The Lightyear Zero – the world’s first road-ready solar-powered electric car – has entered production in Finland, ahead of European deliveries starting next year.
First revealed as a prototype in 2016 – named Lightyear One – the production-ready Lightyear Zero went on sale in Europe in February 2022, priced from €150,000 ($AU231,000).
Lightyear claims the Zero’s bodywork incorporates five square metres of solar panels, which can add up to 12km of driving range every hour on a sunny day.
The battery can also be charged while on the move, with Lightyear bolding claiming the Zero can “commute for months before ever needing a plug charge.”
While the Lightyear Zero’s modest 61.2kWh battery is smaller than the standard Tesla Model 3 (estimated 62.3kWh), the Dutch company claims its solar car can achieve a driving range up to 725km on the European WLTP test cycle.
In comparison, Tesla claims the Model 3’s Long Range variant – powered by an 82kWh battery – can drive up to 602km on a charge on the WLTP cycle.
The Lightyear Zero is capable of achieving this driving range due to its sleek aerodynamic bodywork – which the car-maker claims is more efficient than any other production car – and its 1575kg kerb weight, about 260kg more than initial projections.
According to Lightyear, the Zero is built for efficiency – rather than acceleration and outright speed – with its four electric motors (one for each wheel) producing a combined 101kW and 1200Nm.
Production of the Lightyear Zero is capped at 946 examples, all of which are due to be built by Valmet Automotive in Finland.
The solar car will be exclusively sold in Europe, although Lightyear has previously announced plans to launch a more affordable solar-powered electric car.
Named the Lightyear Two, the €30,000 ($AU46,500) solar car is scheduled to go on sale in Europe from 2024 or 2025.
The Lightyear Zero will not be the only solar electric car to be produced in Finland, after German start-up Sono Motors revealed the Sion in July this year.
Sono plans to launch the Sion in Europe next year, with the Sion solar car going on sale from €29,900 ($AU46,350).
More than 1900 European customers have placed a €2225 ($AU3440) deposit on the Sono Sion, which can reportedly drive for up to 305km on a single charge, with the solar panels providing as much as 245km of additional driving range per week.