It's being used as a research vehicle for a new tech company.
The innovative Dutch startup Lightyear is on a mission to produce a solar-powered vehicle called the Lightyear One, which is expected to have a range of around 450 miles, although at a price in excess of $150,000. As part of its journey to readying such a vehicle, Lightyear has now fitted solar roof panels to another vehicle that doesn't draw its energy from a conventional combustion engine: the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 is one of two new research vehicles employed by Lightyear to test its technology. It represents another big step forward for the tech company.
Of course, solar roof panels have been seen before, but not utilized on a vehicle to the extent that Lightyear is planning for. For instance, the available solar roof panels on the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid can only add around two miles of range per day.
The other vehicle is a Volkswagen Crafter LCV, referred to simply as number 005, while the Model 3 is number 006. Both vehicles are in the process of being driven in the city of Helmond, The Netherlands, where their integrated solar cells will measure solar yield and provide valuable data on aspects such as waterproof effectiveness, vibration impacts, and shock absorption. Of course, the new power source needs to not just be environmentally-friendly but also last the life of the vehicle when it eventually comes to market.
Lightyear says that its solar technology not only maximizes solar cell coverage but is also aesthetically integrated. This is important considering that alternatively-powered cars are now as much fashion statements as they are practical and high-performing vehicles. Bolstering Lightyear's rate of development are several key collaborations, recently with multinational DSM, whereby the two companies will create a strong business case for the solar vehicle market. Research vehicle number 007 will also showcase innovations like in-wheel motors. It's exciting stuff and it'll be fascinating to experience the Lightyear One when it arrives.