In a weekly column, alternately written by Lucien Engelen, Mary Fiers, Maarten Steinbuch, Carlo van de Weijer, and Tessie Hartjes, E52 tries to find out what the future will look like. All five contributors – sometimes accompanied by guest bloggers – are working on solving the problems of our time. Everything to make Tomorrow Good. This Sunday, it‘s Tessie Hartjes’ turn. Here are all the previously published columns.
Last week I was present for Lightyear at “the World’s biggest tech show” in Las Vegas. The CES attracts over 170,000 people in 4 days time, this year including high attendance in the person of Vice-President Mike Pence. At Holland Pavillion no less than 53 of the best Dutch start-ups were present. The organization’s recognition of the Dutch entrepreneurial spirit came in the form of an award as Innovation Champion. As far as I’m concerned, the beautiful large orange pavilion with the modest booths can grow even more in the coming years – to do justice to all Dutch innovations, we still have much more to show.
And despite the fact that we may still be able to learn a little from the Americans in this area, I wonder whether CES is the right place for it. Throughout the week, I had an enormous feeling of despondency. Las Vegas is built on show. A city full of entertainment, shop windows filled with luxury lifestyle products and a cocktail bar on every corner. For one of my colleagues, it was a greater cultural shock than 2 weeks in Vietnam. Las Vegas, with all its fake splendor and her casinos, for me is the embodiment of overexploitation in a land with so much beautiful nature and original culture. The many victims of the consumer society are constantly put in a mega-large spotlight by the abundance of LED lights and advertising billboards on the streets.
In addition, the many gadgets shown on CES are aimed at the prosperous consumer and facilitating all facets of his life. Sometimes it makes me feel that we are too dependent on a relatively small but prosperous group of consumers. This sometimes remains difficult to reconcile with our mission. Luckily, every time I’m surprised by the dedication, drive, and courage of our first buyers to do something good for society and the planet. They choose to become part of a new movement and make the first indispensable investments. So that we can move as quickly as possible to larger runs for lower costs. They support Lightyear’s mission and want to contribute by making a reservation.
Sustainable transport everywhere and for everyone. At the moment it is not possible to produce the Lightyear One in very large numbers (think of hundreds of thousands), the technology is just ready for a limited edition of first exclusive solar cars. The concept therefore requires further development to grow into mass production. It is precisely this development that is Lightyear’s most important and main goal in the long term. The current small runs inherently increase Lightyear One’s price level. In order to get as close to the final goal as possible, we are already fulfilling part of the promise: electric cars that can go anywhere. Sustainable transport that works everywhere. Then, step-by-step, we work towards a model for everyone. And then, when I see the American cars, the incredible waste of capital and energy in Las Vegas, it is all the more annoying that we cannot already fill the vast parking spaces there with our solar cars.
After a week of American abundance and profusion, it makes me all the more proud to be Dutch. It confirms for me our chosen approach and sense of reality. Our goal is not only to build a sustainable car, but also to build a sustainable company with healthy and happy employees who are facilitated to come to their full advantage.
Let’s show them how it is done!