In a weekly column, alternately written by Maarten Steinbuch, Mary Fiers, Carlo van de Weijer, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. The six columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So that Tomorrow will be Better. This Sunday it’s Tessie Hartjes’ turn, about the progress at Lightyear. Here all previous episodes.
June 2017: the beginning
My first full-time job, my first day at Lightyear. The team consisted of 6 other full-time employees, a number of part-time employees and an office without daylight in the Microlab. At that time, everything was immediately dedicated to Lightyear’s “Public Launch”. This announcement was not only meant to inform the world about this new Dutch car brand but also that the first model, the Lightyear One, could be reserved from then on. Based on these first teasers we also found our first ambassadors.
June 2018: new office
June 2018, my contract has been extended to a contract for an indefinite period. The team now consists of about 70 people and is located on the Automotive Campus in an office of 1000m2. The production hall – where the first prototype of the Lightyear One will come out in a year’s time – is under construction.
Despite the fact that the website still has the same teasers as a year ago, an enormous amount of work has been done to realize the Lightyear One; the first electric car that can do its work anywhere in the world. Every consideration is made in the interest of this concept, with many integral discussions across all disciplines. In an ugly word, that is called poldering. But as Dutch people we are good at that; making complex interdisciplinary systems, starting from zero. With a clean sheet, we rebuild the car from below up, so that it is optimised in all respects for the final goal. With the Stellas in mind and only a couple of rather dark teasers, one of the biggest questions is: what will the car look like? And that’s the question that we finally largely answered 2 weeks ago, during a private Design Unveiling.
September 2018: Design Unveiling
One year after the Public Launch, this “Design Unveiling” is the moment when we can show our ambassadors what we have been working on over the past year. But also the first time that many of our own team see Lightyear One for the first time. No more mysterious dark pictures but full spotlights. Besides our investors or early customers, this was also a moment to finally show family and friends what some colleagues are commuting 3 hours a day to and from Helmond ‘t Hout for.
Unfortunately, not yet for the whole outside world; all phones had to be put in a sealed bag beforehand so no pictures could be made. Because we are not there yet, the coming months there will be several new iterations and only next year the design will be finally revealed to the general public. Then our organization is ready for it.
The Unveiling has been an important moment for us to collect as much feedback as possible that we can take with us in those subsequent iterations. This could be done by leaving post-its on a wall, or by writing feedback on white cards and leaving it anonymously in one of the mailboxes in the room. In addition, there was also the possibility to have your opinion recorded on camera.
Besides the design of both the exterior and the interior, we were also able to show a first prototype of the sunroof and a rolling chassis. It is bizarre to see how much has happened in a year. Whereas a year ago, with less than 5 people in a TL-tube-lit office, we carefully uncorked a bottle of champagne after the Public Launch, we now stood with the whole team of almost 90 people in the middle of an unrecognizable production hall that had been transformed into a very atmospheric event location in the midst of the first realization of Lightyear One. In two days, we received more than 1100 visitors, thanks to the construction company van de Ven and all other stakeholders who worked with us to make this event a success.
On to June 2019: the prototype unveiling of Lightyear One.