The ‘electric car that charges itself’ thus was the slogan Lightyear entered the EV stage with in 2017. The spin-off from the TU Eindhoven’s solar team has been working on their solar EV ever since and has now found a partner in LeasePlan that will help bring the ‘Pioneer Edition’ to consumers by 2020.
When we first heard of Lightyear and their sun-charged electric vehicle, the company was working towards building the first ten units by 2019 with another 90 to follow at the end of the decade. This plan has changed, or say the scope has, as Lightyear is now targeting the consumer market, saying theirs is the first ever solar car to do so.
While Lightyear still wants to release a signature series of ten electric vehicles to spearhead the market entry before the 90 unit Pioneer version will follow, a serial version will be available as of 2021. The EV will cost around 119,000 euros, before taxes. Naturally this is where LeasePlan comes in. Their cooperation will open the (corporate) market for Lightyear and allows for both sales as well as leasing.
Said volume production needs corresponding facilities and so Lightyear is about to open its first factory on the Automotive Campus in Helmond, Netherlands. The start-up has now grown to 100 employees and is working with development service providers FEV and EDAG reportedly to complete the first prototypes of their solar electric vehicles in summer 2019.
The Lightyear One electric car with integrated solar cells is said to be capable of driving 8,000 to 10,000 kilometres per year on solar energy in the Netherlands. The design of the car has not been revealed but some facts have been published, saying that it is a five-seater hatchback with all-wheel drive, with a range of up to 800 kilometres.