Production of the Lightyear 0, the first solar-powered car from TU/e spin-off Lightyear, took off in Uusikaupunki on Wednesday. Ironically, the small Finnish village in the snow sees little winter sunlight.
With its Finnish partner, Valmet Automotive, Lightyear hopes to be able to produce one solar car per week here. Next year that should be five a week, Omroep Brabant writes.
Would the assembled international press from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland please watch out for the wires lying on a table in the new production hall? “These are literally the headlights of our first customer”, laughs the tour guide. About 150 enthusiasts have pre-ordered the Lightyear 0. The car costs 250,000 euros and is therefore really for the happy few.
Price should come down
But that is about to change as far as Lightyear is concerned. The dream is an accessible solar car for around 30,000 euros. “But of course we don’t know what inflation will do,” says Lex Hoefsloot, director of Lightyear. In 2025, more customers might be able to drive around with it. Whether it will also be made in Finland, they don’t know yet.
Hoefsloot himself visited the Lightyear production hall in Finland for the first time. “How I feel? This is great of course. We show that we deliver. We have come from the drawing board and a prototype to the moment of actually taking the solar car into production”.
Not an easy start
Everyone warned Hoefsloot and his colleagues not to do it. Do not start with this car company. But Finnish manufacturer Valmet Automotive believed in it. “Lightyear is really looking ahead,” says CEO Olaf Bongwald. “We can learn a lot of new things from this, and that is one of the most important mottos of our company”. Valmet Automotive has been making electric cars for some time and also produced for car brands such as Saab, Porsche and currently Mercedes. “It took a lot of failures, setbacks and long nights to get to this moment”.
A storage shed has been converted into a state-of-the-art production line on the large Valmet Automotive site in Uusikaupunki, which is located in South-West Finland. To actually take the car into production was a major challenge. “You have to deal with many suppliers, who all have to deliver at the right time, so that all parts can be assembled here”, says Hoefsloot.
The Finnish employees are very happy with the arrival of the company from Helmond. Two of them are Sofia Vuorio and Sinikka Krestina. “We make the interiors of the cars. It is so wonderful that a solar car is being produced here,” says Sinnika. “We have been building interiors for seven years, so we are very experienced,” says Sofia.
In Finland they can’t wait to give a customer the first key. The tour guide likes to show the assembled press the latest gadgets. The four independent motors, which are in the wheels. The vegan interior, to make everything as sustainable as possible. The light weight of a large car and the aerodynamics.
The fight against climate change is very important for Lightyear and Valmet Automotive. “Everything starts in a small way. We are a whisper before the riot starts,” says Hoefsloot.
Source: Omroep Brabant
For Eindhoven News: Lila Mehrez