Lightyear, a company founded by alumni of Solar Team Eindhoven, introduced the first long-range solar car today. The prototype was presented to a select audience of investors, customers, partners and press at the break of dawn in the TheaterHangaar in Katwijk, the Netherlands. The first 100 cars have already been reserved via the Lightyear website, with an expected delivery in 2021.
The introduction of this prototype represents, in the words of Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear, ‘a new era of driving and a giant leap towards making clean mobility available to everyone’. During the presentation, Hoefsloot emphasized the importance of the moment. “Climate change is one of the biggest problems that we have faced in our history. As engineers, we believed we could do something. Lightyear One represents a huge opportunity to change mobility for the better.”
Lightyear One has been engineered starting from an untraditional perspective, following not convention but only the laws of physics, to purposefully design a car that ‘gets the most out of every ray of sunshine’. Hoefsloot: “The main goal of the car is to fill in where other electric cars fall short. Research has shown that range and the lack of charging options are still the top concerns that people have when considering electric cars. We are solving these issues with what we call ‘ultra-efficiency’. On one hand, that will lead to an exceptional range of 725 km (WLTP) on a relatively small battery. On the other hand, it can charge directly from the sun because its energy consumption is much lower, generating up to 20,000 km worth of energy per year. Moreover, you can charge up to 400 km per night from ordinary 230 V sockets. That’s great for road trips because you don’t need charging infrastructure.”
Light, safe, strong and efficient
Lightyear One is constructed from high-tech materials to have the lowest weight possible while maintaining stringent passenger safety. Moreover, it is propelled by four independently driven wheels, so no energy is lost in transit from the engine to the wheel. The roof and hood are comprised of five square meters of integrated solar cells in safety glass so strong that a fully-grown adult can walk on them without causing dents. In addition to solar power, Lightyear One can be charged at a (fast) charging station or even at a regular outlet.
Via the Lightyear website, buyers can now reserve one of the 500 Lightyear Ones for a reservation fee of €119,000. “Since new technology has a high unit cost, we have to start in an exclusive market”, says Hoefsloot. Lightyear is expecting to ramp up production of the Lightyear One in 2021, so that the next models will have a significantly lower purchase price. Future models will be provided to autonomous and shared car fleets, so that the purchase price can be divided amongst a large group of users.
Founded in 2016 by alumni of Solar Team Eindhoven, Lightyear has now more than 100 employees, including former employees of Tesla and Ferrari. Lightyear’s mission is to make clean mobility available to everyone, everywhere. Lightyear develops electric cars with energy-efficient design and integrated solar cells. Drivers could go up to 20,000 kilometers a year on the sun, depending on the climate. Since the launch, Lightyear has raised over 20 million euros from reservations, investments and grants. Hoefsloot: “This allowed us to develop a working prototype in just two years. We have already sold over a hundred vehicles. With Lightyear One, we want to show that our technology enabled us to build one of the most sustainable cars on the market that also offers great convenience.”