Lightyear One: The first solar-powered car you can buy
Lightyear One: The first solar-powered car you can buy (Photo: CNET/YouTube)

The Dutch group Lightyear whose prototype car won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge three years back recently introduced the Lightyear One, the world's first long-range solar car. It's an all-electric vehicle that can accommodate four passengers.

The One is a lightweight, four-wheel drive, coupé-style four-door, which Lightyear says will offer a range of around 450 miles on the WLTP combined cycle from a solar-electric hybrid powertrain. It was first revealed in June but only debuted in public this week in Sussex, England.

According to Lightyear, the One is capable of achieving this segment-leading range despite having a smaller battery than that found in other BEVs because it uses very little energy compared to conventional electric cars.

To reduce the expenditure of energy throughout the drivetrain, each wheel is driven independently. The materials used to create the One is also lightweight in order to minimize strain on the output of the battery.

The One can be charged in your usual 230V outlet as well as produce as much as 12,430 miles worth of energy each year from solar power, gaining up to 250 miles of range overnight.

The solar panels are found on the bonnet and roof of the car, measuring five meters square. They're all integrated into durable safety glass, which Lightyear describes as something that "a fully-grown adult can walk on them without causing dents."

Lex Hoefsloot, Lightyear's CEO said that their goal is fill in where EVs all short. Research has shown that range and the lack of charging options are still the top concerns that people have when considering purchasing electric cars."

The car will cost €149,000 (around $170,000) and the first 500 vehicles, called the Pioneer Edition, require a reservation payment of €119,000 (around $135,000). The regular Lightyear One requires a €19,000 down payment (roughly $21,000) if you want to own one of the first 1,000 and will ship in mid-2021. For those who want to pay cheaper on reservation fees, you may do so at €4,000 (roughly $4,500) but you'll have to wait until 2022.

Lightyear says that the successors of the One will focus on car-sharing, low operating costs, and high levels of autonomy to create a fully sustainable product range.

The first 100 models of the Lightyear One are already reserved. The company plans to take a working prototype next year at Goodwood Hill. The company should make more announcements about the One soon.