Lightyear One wants to take efficiency to the max

  • The Lightyear One prototype sedan averages 141 watt-hours per kilometer at 130 km/h (80.7 mph), or about 4.4 miles/kWh, with a 60 kWh battery on board.
  • The prototype sedan, which will enter production later this year, includes solar panels on the roof and hood, intended to give the electric vehicle a small range.
  • The Dutch start-up is planning a second model around 2024 which could appear in the United States, after the start of production of the Lightyear One in Europe.

    As far as EV batteries go, 60kWh doesn’t seem like a lot these days, unless we’re talking about an electric sedan from Europe. And even then, the range of these models will rarely exceed 160 miles.

    But 60kWh is exactly what Dutch electric vehicle startup Lightyear One had to play with when designing its next solar-assisted battery-electric sedan, which is due to go into production later this year. That’s right: the Lightyear One sedan features something we haven’t really seen too often in mass-produced electric vehicles, namely a solar roof that’s actually intended to provide some range, at least under a sky that actually offers sunshine.

    While the solar roof and hood are certainly standout components, Lightyear’s prototype relies more on aerodynamic efficiency, which the startup demonstrated in a video this week following a series of tests on high-speed tracks.

    During the latest round of testing at Aprilia’s Bridgestone Technology & Solutions Center in Rome, Lightyear’s sedan demonstrated an energy consumption of 141 watt-hours per kilometer, with the test vehicle traveling at 130 km/h ( 80.7mph). This equates to approximately 4.4 miles/kWh. On a full charge, Lightyear’s sedan can travel more than 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) at that speed, which is 1.5 times the distance a directly comparable vehicle with the same battery size can travel, claims the society. (Of course, on paper, 4.4 miles/kWh translates to about 246 miles, but those stats aren’t meant to match exactly).

    “We are gradually increasing the speed capability of the vehicle,” said Megan Parfitt, vehicle testing coordinator. “Eventually it will be able to reach 160 km/h. But we are increasing it in stages to ensure safety and to ensure that we are happy with the performance of the vehicle.

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    “Both tests, in Aldenhoven and Aprilia, produced promising figures. At 85 km/h and in hot weather, the car drove for nearly nine straight hours (710 kilometres) on a single charge. At this relatively low speed, the most efficient electric cars use around 50% more energy,” the company adds.

    To achieve this level of fuel efficiency, the prototype sedan relies on a set of fairly well-honed aero design cues, including a long tail, tapered rear wheel arches, wheel design, minimal side mirrors and other small adjustments to eliminate each increment. advantage. The long sloping roof, of course, has the added benefit of being able to house solar cells, which also cover the surface of the hood.

    While Lightyear One is expected to be the first expensive model with a sticker of around $170,000 when it goes on sale in Europe, the second car planned by the start-up, dubbed Lightyear Two, is expected to be the affordable volume model. Lightyear Two is expected to arrive in 2024 at the earliest, and is expected to compete on price with other electric sedans of its size, and may find its way to North America.

    If the long tail design reminds you of some other EV we’ve seen recently is likely the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX, which demonstrated a range of 620 miles with a lithium-iron-phosphate battery with a capacity of less than 100 kWh.

    “We have every intention of launching the most efficient car on the market. That means building a vehicle that can withstand the trials of a tough and changing world, and that’s no small feat. That requires meticulous testing and ongoing,” the company says. .

    “These results tell us, unequivocally, that we are on track to produce the most efficient car ever. Not just in legislative cycles, but also in real-world conditions.”

    As promising as Lightyear’s approach to aerodynamics may seem, industry watchers know that the pace of battery technology with respect to range may evolve faster than Lightyear’s efforts to put a vehicle on the market. By the time Lightyear Two goes on sale, a competing model’s 60kWh battery size could very well achieve the same 400-kilometre (248.5-mile) range as Lightyear One simply through battery chemistry, design different transmission, materials or recovery. techniques. Transmissions are indeed on their way to more EVs to make them more efficient on the highway.

    So while 1.5 times the range of other cars might seem like a major selling point, Lightyear is limited by other factors related to production capacity and how quickly it can get vehicles on the market. Marlet.

    Lightyear plans to put its first vehicle into production later this year.

    Light year

    Likewise, Mercedes-Benz could build a very aerodynamic mid-size electric sedan with a long tail and tapered wheel arches, while also focusing on lightening the cabin to a large extent. But it chooses not to, because it also has to address other consumer priorities.

    Also, if you look around at EVs that have debuted in the past couple of years, a few want very little to do with aerodynamic efficiency, which would have been a major surprise to EV engineers there. ten years old. In fact, a few of them are absolute reservoirs when it comes to curb weight and have the airfoils of refrigerators, which would have Also surprised EV engineers ten years ago.

    Will more electric vehicles of the future adopt more airfoils to extract more range, or will other concerns dictate exterior design and materials? Let us know in the comments below.

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