Inside a gleaming new factory that opened this week in the Dutch city of Helmond, engineers are beginning to build the first prototypes of a new electric car that is designed to be able to charge directly from solar cells on the roof. Though the car can also charge with a traditional plug, with solar power built into the car, “you don’t need charging points anymore,” says Lex Hoefsloot, the CEO of Lightyear , the startup building the new car, which it plans to have hit the market in 2020. “That means you get rid of the whole chicken-and-egg problem you have around electric cars: There’s not many electric cars because there’s no infrastructure, and there’s no infrastructure because there’s no electric cars. You can kind of [circumvent] that process by making an electric car that doesn’t rely on infrastructure.” [Image: Lightyear] Hoefsloot first began developing the concept of the car as a student at the Eindhoven University of Technology, where he was part of a team that developed a car that won the World Solar Challenge in 2013 and again in 2015, driving nearly 1,000 miles on a single charge. In 2016, the engineers realized that the basic […]

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