The sleek Lightyear One solar car will be built by a company based in Finland, ironically a country with lower solar power potential than most, Dutch solar start-up Lightyear announced on Monday (Europe time).
The announcement comes just weeks after Lightyear reported that its ground-breaking solar car completed a 710km drive on a fully charged 60kWh battery driving at 85km/hr, a milestone the company claims is a first on a battery of that size.
Its reported energy consumption of 137Wh/km was boosted by the vehicle’s integrated solar panels which can add up to 70km driving range per day, depending of course where the car is driven and the cloud conditions at the time.
Now, Lightyear is gearing up for production in mid-2022, starting with a limited number of first edition vehicles to be followed by mass production in 2024.
Lightyear has inked a letter of intent with Valmet Automotive, which has been involved in car manufacturing for five decades, and ten years working in the development and production of electric cars.
The latest planned collaboration with Lightyear will see it produce the first Lightyear near-series prototypes in Finland from January, 2022.
“Two years ago, we announced our prototype Lightyear One. We are really excited to have found a production partner with whom we will manufacture this exclusive model”, said CEO and co-founder of Lightyear Lex Hoefsloot in a statement.
“Valmet Automotive is a great partner, has a well-established track record and over a decade of experience in EV production. It’s also a good cultural fit with our company. We are proud that we will soon realize the actual production of Lightyear One with Valmet Automotive.”
“Our experience as a car manufacturer, as well as our focus on electric mobility and battery systems make us predestined for processes in which mobility must be redefined. We are ready to enter new areas also in manufacturing cars and are therefore pleased that Lightyear has selected us as their production partner”, says Olaf Bongwald, CEO of Valmet Automotive.
Since launching in 2016, the company has gained considerable funding support from various quarters in including the European Innovation Council to the tune of 2.5 million euros ($A4 million), Sioux Technologies and BOM Brabant Ventures with an undisclosed amount, and $US48 million ($A65 million) led by Swiss investment vehicle Zero Point Holding B.V. In May it added another investor to its belt, as well as a partnership, with Dutch multinational SHV.
Lightyear has also inked a partnership with tyre mainstay Bridgestone (which also backs the World Solar Challenge that races in Australia every two years) to use tyres to further increase its energy effiency.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.