Dutch company Lightyear has announced the production of its first vehicles at the Valmet Automotive’s Finland facility this year. Developer of the world’s first solar-electric car, Lightyear plans on producing one car a week and gradually scaling up its production in the first quarter of 2023.
It is the first automotive company to manufacture an electric vehicle that generates power directly from sunlight. After six years of developing its own technologies, the company has surpassed one of the most challenging phases for new automotive companies: entering the market with novel technology.
In early September, the company announced that Lightyear 0 would be the world’s most aerodynamic production car, with a record-breaking drag coefficient of 0.175 (Cd). The lower the drag coefficient, the better the car will efficiently use its energy, giving drivers more range and less reliance on electrical charging.
Starting production of Lightyear 0 brings us a big step closer to our mission of clean mobility for everyone, everywhere.Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and Co-Founder of Lightyear
The figure, which is 12.5% better than the most aerodynamic car currently on sale, was confirmed following a series of comprehensive tests conducted in one of the FKFS wind tunnels in Stuttgart, Germany, under Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) conditions.
Lightyear 0’s energy consumption, and therefore its efficiency, depends on three key elements: aerodynamics, rolling resistance and motors. Aerodynamics is a major energy consumer, with air resistance increasing significantly at higher driving speeds. At highway speeds, aerodynamics account for around 60% of overall energy consumption. Battery range is one of the main points of concern for potential and current electric car drivers and therefore many EV manufacturers are continually optimizing their designs to improve the range.
The vehicle tackles the challenge with a design that minimizes air resistance and therefore achieves a very low drag coefficient, all while keeping lift force and its balance to ensure a smooth ride for drivers. A low drag coefficient means a more economical car that consumes less energy and, as a result, can drive further on one charge.
We may be the first to achieve this but I certainly hope we aren’t the last.Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and Co-Founder of Lightyear
Lightyear 0 is the company’s first step in its attempt to transform the mobility sector: by creating an efficient vehicle with a smaller battery capacity (60kWh), Lightyear wants to enable consumers to skip the charging grid and drive more sustainably. Six years after its founding, the company has progressed into a scale-up with over 500 employees and established a reliable supply chain through reputable partners such as Valmet Automotive, Bridgestone, and Koenigsegg. With that, Lightyear proves that it can translate its aspiration into action.
Lightyear’s production partner, Valmet Automotive, is a benchmark-setting electric vehicle manufacturer with more than ten years of experience in EV production and over 50 years of experience with large and well-known car brands.
The company said they will continue to conduct testing and all the knowledge will also be applied to their next model, Lightyear 2, which is intended for mass production by the end of 2025. Lightyear, which was founded in 2016 by alumni of Solar Team Eindhoven, also confirmed earlier this month receiving an investment of €81 million. The sum is divided between Invest-NL and regional development agencies for the provinces of North Brabant, where the company is located, and Limburg (BOM and LIOF). Additional investments come from new private funds and follow-up investments from SHV and DELA.