Dirty electricity will be a problem of the past for EVs if Lightyear and Koenigsegg get their way.
Electric vehicles are, logically speaking, vastly more efficient than traditional ICE vehicles. But all of that efficiency falls on deaf ears a lot of the time because of one factor: charging. Charging is slow, charging stations are almost always problematic, and if you run out of charge, it's not a quick feat to get back up and running. Many a naysayer has piped up with a phrase like, "EVs still require power, which is generated by coal, thereby making it just as dirty as gasoline," before digging deeper into their narrative with, "the only way to make a truly clean EV is to use solar power."
Well, that's what Dutch company Lightyear wants to do with two solar-powered EVs. We first covered the Lightyear One - not to be confused with the Mercedes-AMG One hypercar - in 2019 when the Dutch startup made the bold claim of a 450-mile range (WLTP) and production starting in 2021. Well, now Lightyear is well on its way to making its vision a reality.
The company has secured a further $81 million worth of capital for its development from a consortium of public investors in the Netherlands. The consortium is headed by Invest-NL, but also includes the North Brabant province and regional development agencies from the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg. It's not all government funding, however, as private firms SHV and DELA have also chipped in.
The funds will be allocated to the production of the Lightyear 0, the production version of the One concept, but also towards a second model called the Lightyear 2, which the automaker describes as a "mass-market follow-up."
The goal is an international expansion beyond Europe, which could be possible through the Lightyear 2. The Lightyear 0 was only launched in June this year with production to commence this fall. The newfound investment will aid that substantially.
While the Lightyear 0 is available to order, the Lightyear 2 is a few years away, and expected to reach production in 2025. But despite this, Lightyear already has 10,000 reservations from two major European leasing and car sharing companies, LeasePlan and MyWheels. The goal is for the Lightyear 2 to be a $30,000 solar-powered EV, and with the right investors, it could become a reality.
One of those investors just happens to be Koenigsegg, with a partnership announced in July of this year. At the time of the announcement, Christian von Koenigsegg spoke of Lightyear's "transformative technologies," claiming that the "partnership with Lightyear will ensure our products remain on the bleeding edge, which is great news for [Koenigsegg] customers." Just imagine a solar-powered Koenigsegg Jesko of the future, topping 300 mph on nothing but the power of the sunrise. Other investors include Bridgestone, which supplies the tires.
As for the immediate future, Lightyear 0 is priority number one. This Mercedes EQXX lookalike (this came first) has 388 miles of electric range (WLTP) and can recoup as much as 43 miles a day from solar power alone. Climate dependent, Lightyear says you can gain as much as 6,800 miles of free travel a year but can also plug in for the sake of convenience.
It's not the most potent EV, managing the 0-60 mph sprint in just 10 seconds and a top speed of 100 mph, but it makes up for this with fast-charging abilities of 323 miles of range per hour.
Constructed from reclaimed carbon fiber, the Lightyear 0 weighs just 3,472 lbs and has a 60 kWh battery. It seats five adults, has a 22.6 cubic foot trunk, and has a 10.1-inch Android Automotive-based infotainment screen. At present, it's available in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, and the UK, but who knows, with Koenigsegg backing and fresh investment, the Lightyear could make its way stateside in the future.