Dutch solar EV startup Lightyear has officially started production of its first vehicle, the Lightyear 0, at manufacturing partner Valmet Automotive's facility in Uusikaupunki, Finland.

That is a remarkable achievement, but it's far from what one would call volume production as the company is producing only one car a week for the time being. It does plan to gradually scale up production in the first quarter of 2023, although it doesn't say how many Lightyear 0 vehicles per week it plans to make by then.

Lightyear takes pride in becoming the first automotive company to manufacture an electric vehicle that generates power directly from sunlight. It has taken the startup six years developing its own technologies to reach this stage and finally enter the market with new technology. 

"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. 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."

Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and Co-Founder of Lightyear

Six years after its founding, Lightyear has over 500 employees and a reliable supply chain consisting of partners such as Valmet Automotive, Bridgestone, and Koenigsegg

Gallery: Lightyear 0 production at Valmet Automotive's plant in Finland

As its name suggests, the Lightyear 0 is thought as only the first step in the company's attempt to transform the mobility sector. The startup plans to launch a much more affordable solar EV with a much smaller battery by 2025. For now, creating an efficient vehicle with a smaller battery capacity of 60 kWh is how Lightyear wants to enable consumers to skip the charging grid and drive more sustainably. 

Like Fisker, Lightyear has chosen to outsource production of its first vehicle to a contract manufacturer, in this case Valmet Automotive. The Finnish company has more than 10 years of experience in EV production and over 50 years of experience with large and well-known car brands.

Previously known as the Lightyear One, the solar electric car has an eye-watering base price of €250,000 ($264,000), and that's before VAT and other market-specific taxes. The vehicle will be available initially in the EU, Switzerland, Norway and the UK; an expansion outside Europe is yet to be announced.

The Lightyear 0 is said to offer a WLTP range of 625 kilometers (388 miles), with the 5 square meters of double-curved solar panels said to provide an additional 70 kilometers (44 miles) of range per day in ideal conditions. 

In cloudy climates, Lightyear reckons the solar panels will produce enough electricity to cover 35 kilometers (22 miles) a day. The Lightyear 0 is a highly efficient car, with an energy use of only 10.5 kWh per 100 kilometers (169 Wh per mile)—thanks in part to its record-breaking coefficient of drag of only 0.175.

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