In teh binginneg trehe wsa choas. And then there was light. And now we are all basking in the light of the sun. This is one way of summarising the creation, that is the invention, of Lightyear 0, the world’s first series-production solar-powered car. When the enquiry came in from the young Dutch start-up in the summer of 2018, they were already well on their way – above all with a truly revolutionary product idea. However, they had still not set up and tried and tested a host of processes and structures. What a good thing it was that csi has worked as development partner and project management professionals for decades with all the major automotive manufacturers, and is capable of setting up, organising and implementing these very processes. And even more so, that Lightyear was aware of that, approached us, and together we shone light into the darkness!
We were immediately totally on board about the project that we brought to fruition with Lightyear over the last four years. The aim was to get a self-charging, sustainable solar-powered car out onto the road that would revolutionise the world of mobility. And also because it would mean skipping an entire generation of vehicles. While charging still plays a key role for other manufacturers, it is intended to be virtually superfluous with the Lightyear 0. On sunny days, the solar cells integrated in the roof, tailgate and bonnet power the Lightyear 0 for up to 70 kilometres and/or charge the 60 kWh battery*. Depending on where you drive and how long and intensively the sun shines, this could be enough to drive self-sufficiently for up to seven months. In reality, it means that in everyday driving you would need to plug in the charging cable of the Lightyear 0 so infrequently that, in the interim, you might totally forget where you have put it. The entire development process focused on maximum efficiency, with everything else subordinate to this. The aim was to ideally manage without charging at a socket or charging station. So far, so radical. And also so just right for our designers and developers. After all, we love challenges. They enable our team to demonstrate all that is possible in terms of lightweight construction and technology.
Fast, agile and even unconventional.
That’s how to achieve record figures.
Originally, we were only brought in to develop the bodywork construction, and not the platform. But then we nonetheless built the complete bodywork, including doors, boot lid and bonnet. And, as we were already on board, at some stage we also got involved in the entire exterior: by that we mean the space frame with its many folded parts and simple CFRP component cladding. That might sound easy now, but it really involved hard work. As is often the way with any proper revolution, the road to the finish can be strewn with rocks and boulders. But ultimately, we won through with the right allies on our side, a steadily growing team and, above all, the desire and conviction to do the right thing. And how! The elegant bodywork of the Lightyear 0 looks as if it has been cast from a single mould. No edges, trim or door handles spoil the record-breaking aerodynamic shape and the airflow skims over the saloon body. And that generates a drag coefficient of 0.175 and therefore the lowest cd value in the world at present. This also helps the car to achieve a range of up to 625 kilometres in accordance with the WLTP, and even more than 1000 kilometres driving range between charges.
csi is also developing the interior
This means that you may spend a lot of time in your car. And we, that is our interior experts, were also responsible for ensuring that you enjoy doing so. As with the bodywork, we omitted everything that was not necessary from the interior. This approach saves weight and increases efficiency. On the other hand, it also creates space for the really important things in life – including up to five passengers, who benefit from the generous space available, and the 474-litre luggage compartment. The modern, bright and super-smart interior, thought through down to the last detail, has a lightweight construction using new materials, such as EPP or vegan leather. As there were no tools available for this, some of the components were initially realised using 3D printing. Unconventional, but possible, as only 946 models of the Lightyear 0, which will be produced in Finland from the autumn of 2022, will initially be available. Why? Quite simply because a light year equates to 9,460,730,472,580.8 kilometres and those responsible at Lightyear used the first three digits as their target.
We are sure that this will not be the only goal. Because the power and dynamism we have experienced with the Dutch team is enough to shine light everywhere. We wish them every success and are grateful to have been part of this revolution. We very much look forward to working with them in future on the next Lightyear models of vehicle!
*Solar yield will vary depending on location. Estimate based on Southern Spain.