Dutch car maker, Lightyear, has begun taking orders for its new solar electric passenger car

Why go solar? It’s free to drive!

In November this year, a lucky few (rather wealthy) car lovers will take delivery of the first production-ready solar car, and part of its origin story is Australian.

Nine years ago, a team of Dutch university students raced Stella, their solar car, from Darwin to Adelaide. It was the first such race for the team from Eindhoven University of Technology, but not the first solar challenge in Australia.

The World Solar Challenge has been an Australian Outback fixture since 1987. Right from the outset the entrants were sleek and futuristic prototypes raced by high school, university and corporate teams.

In 2013, the Eindhoven students won in the cruiser class with their family-style passenger car. The team repeated the win in 2015 with their next iteration, Stella Lux.

A year later in 2016, team members Lex Hoefsloot and Martijn Lammers, along with three others, started a solar car company.

Lightyear now employs 130 people and has launched the limited edition Lightyear 0 solar car. While the price is high at €250,000, you can drive for weeks or months without recharging.

Hoefsloot, Lightyear’s CEO, sees solar cars solving the charging access problem and doing a better job of it than the alternative of adding batteries, which have negative implications for a car’s weight and carbon footprint.


Listen to the epidode ⬆️

Charging access is a major consumer worry, seen as a problem by almost half of American consumers. And if a recent Electric Vehicle Council survey in Australia is correct, concerns are even higher here, with 85% of respondents discouraged by the accessibility of EV charging infrastructure.

There is no nationwide, mandated end point for sales of new internal combustion engine cars in Australia but in July this year the Australian Capital Territory introduced a ban from 2035. The lag on introducing a market constraint means there has been little urgency about investing in EV infrastructure.

Most Australian apartment dwellers have no access to home-based charging, and those in regional and rural areas have limited access to public charging infrastructure.

The rest of the world has begun to introduce end dates for internal combustion engine cars, effectively forcing consumers and manufacturers to invest in electric vehicles and EV infrastructure.

Bans on the Sale of New Internal Combusion Engine Cars


Norway, Singapore (diesel-powered cars)


European Union, United Kingdom, Iceland, Germany, India, Israel, Ireland, Singapore, Sweden, Netherlands (passenger cars), Canada (light-duty cars)

2030 – 2035

Denmark (excl. hybrids), Hong Kong


Chile, China, Thailand, South Korea, USA (private vehicles)

BloombergNEF, which offers datasets and models on the transition to a low-carbon economy, suggests net-zero road transport by 2050 is still possible but “…the last ICE vehicle of any segment needs to be sold by 2038”.

Lightyear’s solar electric car adds some variety to the EV mix. It may be particularly useful for sparsely populated, large countries such as Australia. 

While the price of Lightyear 0 is out of reach for most consumers, the company expects to produce a more moderately priced vehicle, the Lightyear 2, in 2024 or 2025.

Tor Roxburgh

Is keen on philosophy and architecture and community activism and feminism and… generally likes thinking about things and doing things.