Electric vehicles are the future and ones that make their own electricity are the end game for these. Consequently, solar car racing has taken the place of Formula One in proving leading edge technologies and spinning them off into regular vehicle companies because they are hurrying to be electric. Formula One now becomes merely nostalgia like a designer watch you have to wind up.
Solar Team Eindhoven is a group of engineering students from the Technical University of Eindhoven (Netherlands), has been winning in the World Solar Challenge with their Stella and Stella Lux energy positive solar cars - meaning that they can produce more energy than they consume. Their Martijn Lammers, in charge of hardware interaction design, will talk at the world's first conference on "Energy Independent Electric Vehicles" at the Technical University of Delft September 27-28.
Some of these students have now launched a new startup to make a commercial street-legal version of the racing car. To achieve positive energy output, Solar Team Eindhoven designed the Stella Lux to be extremely aerodynamic and used lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. However, it was built for a student competition and making a street-legal vehicle that can be sold to the public is more onerous. Nevertheless, Lightyear, a startup created by five Solar Team Eindhoven alumni, thinks it is getting there. They claim that they created "the electric car that charges itself".
"The Lightyear One charges itself with clean solar power. In sunny conditions, it can drive for months without charging, a truly unique capability. The battery stores energy to ensure you can drive at night. It offers great peace of mind."
They promise that it will be able to generate enough energy to travel 10,000 to 20,000 km per year (about 6,200 to 12,400 miles) depending on the climate. Even though the vehicle design is currently secret, they are already taking reservations with a refundable deposit of €19.000 (about $22,000) for an expected final price of €119.000 (about $136,000). They are planning to start with a first small production run of 10 "Signature" cars in 2019 and then produce 100 more in 2020.
They have competition from Sion Motors a German startup pitching for its street legal solar car to launch in 2019 and Hanergy solar cars in 2020. All these will be covered at the event as well as another start-up Scoozy from alumni of the Delft solar racing team. This is a mobility vehicle for the disabled though it is not yet energy independent. Nevertheless, solar vehicles for the disabled do exist so it is only a matter of time.
The IDTechEx conference "Energy Independent Electric Vehicles" September 26-27 has a table top exhibition and, on the 25 and 28, six 2.5 hour optional Masterclasses on the EIVs and their rapidly evolving key components even including energy positive tethered drones potentially powering ships with various forms of high power solar as well.
Top image source: Solar Team Eindhoven