Dutch solar electric vehicle pioneer Lightyear has announced that contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive will build the Lightyear One EV.

After a thorough and extensive selection process that took over a year, Lightyear says it has selected the Finnish company as a production partner. One of the main reasons for this decision is that Valmet Automotive is an EV pioneer, having been involved in the development and production of electric cars for more than ten years.

Valmet has built the Think electric city car (2009-2010) and the Fisker Karma (2011-2012), so it’s experienced in guiding startup and scaleup companies to production. Furthermore, it has its own battery production line and has recently invested heavily in additional engineering and testing capabilities for EV powertrain developments.

Gallery: Lightyear One prototype

In addition to its EV manufacturing know-how, the Finnish firm has more than 50 years of experience with large car brands, having built more than 1.7 million vehicles for Mercedes-Benz, Saab, and Porsche.

“Valmet Automotive is a great partner, has a well-established track record and over a decade of experience in EV production. It’s also a good cultural fit with our company. We are proud that we will soon realize the actual production of Lightyear One with Valmet Automotive.”

Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear

The prototype Lightyear One was first announced two years ago with ambitious targets in terms of range. At the time, the Dutch startup said the solar electric vehicle would cover 725 km (451 miles) under the WLTP test cycle. Recently, a Lightyear One prototype got very close to said range estimate by covering 710 km (441 miles) on one charge using 60 kWh.

The vehicle's solar panels covering a total area of 5 square meters (53.8 sq ft) contributed 3.45 kWh to that. It's worth noting that the panels can recharge the battery enough in one hour to unlock 12 km (7.5 miles) of additional range. One hour of conventional charging adds 35 km/22 miles (3.7 kW at 230V), 209 km/130 miles (22 kW public), or 570 km/354 miles (60 kW fast charging). 

Despite packing four electric motors that offer all-wheel drive with advanced torque vectoring, acceleration is not the One’s main focus—it goes from zero to 100 km/h in less than 10 seconds. 

The Lightyear One will go into production in the summer 2022 as an exclusive first series, but the first prototypes will be built in Finland in January 2022.


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