Have you ever dreamed of driving a car that runs on sunlight and never needs to be plugged in? A car that is eco-friendly, energy-efficient, and futuristic? Well, your dream may soon become a reality, thanks to some innovative companies that are developing solar-powered cars for the mass market.
Solar-powered cars are vehicles that use self-contained solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity and power themselves fully or partially. They typically have a rechargeable battery to store and regulate the energy from the solar cells and from regenerative braking. Some solar cars can also be plugged into external power sources to supplement the power of sunlight.
Solar cars have been around for decades, but mostly as prototypes or experimental vehicles for solar car races. However, in recent years, some companies have started to design and produce solar cars for public roads, aiming to offer a viable alternative to conventional fossil-fuel vehicles.
One of these companies is Lightyear, a Dutch startup founded by former members of a successful solar car racing team. Lightyear claims to have developed the world's first production-ready solar car: the Lightyear 0.
The Lightyear 0 is a sleek sedan that boasts 5 square meters of curved solar panels on its roof and hood. These panels can add up to 44 miles (70 km) of range per day in optimal conditions, according to the company. The car also has a battery pack that can store enough energy for 388 miles (625 km) of range between charges. The company says that tests suggest that people with a daily commute of fewer than 22 miles (35 km) could drive for two months in the Netherlands without needing to plug in, while those in sunnier places like Portugal or Spain could go as long as seven months.
The Lightyear 0 is not only powered by sunlight but also designed to maximize its efficiency. It has an aerodynamic shape, low-rolling resistance tires, lightweight materials and four independent electric motors. The company says that it uses three times less energy than an average electric vehicle.
The Lightyear 0 is expected to start delivery by November 2023, but it comes with a hefty price tag: €250,000 ($285,000). The company says that it plans to produce more affordable models in the future.
Another company that is working on bringing solar cars to the market is Aptera Motors, a California-based startup that was revived after going bankrupt in 2011. Aptera Motors has designed a futuristic-looking three-wheeled vehicle called Aptera.
The Aptera has an ultra-lightweight body made of composite materials and features over 3 square meters of integrated solar cells on its surface. These cells can generate up to 40 miles (64 km) of range per day under ideal conditions. The vehicle also has a battery pack that can provide up to 1000 miles (1609 km) of range on a single charge. The company claims that it is the most efficient vehicle ever made.
The Aptera has two electric motors on its front wheels and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in just 3.5 seconds. It also has advanced features like self-driving technology, adaptive cruise control, and touch-screen controls.
How to get one?
If you are interested in owning an Aptera car, you can reserve one now on their website with a refundable deposit starting from $100. You can customize your car according to your preferences and choose from various options such as color scheme (black/white), wheel size (15/16 inch), motor configuration (FWD/AWD/3WD), battery size (25/42/60/100 kWh), solar package (standard/full), safety package (standard/enhanced), off-road package (standard/enhanced), pet package (yes/no), camping package (yes/no), etc.
The prices range from $25k for FWD with a standard solar package & safety package & no extras & smallest battery size up to $50k+ for AWD with full solar package & enhanced safety package & all extras & largest battery size.
The company expects to start production in late 2023 or early 2024 at their facility in San Diego California USA, but they have not announced an official delivery date yet.