The Lightyear One is claimed to be the world’s first long-range solar electric vehicle. And by being three times more energy efficient than other electric vehicle alternatives currently on the market—yes, Tesla, we’re looking at you—it’s aiming to “leapfrog the grid” and shift the focus away from just faster charging.
Gaining a significant amount of energy from its large solar roof will help with some of those gains, by reducing charging needs. But there are other very important aspects—like tires.
Bridgestone has partnered with the Netherlands-based startup Lightyear to provide specially developed tires for the upcoming Lightyear One solar car, the two companies announced earlier this week.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4
The tires for the One—from the same Turanza Eco line being used by the Volkswagen ID.4—will use Bridgestone’s Enliten technology for “super low rolling resistance” along with less raw material, helping to boost efficiency and reduce the environmental footprint of the vehicle. The companies noted the role of an innovative tread design, high inflation pressure, and larger diameter and a slim design.
Even compared to existing Bridgestone tires made for EVs, the tires for the Lightyear One save roughly 200 pounds of weight.
Lightyear claims a range of 725 km (about 450 miles) with a 60-kwh battery pack, made possible through reductions in weight and rolling resistance versus other production cars, and “the best aerodynamic coefficient of any production car to date”—less than 0.20, it’s teased.
The company is itself the evolution of a solar-car team, based at Eindhoven Technical University, and Bridgestone has had a relationship with the people behind Lightyear for the past eight years.
That team won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Cruiser Cup four consecutive times, in 2016-2019.
“Lightyear have impressed with their approach to sustainable mobility ever since we saw the team take on the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, and so we’re excited to play a part in the Lightyear One project,” said Emilio Tiberio, the COO and CTO of Bridgestone for Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa.
The Bridgestone executive noted that partnerships such as this are an important part to reaching the company’s goal of a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 and the usa of 100% sustainable materials by 2050.
Lightyear says that the One will hit the test tracks in the second quarter of 2021—that’s right about now—and be “commercially available” by the end of 2021. The target price has been about $135,000. We’ve reached out to the company to see what that timing means for deliveries.