Lightyear One: Dutch solar-electric car coming in 2020

Company announces partnership with Leaseplan in the Netherlands

Lightyear One

Dutch electric-car startup Lightyear has announced a partnership with Leaseplan to make its solar-powered electric car available for both lease and purchase when it launches in 2020.

This week also sees the company open its production facility in Helmond in the Netherlands. It expects to have prototypes of its first model, the Lightyear One, built in 2019.

A 'Pioneer Edition' of the five-seat hatchback will then go on sale on the Dutch market in 2020, ahead of a 'broad launch' happening in 2021.

Lightyear says the One will be first production electric car with integrated solar cells. In typical Dutch weather, the One is expected to be able to drive for around 5,000 to 6,000 miles using energy from the sun. Its battery gives it a claimed range of nearly 500 miles on a full charge.

A calculator on the company's website lets you enter your location and find out how much of your annual driving could be done using power from the sun. For a driver in London doing around 12,000 miles a year, it estimates that 41% of the annual mileage could be completed on solar charging.

The One can also be plugged in to charge at home or at a charging point like other electric cars – something Lightyear estimates would only need to be done 25 times a year if covering the above mileage in the UK, compared to 54 times a year for a Tesla Model S P100D.

Lightyear was founded by former competitors in the World Solar Challenge – an engineering competition focused on building solar-powered vehicles. The company currently employs 100 people, including former Tesla, Ferrari and Jaguar employees.

'Solar roof' charging technology has been offered on the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius Plug-In and is also being developed by Hyundai and Kia. It's possible to charge an electric car from domestic solar panels as well.