Lightyear announces its second solar-powered EV, below $40,000

If you live in Seattle, the prospect of a solar-powered electric car may not be that exciting, but enough people in sunnier places want to try the futuristic vehicle that automaker Lightyear has announced its second model. The Lightyear 2 is expected to enter production at the end of 2025 and go on sale with a starting price below $40,000.

According to the company, the Lightyear 2 will halve the lifetime vehicle CO2 emissions compared to a traditional EV. The vehicle also promises 500 miles of range between charges, and the company says it has received 21,000 preorders from car-leasing and ride-sharing companies. Though the amount of solar-powered range was not shared specifically, the car will add several miles each day from its solar panels, the amount determined by the level of available sunlight.

Lightyear shared few other details, other than that the car will offer an impressive 0.175 drag coefficient, which will make it one of the slipperier cars around. The company did say its 500-mile estimate is based on how much sun would contribute to range during 15,000 miles of driving per year in Chicago.

The crossover-like 2 follows the insanely futuristic-looking Lightyear 0. That car features a range of 388 miles, and the company says its solar panels can add more than 6,800 miles per year. It also costs more than $263,000, so it’s far from becoming a mainstream hit.

Lightyear announced that hopeful buyers could enter their information to get on the waitlist for the car, but a spokesperson told Autoblog that the waitlist is more of an email list to distribute information. Signing up gives priority when preorders and reservations do open, though, so it's probably best to sign up if you're at all interested.

If you haven’t been paying close attention, it might seem like solar-powered EVs are coming out of nowhere, but there are at least a couple of other companies in the mix. The Sono Sion is a $25,000 solar EV that should begin production in Europe later this year. It offers a range of 190 miles and provides 5,700 miles of solar charging per year, or around 15 miles per day.

Aptera took a completely different approach than Lightyear and Sono, building a three-wheeled solar EV that looks like an airplane missing its wings. The funky car features up to a 1,000-mile range in the top model and can add up to 30 miles of range in a sunny location.

Solar-powered EVs, like solar-powered homes, are somewhat at the mercy of the weather. The bulk of their range is gained like any other EV, through plugging in, but solar charging contributes. Most of the range numbers seen here are taken in sunny locations, such as Aptera’s, which quotes Southern California as the region. Those of us living in less fantastic climates will see less of an impact from the solar panels, but any ability to charge for free should be welcomed.

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