Inside The $170K Solar Car That Drives 500 Miles On One Charge

This is the Lightyear One, an all-electric luxury car
that, according to its creators, can drive almost 500
miles on a single charge. Compare that to the average electric car that gets around 190 miles, and even Tesla's top Model S
that manages an impressive 370. So how is 500 miles possible? It's because of these. The Lightyear One is powered by the sun using 54 square feet of solar panels covering the roof and hood. And Lightyear's 29-year-old
CEO thinks his car can change the electric-car market. While the Lightyear One
is first and foremost a plug-in electric vehicle
that can fast-charge up to 354 miles worth of
energy within an hour, its self-charging capability
could find certain owners rarely even needing to plug their car in. The sun can add up to an
additional 7 1/2 miles each hour to the vehicle's total range. In ideal conditions, its
solar panels can generate over 12,000 miles worth
of energy in a year. The car is set to hit
production lines in 2021 and is available for preorder now.

The One's manufacturer, Dutch startup company Lightyear, was founded in 2016 by former members of a team of engineering students whose solar-powered vehicles won the Bridgestone World
Solar Challenge race in 2013, 2015, and 2017. We asked the company's
ambitious CEO, Lex Hoefsloot, to answer this question for us: Why solar power? According to the company, the Lightyear One's
battery alone is capable of up to 450 miles of driving range. On a sunny day, those
solar panels will net you an additional 35 to 47 miles. Even faced with zero
sunlight, heavy winds, and below-freezing temperatures that require the heating
on the entire time, Lightyear still guarantees
around 250 miles of range. But while the Lightyear
One's maximum driving range far surpasses that of
even Tesla's top model, the car's four electric motors definitely won't keep up with a Model S.

However, Lex says the car was never built to be a speed demon, trading
fast acceleration time for faster road trips. Although Lightyear's efforts toward renewable energy are admirable, the general public has still been hesitant to adopt basic electric vehicles. Where in the car market do
solar-powered cars even fit? Lightyear is taking preorders
now for the first 500 cars for a reservation price of about $135,000.

When the car finally hits
Netherland production lines in 2021, the price is expected
to start at about $170,000. Despite the expensive
cost, Lex isn't worried, as the price of solar
technology continues to drop, which should eventually allow Lightyear to launch cheaper models..

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