Lowie Vermeersch #2 - The Lightyear One Solar Car
Other parts of this interview:
- Part 1 - Ferrari 458 to Lightyear One: https://youtu.be/o4Yv5hynV1Q
- Part 3 - Autonomous Vehicle Design: https://youtu.be/xw-B_yTU4mY
- Part 4 - The Dallara Stradale: https://youtu.be/c7NyvCluYVc
Lowie Vermeersch is a famous Belgian Car Designer.
In this second part of the interview, we cover the Lightyear One: the hyper-innovative solar-powered electric car.
Just imagine how difficult it must have been to go from the proportions of a solar-powered prototype racer, all the way to an aesthetically pleasing & technically impressive production car. Here's how they were involved from the first sketches to the final production car.
White sheet of paper
They started with some of the work & research that the team of Lightyear had done. They have a lot of expertise in solar power systems & efficient drive trains. When they started developing the packaging, the proportions, the length/width/height, aerodynamics were really on the plate. An additional requirement was 5m² of solar cell surface. And of course good ergonomics & aesthetics.
Solar race cars typically have a teardrop, monovolume shape. That didn't work for the production, because the visibility lines dictate a huge windshield. This resulted in 3 disadvantages:
- Glass is very heavy
- Less room for solar cells
- Greenhouse effect - the inside of the car heats up. Cooling would require extra energy
Camera's instead of mirrors
The Lightyear One solar-powered car has been fitted with camera's instead of mirrors to further reduce aerodynamic drag. In this case, the camera supports actually improve the aerodynamics.
Covered rear wheel
This was a no-compromise car and covering the rear wheel again helped to reduce the drag. The black stripe around it avoids the visual impression that the car is dragging itself. Together with the strong shoulder, you have an aesthetically pleasing result without compromising aerodynamics.
Wind tunnel testing
The results were record breaking: a drag coefficient Cd of less than 0.20 is the best drag coefficient for a car in this class.
The AirShaper videos cover the basics of aerodynamics (aerodynamic drag, drag & lift coefficients, boundary layer theory, flow separation, reynolds number...), simulation aspects (computational fluid dynamics, CFD meshing, ...) and aerodynamic testing (wind tunnel testing, flow visualization, ...).
We then use those basics to explain the aerodynamics of (race) cars (aerodynamic efficiency of electric vehicles, aerodynamic drag, downforce, aero maps, formula one aerodynamics, ...), drones and airplanes (propellers, airfoils, electric aviation, eVTOLS, ...), motorcycles (wind buffeting, motogp aerodynamics, ...) and more!
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