Tesla is probably the best-known electric vehicle company and the world’s largest electric automaker. While Tesla has been dominating the headlines in recent years, there are a few tech startup companies working on a new type of electric vehicle and usher in the solar car revolution that could forever change the way we look at electric vehicles.
For decades, countless inventors and engineers have tried to harness the power of the Sun. Thanks to advancements in photovoltaic Cells, it’s now more affordable to use solar energy generate to generate electricity for your homes. The dream of using solar energy to power transportation continues to push the technology boundary in the automotive industry.
However, building a practical solar-powered car, one that can actually compete with fossil fuel vehicles and today’s electric vehicles, has never really seemed possible. Until now. Engineers at two tech startups–Aptera Motors andLightyear–are one step closer to harnessing the Sun to power your next car, giving the auto industry renewed interest in solar.
Aptera Motors (formerly Accelerated Composites) is a San Diego, California-based startup whose name comes from the ancient Greek for “wingless.” Aptera was founded in 2005 and later liquidated in 2011. Then two years ago, in early 2019, Aptera was re-formed by the original founders, Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro, as Aptera Motors Corp.
With funding from a crowdfunding campaign, the two co-founders were able to restart the development of what is touted as the most highly efficient road vehicle in the world. Now Aptera is rolling out its first mass-produced solar car this year.
The three-wheel car is an ultra-aerodynamic electric vehicle covered in 34 square feet of solar cells. The car is so efficient that, on a clear day, those cells alone could provide enough energy to drive about 40 miles — more than twice the distance of the average American’s commute.”
The second startup is Lightyear, a Netherlands-based solar electric car startup that develops an ultra-energy-efficient automotive platform. The company was founded in 2016 by Arjo van der Ham, Koen van Ham, Lex Hoefsloot, Martijn Lammers, and Qurein Biewenga.
Lightyear team consists of an international team of 90 experienced engineers including triple winners of the World Solar Challenge from the aerospace, racing, and automotive industry (e.g. ASML, Tesla, Ferrari andInalfa) and alumni of the Eindhoven University of Technology. The company’s flagship solar-powered car is the Lightyear One, a prototype ‘solar car’ covered in solar panels with 450 miles of range. Lightyear said it plans to start delivering to consumers in 2021.
Lightyear One is a long-range solar electric vehicle designed to be grid-independent and to drive anywhere. Its unique vehicle architecture and technology have been developed with high efficiency in mind, allowing Lightyear One to consume only 83 Wh/km — two to three times less energy than any other electric vehicle on the market today. This results in an exceptional range of 725 km (WLTP) with the lowest emissions, the lowest charging frequency, and 7,000 to 20,000 kilometers of free, effortless, and clean solar range every year.
Below is a video overview of how the solar car revolution could change EVs forever.