The Lightyear 0 solar-assisted EV has started production at contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive's facility in Finland, Lightyear confirmed Wednesday in a press release.
The Dutch startup said Valmet will initially produce just one car per week, gradually scaling up production in the first quarter of 2023. The Lightyear 0 will never be a mass-market vehicle, though. Lightyear previously said it's planning a run of just 150 cars with a roughly $260,000 price tag. A higher volume model called the Lightyear 2 is scheduled to start production in 2025.
Lightyear 0 production at Valmet Automotive in Finland
Formerly known as the Lightyear One, the Lightyear 0 has a battery pack and onboard charger like a conventional EV, but relies primarily on integrated solar panels for electricity.
Lightyear has emphasized that owners might not need to charge for months, and when they do, they won't need to worry about charging up such a large battery pack. Rather than just a few extra miles from being parked in the sun all day, the firm says it can recover up to 6.2 miles an hour. It bills this as a way to leapfrog the grid and rely less on charging infrastructure.
Lightyear claims it and contractor Valmet are the first to "manufacture an electric vehicle that generates power directly from sunlight." The Lightyear 0 isn't unique in using solar power to charge a battery pack, though.
In fact, the same facility that just started building the Lightyear 0 is also slated to produce the Sono Sion, which applies the solar-charging concept to a more conventional hatchback shape. Valmet previously made the Think City, one of the first modern EVs, as well as the Fisker Karma, and certain Porsche and Saab models.