Brirdgestone has announced the development of a new tyre that’s been created for the Lightyear One – the first commercially available solar-powered car with a long electric range.
The One, which was first shown in June 2019, is set to arrive with consumers as early as the end of the year, bringing a completely different approach to electric cars to just about every other manufacturer.
Whereas most firms develop EVs on the basis of customers plugging their cars in to rapid chargers or at home, the Lightyear One instead features a huge five-square-metre solar panel in its roof, which is said to allow for more than 5,000 sun-powered miles per year.
With a strong focus on efficiency – Lightyear says its One is three times more efficient than other EVs on the market – the model can travel for 450 miles purely on the power of the sun.
And 17 miles of that comes from the EV’s tyres, which have been specially developed by Bridgestone. Called Turanza Eco tyres, they’ve been developed to offer as low rolling resistance and weight as possible, and across four tyres, they’re 90kg lighter than an alternative Bridgestone EV-specific tyre – achieved through the use of a new silica and being narrow.
They’re also the first tyres from the firm to wear a new ‘EV’ marking, which will be used for future tyres developed for electric cars alongside manufacturers.
Lex Hoefsloot, CEO of Lightyear, said: “We’re particularly happy to see this collaboration between Bridgestone and Lightyear, with two companies that share a vision for future sustainable mobility coming together.
“The world is already experiencing unprecedented change and challenges, and through innovation and cutting-edge technologies we can work together to grasp the opportunities head on and create a more sustainable world.”
Along with being powered by solar, the Lightyear One can be charged just like a normal EV, though the firm said it expects owners to only need to plug their cars into the grid once a month.
In the Netherlands – where Lightyear is based – the average driver does 13,000km (8,078 miles) per year, with the firm saying 8,000-10,000km (4,971-6,214 miles) of that can be driven on solar power.
First deliveries of the One are expected by late 2021. Markets such as The Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland will come first, though Holesfoot said that the UK was ‘part of the plan’, with the potential for models to arrive here in 2022.