Lightyear, a solar car startup from the Netherlands developing long-range vehicles, has announced that it has raised 86 million euros and is poised to begin production of its first vehicle in the coming months. While recent history is replete with examples of solar-powered car prototypes, the burgeoning electric vehicle movement has so far been largely limited to cars that need to be plugged into the grid to recharge or hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) that recharge themselves while driving.
Yet some companies are working to make solar-powered cars a mass-market reality, such as Germany’s Sonos Automotive, which recently revealed the final production design for its first solar-powered electric car, scheduled for launch sometime in 2023. Then there’s Lightyear – a six-year-old startup – which debuted its prototype back in 2019, after raising more than $100 million in funding.
The introduction of solar charging in the electric vehicle space essentially solves two problems – drivers don’t have to worry about where the nearest charging station is, because the car can keep charging itself while parked. In addition, drivers can travel longer distances without plugging in, with Lightyear promising more than 600 miles on a single charge. Of course, much depends on individual driving habits and the time of year – because sunlight is crucial.
On June 9, 2022, Lightyear CEO Lex Hoefsloot presented the company’s first solar-powered car for the first time.
Lightyear plans to start production of its Lightyear 0 (formerly known as the Lightyear One) car this fall at a cost of 250,000 euros for potential buyers. Meanwhile, Lightyear is also already developing a successor, the Lightyear 2, its complete mass-market model weighing in at €30,000, which is expected to enter production in 2025.
Lightyear’s latest cash infusion includes funding from a public consortium, including Invest-NL, the investment company established by the Dutch Ministry of Finance in 2020, and private funds from SHV and Dela, among others.
In a statement, Lightyear CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot said, “In the current market environment, our technology has the potential for incredible positive social impact, so I see an investment of this caliber as a testament to Lightyear’s product vision. (Lightyear) remains on track to deliver the world’s first solar-powered car and work toward a more sustainable future.”