Owing to EU laws and regulations, the readiness to adopt electric vehicles is slowly growing in Europe. From 2030, there will be no more Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles sold in the Netherlands and the U.K. and from 2035 onwards 27 European countries will no longer sell non-electric vehicles.
Taking a cue from this, Dutch solar-powered car startup Lightyear has raised €81 million in funding to accelerate access to clean mobility and drive towards international expansion beyond Europe. The funding will also ensure production targets of Lightyear 0 and steer development for Lightyear 2. The company aims to bring Lightyear 2 to the world by 2025.
The investment comes from a consortium of public investors, consisting of Invest-NL and regional development agencies for the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg (BOM and LIOF). The funding was also backed by new private funds and follow-up investments from SHV and DELA. They joined an existing group of investors, including Bridgestone, Koenigsegg, Leaseplan, Valmet Automotive and NXP.
The high-volume series will see a leap toward more affordable solar electric mobility, with a starting price of €30,000. According to the company, 10,000 reservations have already been placed from leasing and car-sharing companies LeasePlan and MyWheels, each reserving 5,000 respectively.
Founded in the Netherlands in 2016, Lightyear aims to launch production-ready solar car that will hit the roads later this year. The Lightyear 0 will have curved solar panels in its roof, hood and trunk that top up the electric battery as it drives. The first delivery in Europe could be as early as November.
CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot had earlier said at the reveal of the Lightyear 0 model: “Electric cars are a step in the right direction, but they are dependent on the grid, which is still dependent on mostly fossil fuel energy. Adding a new source, the sun, adds certainty that you will always have that charge and you will have to charge a lot less often.”
The company claims the interior of the vehicle is vegan and eco-friendly, featuring plant-based leather, fabrics made from recycled PET bottles and wooden deco elements from sustainably restructured rattan palm. According to Lightyear, the optimised solar roof and holistic design mean that the car can drive for weeks, even months, without charging. In cloudy climates, based on the average commute of around 35 kilometres per day, the car can drive for up to two months before needing to be charged. In sunnier countries, that could be up to seven months. Plugged into a regular home socket, Lightyear 0 can still charge 32 kilometres of range per hour.
The car will be made in Finland by Valmet Automotive. The company had earlier also said the car will have a maximum speed of just 100 mph, while its 0 to 100 mph time is 10 seconds. The company will launch 946 models, one of them costing around €250,000.
Lex Hoefsloot added: “In the current market environment, our technology has incredible potential for positive societal influence, so I see investments of this calibre as a testament to Lightyear’s product vision. The funding will help us deliver the world’s first solar car and work towards a more sustainable future.”
Rinke Zonneveld, CEO at Invest-NL added: “Lightyear has been making consistent progress since its founding and holds a promising future for the development of an innovative solar eco-system in the Netherlands. Their technology, strategic partnerships and acumen fit perfectly with Invest-NL’s ambition to co-create new tech-driven market and business opportunities, and we look forward to supporting their growth from Dutch scale-up to global OEM.”