Solar-powered cars, like flying cars, have long been a sci-fi staple, but thanks to ever-more-efficient PV panels, they could soon enter the realm of reality. Aptera says its upcoming EV will be able to incrementally charge from solar panels, and Hyundai/Kia has announced plans to add panels to certain models.
Now the Dutch startup Lightyear, which has been working on a solar-equipped EV for a couple of years, has raised $48 million in a new funding round led by Zero Point Holding. The company, which currently has over 120 employees, including alumni of Tesla, Audi, McLaren and Ferrari, is in the final phase of selecting a production partner, and hopes to begin deliveries of its Lightyear One by the end of this year.
“Lightyear is commercializing a highly efficient electric vehicle with integrated solar cells in order to minimize the charging needs and grid dependency of the vehicle,” says the company. “Lightyear’s patent portfolio covers innovations for an efficient powertrain, high-yield solar roof and optimized thermal management system.”
The Lightyear One has four independent in-wheel motors and an estimated range of up to 725 kilometers (440 miles) on the WLTP regimen. Its unique feature: five square meters of solar panels encased in safety glass, mounted on the roof and hood. Lightyear says these will add up to 12 km of range per hour, reducing or eliminating the need to charge on a daily basis.
“This funding round will help us accelerate towards the first deliveries at the end of the year.” says Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear. “We are grateful for the support of all the individual investors and happy to welcome them as ambassadors to our mission.”