The Lightyear One solar car will go on the test track in the second quarter of 2021, and will be rolling on bespoke Bridgestone Turanza Eco tires designed to increase its efficiency.
Under a partnership inked between tyre major Bridgestone and Lightyear, a Dutch innovation leader in solar-powered mobility, the tyre manufacturer has developed tyres specifically for the Lightyear One, the world’s first solar-powered, long-range electric car, which is due to hit the market at the end of 2021.
The foundation stone for the new partnership was laid during the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a 3,000 km race through the Australian outback that pushes the boundaries of technological innovation and solar-powered mobility.
The Lightyear One is charged directly from the sun via a large solar roof, which minimizes CO2 emissions and the user’s charging requirements – for maximum efficiency.
The custom Turanza Eco tires made by Bridgestone with environmentally friendly lightweight tire technology Enliten enables extremely low rolling resistance and at the same time uses fewer raw materials, contributing significantly to the efficiency of the vehicle so that the life of the battery is preserved longer, the range of the vehicle is maximized and the environmental impact is reduced.
The Lightyear One has been several years in the making. In 2019, it set what it said was a record for aerodynamic efficiency, scoring a drag coefficient of 0.20.
However, that record has since been met head-to-head by Mercedes Benz which says its EQS premium electric sedan is the first production vehicle to achieve the score.
But the Lightyear One can throw a few uppercuts at the EQS, also. While the EQS promises 770km (WLTP) – which will undoubtedly be less in real-world conditions – the Lightyear One promises a range of 725 km while being up to three times more energy-efficient than other models currently on the market.
Bridgestone says the custom Turanza Eco tyres reduce weight by using fewer raw materials during the entire manufacturing process. At the same time, the rolling resistance is reduced by an innovative profile, a larger diameter, high air pressure and a slim design.
It designed the Turanza Eco to increase the range compared to alternative EV-specific tyres, by improving silica distribution through the use of a new mixing technology so that the total weight of each set of tyres could be reduced by 3.6 kg (approx. 10 per cent) without compromising on mileage and grip. Due to the very low rolling resistance, the Lightyear One can also then benefit from a lighter battery.
While its sleek, wind-blown shape is credited with much of its aerodynamic credentials, the custom tyres should also help to improve its drag coefficient score and win another round against the EQS.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.