Valmet Automotive has started series production of the Lightyear 0 long-distance solar car at its plant in Uusikaupunki, Finland. Initially, however, only one unit per week will be produced. Production is to be gradually ramped up in the first quarter of 2023.
As reported, the first pre-series model was only produced at the end of September. How this vehicle differs from the first series model now in production is not clear from the announcement. In the industry, pre-production vehicles are usually used for extensive product tests and first presentations. However, they are usually still manufactured with a significantly higher proportion of manual labour. With one vehicle per week, the pace of series production of the Lightyear 0 is still manageable.
Regardless of whether a lot of manual labour or robots are used, the first series model is to be delivered to a customer before the end of this year. This would make Lightyear the first automotive company “to produce an electric vehicle that generates electricity directly from sunlight”. Sono Motor’s Sion also relies on solar integration, here series production (also at Valmet) is not scheduled to start until the second half of 2023.
The company unveiled the series design and final specifications in June, when it also changed the name from Lightyear One to Lightyear 0. The WLTP range of the Lightyear 0 is given by the company as 625 kilometres, the consumption is 10.5 kWh/100km. If you add the up to 70 kilometres per day with electricity from the solar cells to the pure battery range, according to Lightyear, the theoretical range of 695 kilometres is already much closer to the development target. Incidentally, the battery pack has a capacity of 60 kWh.
That’s not quite the target figures mentioned in 2019. But at least Lightyear has managed to produce a vehicle ready for delivery only six years after its founding, which is now being built – albeit initially in manageable numbers. And this despite a price tag of 250,000 euros per vehicle.
“We have hit many milestones in recent years, from major funding achievements to great partnerships. However, today is the most significant, and probably the most challenging, milestone we have reached so far,” says Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear. “Starting production of Lightyear 0, the first solar car, brings us a big step closer to our mission of clean mobility for everyone, everywhere. We may be the first to achieve this, but I certainly hope we aren’t the last.”
In addition to the start of production, Lightyear has strengthened its top management – with a former Audi manager. Long-time Audi purchasing executive Bernd Martens has joined Lightyear as CEO, which means he will oversee the company’s operations in the future. Martens announced his new job himself via LinkedIn, and the company has since confirmed the personnel development.
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