Lightyear to sell solar cars
Dutch students to build their proven sun-powered cars by 2019
HAVING reported extensively on the solar-powered cars built by Dutch students in Eindhoven, Wheels is happy to report they have now taken the next step — to create a solar car for sale to the public.
Five Solar Team Eindhoven alumni founded Lightyear, including Qurein Biewenga, who did his high school at Waterkloof Hoërskool in Pretoria and now heads finance and operations in the young company.
Co-founder Martijn Lammers explains they proved their concept in Solar Team Eindhoven by building the revolutionary solar cars Stella and Stella Lux.
Both are four-seaters, road legal, solar-powered and winners of two World Solar Challenge world championships.
Their next mission is to have a solar car drive one light year in total distance.
“Currently, all cars of the world combined drive one light year, every year. That is 9,5 billion kilometres. Every year, powered by fossil fuels.
“Our goal is to accelerate the adoption of electric cars so that by 2030, one light year will have been driven electric,” said Lammers.
Lightyear has not yet revealed their new car, but based on what worked in the three iterations in the Stella solar cars, the Lightyear One willl have hub motors in mountain bike wheels, a lithium-ion battery pack, a wide, low, light body, a 5 m² “roof” to house the solar panels and computer-controlled torque (read “slow”) to save power going uphill.
“Light”, “low” and “slow” are not words that South Africa’s big bakkie buyers want to hear, and Wheels confidently predicts that even the prospect of not paying for fuel ever again will not stop the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux from being the two most sold vehicles locally for many years to come.
But the intrepid engineers at Lightyear are not too perturbed by our current preferences. Lammers said since their solar-powered vehicle does not need a charging infrastructure, it will be “extremely scalable” in developing countries.
Depending on the battery configuration, the group’s current technology offers 400 to 800 km of rangebuffered per battery.
Joining these elite young guns in their mission will not be cheap.
The group are currently crowdfunding the car and are asking a refundable payment of €19 000 (R327 400). This gets investors a reservation on the first 10 Lightyear One cars to be built during 2019, with the next 100 cars expected in 2020.