Lightyear, a little-known Dutch startup, has announced its plans to be the first automaker in the world to launch a solar car to the market with a leasing option, and it plans to do it within 2 years.
The leasing option is being made possible thanks to a deal the solar car startup has inked with LeasePlan Netherlands, a car-as-a-service company that specialises in contracting out new cars for a period of up to three to four years before releasing them onto the used car market.
With the new agreement set to make available Lightyear’s first production solar car, the Lightyear One Pioneer edition, available for lease once it arrives on the Dutch market in 2020, the self-charging car will become the first such to do in the world.
Lightyear One’s sell is “the electric car that charges itself”, and it promises 800km range and up to 10,000km on solar power alone per year if driven in the Netherlands.
The company, founded by triple World Solar Challenger winners, is keeping the actual design and full specs of the 5-seater car under wraps, but we do know that in addition to solar cells on its roof it also includes a charging connection.
However, the whole point of the car is that – depending on how many kilometres a year are driven – it is possible to drive the car on solar power alone.
Lightyear’s website includes a cool calculator that allows anyone from all over the world to work out just how many charges they might need according to distance travelled (this also suggests they have global aspirations).
For example, if you live in Sydney Australia and travel 10,000km a year you will only need to charge your car from the grid twice a year.
That’s compared to the Tesla P100D which would need 30 charges for the same distance, according to Lightyear.
“As a leasing partner we want to offer our customers the opportunity to make a powerful sustainability statement by driving the world’s first solar car for consumers. This cooperation also contributes to our ambition to completely eliminate emissions from our own fleet in 2021 and our total fleet of 1.8 million cars in 2030.”
The leasing company’s involvement will, he believes, be a major driving factor for Lightyear, which plans to launch its regular edition a year after the Lightyear One Pioneer, in 2021.
“Corporate drivers play an important pioneering role in the introduction of new technologies. We’ve seen that before with the electric car. This partnership with LeasePlan will certainly help us as we move towards the broad launch of the Lightyear One in 2021,” he says.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.