Created by members of the 2013 and 2015 winning Eindhoven team of the World Solar Challenge, the annual solar car race between Darwin and Adelaide, Australia can be credited with a small but important role in the development of the technology. The challenge provided the Dutch team with a competitive arena for Lightyear’s founding members to develop, hone and road test their early designs.
Although the final specifications for Lightyear 2 are yet to be released, it is expected the newest version will build on the successes of earlier prototypes.
To maximise space for solar power absorption, the last design, Lightyear 0 utilised five square metres of solar panels spread across the roof and bonnet. These panels enabled the car to absorb and convert solar energy to power 70km of daily trips without charge.
Like many designs entered into the challenge, this commercial version has covered rear wheels to prioritise aerodynamics. This focus on aerodynamics saw Lightyear 0 top the list for low drag in electric vehicles, beating out brands like Mercedes and Lucid.
Lightyear 2 may, however, need to balance solar absorption and aerodynamics with car length considerations. At 5083mm in length, Lightyear 0 was longer than popular Australian family cars like Mitsubishi Outlander’s measuring 4695mm and Toyota’s Rav 4 at 4600mm. In a country with so much sunshine, Australian drivers stand to benefit from advances in electric vehicles like this using solar technology.
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