We’ve been excited about the Lightyear One, now called Lightyear 0, for many years, ever since it was first announced in 2019. The prospect of having a massive solar array that takes up every single upward-facing square inch of body in order to provide meaningful free additional range, essentially requiring you to charge less (or even never at all in theory), really had us intrigued and we wanted it to materialize.
Well, now it actually has and it’s set to go into production later this year and it doesn’t seem to have changed much from the first prototypes they showed. The Fully Charged Show was invited to the official launch event held in sunny Spain and had the chance to get behind the wheel. So has this ambitious startup delivered on its promises and does the Lightyear 0 justify its hefty price tag starting at €149,000?
According to this video, the answer would be an emphatic yes. The vehicle is very impressive technically, and there’s nothing else like it available from any automaker. Maybe the Mercedes-Benz EQXX is somewhat similar, but even that won’t put as much emphasis on capturing the Sun’s energy as this Lightyear.
Gallery: 2023 Lightyear 0 production model
What really impressed reviewer Jack Scarlett was that even though it is an expensive car that will be out of the reach of most people, Lightyear held up its promise of delivering a real EV that you can buy, one you will have to charge nowhere near as frequently as you do a current EV, especially if you live somewhere with a climate similar to Spain’s.
However, you don’t have to live in Spain, California... or the scorching Sahara Desert to take advantage of free energy and charging, because Lightyear assures everyone that the Zero will still charge itself with solar even in more temperamental climates. The facts and figures are all very impressive, but what nobody has really been able to tell us until today is what the vehicle is actually like to drive.
The Lightyear is not a sporty vehicle, as its main focus is to drive for as long as possible using as few electrons as possible, and on that front it certainly delivers - it really wants you to drive it efficiently all the time. One cool feature is that you can actually see how much power each individual solar panel is producing while on the move, and you can even tell which direction the Sun is shining from based purely on that graphic.