It features custom Bridgestone rubber.
Humans continue to find new ways to harness our planet's natural energy with technology like windmills and solar panels. The automotive industry has slowly adopted these technologies, like the solar panels fitted to the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's roof. Hyundai's small panels amount to around 700 miles of added range during a year of driving, but an independent Dutch automaker called Lightyear is working on a far more advanced version.
The company began testing its solar panels on the roof of a Tesla Model 3 as a test for a bespoke vehicle called the Lightyear One. This new model promises to be the first long-range solar-powered EV with a market launch in Europe planned later this year. For the Lightyear One to achieve its bold range claims, it needs some special tires.
Lightyear just announced a partnership with Bridgestone to supply a new custom-engineered Turanza Eco tire with lightweight ENLITEN and logic technologies. Bridgestone's revolutionary tires use fewer raw materials to reduce weight while simultaneously cutting rolling resistance with advanced tread patterns, larger diameters, high inflation pressures, and a slimmer design. Since the rolling resistance is so low, the Lightyear One can afford to use a smaller, lighter battery. In total, these new tires reduce weight equivalent to around 200 pounds.
The Lightyear One offers a massive 450-mile (725-kilometer) driving range on the WLPT testing cycle, which equates to nearly 400 miles on the EPA scale. More impressively, the Lightyear One is three times more energy-efficient than a conventional EV. And unlike other EVs, the Lightyear can charge automatically using five square meters of solar panels, adding around 43 miles per day. A conventional plug is included for cloudy days and nighttime trips.
Track testing begins in Q2 2021, with commercial availability to customers starting later in the year. Lightyear only plans to build 500 units, the first 100 of which were sold out back in 2019. The car isn't cheap at €149,000 (around $180,000), but it seems like a fair price for this type of groundbreaking technology. For the first time, the Lightyear One will ship wearing the Turanza Eco tires with a new Bridgestone EV marking on the sidewalls. Oh, and the wheels will have an infinity symbol in the middle, perhaps as a nod to Buzz Lightyear's catchphrase "to infinity and beyond."
"We're particularly happy to see this collaboration between Bridgestone and Lightyear, with two companies that share a vision for future sustainable mobility coming together," says Lightyear CEO Lex Hoefsloot. "The world is already experiencing unprecedented change and challenges, and through innovation and cutting-edge technologies, we can work together to grasp the opportunities head-on and create a more sustainable world."