Dutch solar-powered car startup Lightyear has secured €81m in new investment — a vote of confidence in Europe’s climate tech ecosystem amid tougher economic conditions.
Lightyear will use the cash to ensure it gets its first car — the Lightyear 0 — onto the road this year, making it the world’s first commercially sold solar-powered car. It will cost €250k and be on sale in the EU.
The funds will also be used to develop a second vehicle, Lightyear 2, which is set to be significantly cheaper than the first.
Lightyear’s new funding comes in part from public money, including a chunk from the state-run Invest-NL and regional development agencies in the Netherlands. Funding also came from private funds SHV and DELA.
Climate investment isn’t cooling off
As a potential recession looms, the round is a positive sign that investors still want to back Europe’s climate tech sector.
The number of climate tech deals is down from an average of 80 per month in 2021 to 61 so far in 2022, according to Dealroom. But, despite brisker temperatures, the amount of capital brought in remains on a similar level to last year.
Lightyear, which was founded in 2013, works by fitting solar cells to the car roof and the front of the vehicle. Motors are located within each wheel, eliminating the friction of axles and thus lowering the amount of energy the car uses.
Lightyear’s first car can run for 725km, with 70km of that coming from solar and the rest from electric charging. If someone drives less than 70km, their journey will be entirely powered by solar.
Speaking to Sifted at the end of last year, Martijn Lammers, cofounder of the company, estimated that 40% of Lightyear drivers would never have to charge their cars. The cars are being manufactured in Finland.
The Lightyear 2 will be a cheaper model aimed at the mass market.
“We expect to be able to launch a much more affordable version which is very much, price-wise, comparable with what you’d pay for an average car at the moment,” Lammers told Sifted.
“We really want to get to the point where people don’t have to think about whether they can afford an electric vehicle.”