Electric Car

Lightyear One solar car will be made by Finland’s Valmet

Dutch startup Lightyear has selected Finnish contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive to build the Lightyear One solar-supplemented electric car.

Prototype builds are scheduled to start in January 2022, followed by full production in summer 2022, Lightyear said in a press release. Additional performance testing, optimization, and regulatory homologation still needs to be done in the coming months, the company noted.

Valmet is a well-established contract manufacturer, with some prior experience with electrified vehicles. It produced the Fisker Karma, before Fisker Automotive hit financial trouble, and assembled the Think City electric car prior to that. Numerous other vehicles, including the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Porsche Boxster, and several Saab models, have also rolled off Valmet’s assembly lines over the years.

Lightyear One validation prototype

Lightyear One validation prototype

Valmet doesn’t otherwise build its own vehicles, although it displayed a very strange mobility concept in 2012. Called the Dawn, it featured odd-looking bodywork that drooped toward the ground, and exposed powertrain components.

While this strategy wasn’t enough to save Fisker from financial ruin, using a contract manufacturer avoids the cost and complexity of opening a new factory, or repurposing an existing one. Most other EV startups are going that route, however.

The Lightyear One uses a solar roof that, the company claims, can provide enough electricity for 70% to 90% of annual mileage, in optimal conditions. That would allow drivers to largely avoid charging, and means Lightyear can get by without a huge battery pack. On a closed course, a prototype was driven 440 miles on a single charge of its 60-kilowatt-hour pack, according to the company.

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