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Developing the electric car that charges itself: Lightyear One

Project description

The first commercial solar-powered electric car

The idea of electric vehicles powered by solar cells is gaining momentum, but most have been built for solar car races. With EU funding of the LIGHTYEAR project, a Dutch start-up is taking the idea to a new level by planning to get its newly designed solar-powered car – Lightyear One – to the commercial stage. Lightyear One will be the first commercially available electric solar car in the world that charges itself with sunlight. By using four in-wheel motors, and advanced aerodynamics with lightweight materials, drivers will be able to travel for weeks or even months without worrying about the availability of a charging infrastructure. The Dutch company hopes to build 10 such cars in 2020 and start serial production from 2021.


Lightyear, an international team of 90 engineers including triple winners of the World Solar Challenge, experienced engineers (180+ years) from the aerospace, racing and automotive industry (e.g. ASML, Tesla, Ferrari and Inalfa) and alumni of the Eindhoven University of Technology, develops the first commercially available electric solar car in the world that charges itself: the Lightyear One. The extremely efficient family car will be able to drive for weeks or even months on self-generated solar energy. The engineers started from the rationale that the car should be incredibly efficient, in order to make an independent entity having its own energy source. To achieve this, Lightyear had to minimize the car’s energy consumption and maximize its energy input, by using four inwheel motors instead of one rigid motor, lowering the total mass of the car by using lightweight biobased materials, redesign to improve aerodynamics, developing a new battery pack; integrating their in-house custom developed solar panels on the roof and the bonnet of the car. Result: a car that excellences in driving range, in weight, in energy consumption, sustainability and operation costs compared to market's-state-of-the-art. Range anxiety, dependency on energy (charging) infrastructure and the use of non-renewable/inefficient energy sources to charge your car will belong to the past. In this project, Lightyear aims to develop, validate and demonstrate the first Lightyear One and associated assembly line, bringing their innovation from TRL 5/6 to 8. Lightyear expects to produce the first 10 signature cars in 2020, and start serial production from 2021 onwards. EBITDA is expected to turn positive in 2021 with a fivefold increase of FTEs. This development reinforces competitiveness and performance of European transport manufacturing industries on the global market.

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Net EU contribution
€ 2 499 350,00
5708 JZ Helmond

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Zuid-Nederland Noord-Brabant Zuidoost-Noord-Brabant
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 3 570 500,00