(Bloomberg) -- Dutch mobility startup Lightyear started making the world’s first series-production electric vehicle that generates power directly from sunlight.
Its first model, the Lightyear 0, comes with a price tag of €250,000 ($259,000) and has already collected around 150 pre-orders.
Lightyear plans to make about a thousand of the model at a Valmet Automotive Oyj facility in Finland, starting at a rate of one car a week. By the second half of next year, production should increase to five weekly, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot told Bloomberg in an interview.
The car, which features curved solar panels across the hood and roof, is able to drive two months without charging in Amsterdam during summer, and as many as seven months in Portugal, according to Hoefsloot. Sun-derived power will add as much as 70 kilometers (43 miles) of driving range each day.
Cars powered by the sun have struggled to make it beyond the prototype stage because of the large area solar panels require. Fundraising in the early days was a challenge as investors were reluctant to put their money into a new concept, Hoefsloot said.
“Right now, we’re at a much more mature” stage, adding that the majority of investments came from the Netherlands. Lightyear secured €81 million from a Dutch-led group of investors in September.
The company, founded in the Netherlands in 2016, has also been developing Lightyear 2, its second high-volume model, with a starting price of around €30,000. The Lightyear 2 is expected to go into production by 2025 and has reservations from leasing and car-sharing companies LeasePlan Corp NV and MyWheels, according to the company.
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