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Lightyear is a Dutch technology company on a mission to make clean mobility available to everyone, everywhere in the world. Lightyear One is its first driving prototype: an innovative solar car with a focus on range and efficiency. Motorists driving with Lightyear One will be able, depending on the climate, to drive up to twenty thousand kilometers per year in sunlight. The fast-growing tech company was founded in 2016 and currently employs more than one hundred employees.
Lightyear started as a desire by CEO and founder, Lex Hoefsloot, who had a burning desire to contribute to finding a solution for climate change when he was young. The company was founded in 2016, three years after Solar Team Eindhoven won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge cruiser class competition. "Returning from the competition as winners in 2013, we were keen to develop further the technology we have been working on. The industry was slow to embrace and support our enthusiasm and drive, and that pushed us to make it work ourselves. Lightyear was the result of our determination to do something about this problem of climate change," says Lex.
Lex explains that the idea to build a solar car was initially an idea that he and a friend had, but then 20 more people joined them to form Solar Team Eindhoven (that took part in and won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2013). Following the repeated success at the Solar Challenge, five idealistic almost graduates returned to the drawing board and decided how best to make an impact on the planet. With mobility being one of the most significant contributors to climate change, and given their previous experience with Solar Team Eindhoven (with the world's first solar-powered family car), the five founders, Lex Hoefsloot, Qurein Biewenga, Koen van Ham, Arjo van der Ham, and Martijn Lammers chose mobility and set up Lightyear.
Lightyear is a mission-driven organization. They are teaming up with the sun to build better cars and make it their mission to make clean mobility available to everyone, everywhere in the world. Through that, they hope to contribute to solving a bigger problem: climate change. This purpose (mission) undergirds the company culture at Lightyear, and most of the employees who choose to work at Lightyear do so because they all want to contribute to this 'something bigger.'
"The mission is my reason for getting up early and going to bed late when things get difficult; we are all driven by WHY we are doing this. If what you are doing is worth doing and possible, and you have a team of equally minded people on-board, the motivation is there".
Lex read about climate change when he was 12 years old and was convinced that it is a solvable problem. He was sure that if humankind could achieve things like sending people to the moon, then surely we could solve this problem too. When he was 22, during his studies at TU/E (Technical University of Eindhoven), Lex and a friend decided to do something to contribute to the solving of this problem and played around with the idea of building a solar car.
"The idea of building a solar car started with the thought that we have many renewable energy sources available to us, the sun being ten times more potent than the others. If we could build cars that could efficiently convert the energy from this unlimited natural source, we would be contributing to solving the problem of climate change".
They contacted 20 intelligent people they knew and asked them to consider joining them on this mission, to devote one year of figuring out if this was a viable, do-able project. All 20 of those people decided to commit, and they started working on the dream. A student team (Solar Team Eindhoven) formed, which won the cruiser class of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in both 2013 and 2015. The five founders decided to act and created an impact-driven company where they could use their skills and experience to solve the problem.
As an impact-driven business, Lightyear is convinced that the more widely their solutions are adopted, the higher the positive knock-on effect will be on the environment.
The impact that Lightyear will have on the vehicle manufacturing industry, society, and the environment will be life-altering. Manufacturing of these vehicles will have to be done differently and will have short and long term implications for other big vehicle manufacturers. The short term impact will be that it provides an alternative to vehicle users to fossil-fuel vehicles. In the long term, it will have a significant positive effect on climate change by reducing fossil fuel consumption. Finally, in the long run, the way society (people) will see mobility will be completely changed as clean mobility will be available to everyone and everywhere.
Lightyear is raising funds and growing through reservations, investments, and grants.
A substantial amount of Lightyear Ones has been pre-ordered, and the production will start in 2021. Currently, the company is focusing on perfecting this driving prototype (unveiled to the public in June 2019) and converting it into the production model.
In 2020, Lightyear is focusing on developing its core technologies that make Lightyear One an ultra-efficient solar car and ensuring that it has reached the right maturity to ensure Lightyear’s competitive edge. Lightyear will integrate its core technologies into a new prototype, which will serve as a platform to showcase the maturity of Lightyear’s innovative technology on a commercial scale.
The Lightyear platform and the exclusive series will serve as the foundation for establishing strategic partnerships and attracting the investment needed for its significant planned scale-up in 2023.
The company will move up the placement of a more affordable model on the market. The projected sales price can be as sharp as 50.000 euro on these future models. This ambitious goal is in line with Lightyear’s mission: it is founded to generate a positive impact through technology innovation.
By scaling up its core technology and outsourcing, Lightyear expects to be ready to start high volume production of more than 100.000 cars per year around then.
Investments are capital injections that are mainly contributing to realizing the vision. A third investment round has just been finalized to prepare for the exclusive series production but also further technology development. Apart from investing, the public has the option to invest (E150000) in the company and then convert that investment into a Lightyear One (a reservation in the form of an investment). The Lightyear Exclusive series will be a limited edition of 946 cars - as a reference to a fraction of a lightyear, 9.46 billion kilometers. This offers investors the flexibility of buying a vehicle in shares and buyers the viability of purchasing a vehicle in ‘investment installments.’ Through this option, the public can contribute to the development of clean mobility and subsequently become one of the very first to own and drive a Lightyear solar vehicle.
Lightyear has received considerable grants: the company won the CES Climate Change Innovator award and became a finalist in the Postcode Lottery's Green Challenge.
Prototype development, testing, and scaling up the company is made possible through funding received from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 848620.
Lightyear merges profit-generation with benefiting society and proves that increasing profits and improving the environment can indeed go hand in hand.
By matching the performance of Lightyear One with beautiful design and driving comfort, the concept will make its way into people's lives and hearts and both societies and the environment will benefit.
Lightyear One is engineered with a strong focus on improving efficiency. It has an ultra-energy-efficient design with integrated solar panels in the roof and hood, and it has low aerodynamic drag. The low-weight car is built to perform well in long-distance travel with little to no opportunities to use charging infrastructure, such as long treks through the Outback or uninhabited tundra's. The result is a car with an exceptional range of 725km and four advanced in-wheel motors. Motorists will be able, depending on the climate, to drive up to twenty thousand kilometers per year on sunlight - addressing a significant concern electric vehicle owners have today: range anxiety.
"Lightyear is a measure of distance - and it is also the number of kilometers that cars on the planet drive right now. We aim to make sure that by 2035 that amount of kilometers will be driven on renewable energy. If every car provides its power, then we have achieved our mission".
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Lex Hoefsloot, CEO
Lightyear is a Dutch technology company on a mission to make clean mobility available to everyone, everywhere in the world. Lightyear One is their first driving prototype: an innovative solar car with a focus on range and efficiency. Motorists driving with Lightyear One will be able, depending on the climate, to drive up to twenty thousand kilometers per year in sunlight. The fast-growing tech company was founded in 2016 and currently employs more than one hundred employees.