As we've seen with the Sion family car, adding solar panels to the outside of an electric road car won't provide enough charge to fill up the batteries, at best you're looking at a modest range extension. Yet Lightyear is claiming that the PV cells on its upcoming One EV could generate enough energy to drive the car for up to 20,000 km (almost 12,500 mi) per year.
"On one hand, that will lead to an exceptional range of 725 km (WLTP) on a relatively small battery," said the company's CEO, Lex Hoefsloot. "On the other hand, it can charge directly from the Sun because its energy consumption is much lower, generating up to 20,000 km worth of energy per year. Moreover, all of the charging options out there become easier to use because you get a lot more range for the same amount of energy charged. So effectively, you charge a lot faster from any power outlet. You can charge up to 400 km per night from ordinary 230 V sockets. That's great for road trips because you don't need charging infrastructure."
It might be tempting to just dismiss such claims as flights of fancy, but the Lightyear team has energy efficiency form, being made up of members of Solar Team Eindhoven – winners of the Bridgestone World Solar challenge in 2013, 2015 and 2017. "With Lightyear One, we want to show that our technology enabled us to build one of the most sustainable cars on the market," revealed Hoefsloot.