A new upstart automaker out of the Netherlands, Lightyear, took the wraps off of its first offering late June, the One, an electric four-door vehicle (to call it a sedan would be stretching the definition) designed to charge its batteries using the power of the sun.
According to the company, it has a maximum range of 725 kilometres when its batteries are fully juiced with the help of a wall charger.
Maximum solar range is said to be in the 30-km ballpark, given ideal conditions.
To cheat the wind, it has been sculpted to look like a lozenge, or, some might even suggest, a suppository (at least to this author's jaundiced eye).
It does herald the long-awaited return of wheel skirts, with the half-moon cover evoking memories of the Hudson Hornet and just about any Citroën. The car is roughly 200 inches long, about the same size as a new Ford Explorer.
That 725-km range, by the way, is measured by the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). This is a new global harmonised standard for determining the levels of pollutants, energy consumption and electric range from light-duty vehicles. It is said to provide more realistic estimates for customers than older methods.
Lightyear One is propelled by four independently driven wheels. The company says in addition to lowering the weight and improving control, this setup means no energy is lost in transit
from the motor to the wheel. Horsepower isn't mentioned, but the Lightyear One can allegedly scoot to 100 km/h from rest in about ten seconds.
As for those solar panels, the cells are said to function independently, meaning even if part of the roof or hood is in shadow, the other cells continue to collect solar energy. It's estimated that a person could get about 40 per cent of their mileage from solar energy, even in a cloudy place like the company's Dutch homeland. That's based on driving 20,000 km per year, by the way.
The Lightyear One will be priced at 149,000 euros (about $223,000 Canadian bucks, at today's exchange rate). Its website says 411 of 500 Pioneer Edition cars are available at that price, requiring a reservation payment of 119,000 euros.
The company says Pioneer Editions will enter production in early 2021. Slobs who popped for the regular Lightyear One, requiring just a 4,000-euro ante, will have to wait about an additional six months for their solar wonder.