Alternative energy sources for urban transport come no more sustainable than simple sunlight. That's the thinking behind the svelte Lightyear One, billed as the first four-seater solar-powered production car. Orders are being taken now - and this Dutch-based company is expecting the first to be delivered later this year.

The Lightyear One's highly aerodynamic shape - the company says it's class-leading - has solar panels embedded in safety glass to the bonnet and in the sloping fastback-style roof. That's five square metres of solar panels in all, allowing for more than 40 miles worth of recharging every day, according to Lightyear.

Power comes from four electric motors, one embedded in each wheel, allowing for highly efficient - and potentially exhilarating - four wheel drive. The latest specification of battery pack is fitted to the floor. Lightyear says that solar recharging means that many drivers won't have to plug in the Lightyear One to recharge for months at a time, depending of course on the journeys that are made.

Construction is of lightweight carbon fibre and aluminium, to keep down the overall weight of the Lightyear One. Like the aerodynamics, it's all in the name of efficiency, designed to offer maximum mileage on a single full charge, topped up by whatever sunlight you encounter along the way.

The Lightyear One enters a highly competitive premium electric car market. Potential customers are being asked for a deposit of £124,000, with the full price only available on request. Just under a thousand early adopters, Lightyear says, have already signed up. 

This is no cheap option. Among premium manufacturers, Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, to name just three, offer less expensive - plug-in - electric options. None can match the pioneering Lightyear difference of solar power which guarantees clean, free energy. Has the future just arrived? We'd say it might just have done.

Get your fix of all things automotive at The Garage.