed, the One solar car is claimed by the company to offer a range of up to 725 km (WLTP). The electric car is driven by four independent motors in the wheels and can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 10 seconds. The main highlight of the car is the solar panels on the roof and the hood that add around 12 km per hour in the sun. The car supports fast-charging and with a 60 kW fast charger, up to 570 km worth of charging can be done in an hour.

To save weight, Lightyear has used a combination of aluminium and carbon fibre in the build and the company has also stated that the One has an impressively low aerodynamic drag, the best for any car in the market.

Lightyear One measures 5,057 mm in length and can set five adults, with a luggage capacity of 780 litres. Inside, the dashboard is fitted with a digital instrument cluster and a touchscreen infotainment system, devoid of any buttons. The One offers features like wireless charging, OTA updates, Companion app, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Lightyear was founded in 2016 by the members of Solar Team Eindhoven that won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2013, 2015 and 2017. Their knowledge in solar and vehicle technology enabled them to develop a working prototype in just two years. CEO and co-founder, Lex Hoefsloot says that the main goal of the Lightyear One is to overcome the range issues and lack of charging options faced by electric cars.