Lightyear, the Dutch startup that surprised in 2019 with the presentation of the Lightyear One, has assembled its solar technology on a Tesla Model 3 and a Volkswagen Crafter van, to be used as vehicles of test and demo. The goal is to test its reliability and safety in real operating conditions, so that it can see the light on the Lightyear One in late 2021 and be available for deployment in other electric cars.

The Dutch company announced in May the launch of a new business line with the development of sunroofs for other manufacturers in collaboration with the chemical company DSM, also Dutch. This association focuses on the integration of its sunroofs on a wide range of electric vehicles of different formats and sizes such as passenger cars, vans trucks and buses. As a result of this agreement, and as the first of its pilot projects, the new sunroof has been integrated into two demo vehicles already circulating in the Dutch municipality of Helmond.

The electric cars chosen for this test are a Tesla Model 3 and a Volkswagen e-Crafter (a commercial van) whose original roof has been replaced by new technology. In the case of Model 3, which is the one that appears in the video that the company has published, called Research Vehicle 006, the project has had the collaboration of the renting company Lease Plan and Mijndomein, which is in charge of hosting and processing the data obtained from the tests.

The integration of the Lightyear and DSM sunroof on the Tesla Model 3 is virtually invisible. Photo: Youtube.

The objective of these two vehicles is to demonstrate the added value They offer the set of photovoltaic cells integrated into your new sunroof and check its reliability in real conditions. While circulating, the integrated sensors and the communication system will measure the solar performance and provide data on the physical impact they imply on the system. vibrations, shocks, weather, rainwater or temperature variations. According to Lightyear, in order for the product to begin to be marketed and to be completely reliable, durable and safe, this type of testing is absolutely essential.

Each of the panels developed is “perfectly integrated into the aesthetics of the vehicle,” says the Dutch company. Maxeos cells supplied by SunPower are integrated into a conductive DSM foil, which is a structural part of the sunroof and is located on the back of the glazed surface. It allows the connections between the solar cells to be located behind, in a way that maximizes the outer surface that works to capture sunlight, helping to minimize electrical losses.

At the end of this year, Lightyear plans to launch the Research Vehicle 007, which will be a validation prototype in which all the developments that Lighyear integrates will already be combined: solar energy, electric wheel motors, high-voltage battery and power electronics. The objective will be to show that this set of technologies adds extra value in terms of efficiency and energy management in relation to conventional electric vehicles.

The Lightyear One presented last year is an electric car that, in addition to a lithium battery that is recharged on the grid, has 5 m2 of photovoltaic panels installed on its body to take advantage of the sun’s energy. The company claims that they can generate 1.25 kW of power and charge the electric car at a speed of 12 kilometers for each hour of exposure. This means that the sunroof should be able to provide enough energy to cover between 70 and 90 percent of the average user’s annual mileage. On a sunny day and in optimal conditions, its cells would generate enough electricity to cover up to 33 kilometers. In ideal conditions, the total autonomy it offers is 725 kilometers. In addition, Lightyear ensures that in emergency situations the car can drive at 25 km / h only with sunlight in search of a charger for the battery. Thanks to the efficiency of your system, with a recharge of just one hour in a domestic 230 V socket, it is possible to travel up to 570 kilometers.