Bleskensgraaf, 7 September 2017. Lightyear recently revealed its plans for the very first solar car for consumers: the Lightyear One. The first models will sell for €119,000 excl VAT and can now be reserved at lightyear.one. The car is being developed by former students of the Eindhoven University of Technology and is currently still a concept. In order to prove that the solar panels meant for the car are actually realisable, Lightyear turned to Eurolab, member of Eurogroup.
“Two times we have won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia,” says Arjo van der Ham, co-founder and co-developer at Lightyear. “It proves that we have mastered the technology. Now it is time for the next step.”
The design of the car, which was done by a renowned Italian design agency, was revealed on 29 June.
Arjo van der Ham explains that the team of Lighyear was searching for an alternative to the rows of solar cells fixed on the roof of the Stella Lux, a solar-powered family car that was previously built by the same team. Van der Ham: “Our in-house designer was wondering whether we could give the panels of the Lightyear One an interesting twist as to create a unique look. This is how the idea emerged to rotate the cells of the panel by 45 degrees and have them put in a slightly staggered array.”
It is a completely new concept that Lightyear has registered at the EU Intellectual Property Office. However, the team wished to see the panel for themselves and wanted to show investors that the idea can actually be manufactured. Van der Ham: “There are not many companies in the Netherlands that work with back-side contact technology. We knew that this specific technology was the only option of integrating the panels into the design of the Lightyear One in an aesthetic manner.”
“Our know-how and our machines’ flexibility enabled us to quickly accommodate Lightyear,” responds Bart de Gier, project manager at Eurolab. “When you rotate the cells of a panel by 45 degrees, you are left with rectangles on the sides that need to be filled up with half cells. That is why the first step was to carefully cut the cells in half. After that, in half a day we managed to set the machine in such a way that the vision was able to recognize the cells and rotate them by 45 degrees.”
“At Eurolab, we have a lot of experience with special projects,” continues De Gier. “The SunPower cell that Lightyear had in mind, for example, was somewhat smaller than the cells we normally use at Eurotron. The backside was also slightly different. Yet once again Eurotron’s machines proved to offer such flexibility that they can work with almost any kind of cell or desired pattern.”
Notes to the editor
For more information about this press release, please contact Eurolab.
Lightyear is a spin-off of the Solar Team Eindhoven, was founded in 2016 by five former members of the Solar Team Eindhoven. The aim is to have driven a lightyear of sustainable kilometres on solar power before the year 2035. For more information about the team, the car, and the mission, please visit lightyear.one.