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Lightyear finds a manufacturer to build its solar-powered EV

Dutch startup Lightyear has found a manufacturing partner to build its solar-powered electrical automotive, the Lightyear One. Finnish contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive signed a letter of intent with the startup this week, and the 2 firms plan to begin constructing prototypes collectively in early 2022, with an eye fixed on midyear for the start of manufacturing of practically 1,000 automobiles. A second car meant for mass manufacturing is but to be introduced.

Lightyear was based in 2016 by a group of engineers who had competed collectively within the World Photo voltaic Problem, a race held each few years within the Australian outback that’s meant to advance the thought of solar-powered vehicles. The startup confirmed off the first prototype of the Lightyear One in 2019. It’s a sharp-looking sedan, and Lightyear made some large guarantees on the time, together with 725 kilometers (450 miles) of vary. Lightyear additionally mentioned the automotive can be extraordinarily environment friendly and have the opportunity to generate about 12km (7.5 miles) per hour with the photo voltaic cells embedded within the roof — successfully making it attainable for house owners to go lengthy stretches of time with out plugging it in. All of this can come at a value: the limited-run Lightyear One prices round $165,000.

Lightyear mentioned Monday that it spent greater than a yr attempting to discover the proper manufacturing accomplice earlier than coming to an settlement with Valmet. The Finnish contract manufacturer has been round for the reason that late Sixties and has constructed vehicles for Saab, Mercedes-Benz, and even Porsche. It’s presently co-owned by a giant Finnish non-public fairness group and the federal government of Finland (every with a 39 % stake) and is part-owned by main Chinese language battery firm CATL (which has a 22 % stake).

Utilizing photo voltaic cells to energy an electrical car is a tall job; there’s simply such a nice disparity between the quantity of power that the perfect cells can seize from the solar’s rays and what’s wanted to make a two-ton hunk of metallic transfer at pace. However Lightyear isn’t the one group attempting to make it occur. Aptera — a California startup that crashed within the aftermath of the Nice Recession — was recently resurrected and has been elevating cash whereas constructing prototypes of its personal funky three-wheeled design. German startup Sono Motors can be engaged on a solar-powered electric car.

Lightyear has raised round $100 million to date, although roughly three-quarters of that funding has come in 2021, so it’s been constructing a large head of steam. In April, it racked up a partnership with Japanese tire giant Bridgestone, and in early July, it revealed outcomes from a long-range check that present the corporate could actually meet its ambitious range and solar generation goals.

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