Companion app for the first solar car

Providing drivers with a superior user experience while reducing their impact on the environment.

Lightyear is a pioneering automotive company based in the Netherlands that develops grid-independent, production-ready solar electric vehicles. Its mission is to provide drivers with a superior user experience while reducing their impact on the environment. With a design that is focused on efficiency, this technology-driven brand enables users to recharge on the go, monitor energy status and usage and charge their vehicle twice as fast as a comparable electric vehicle with a similar battery size.

Lightyear needed to design and build a companion app for its first low-volume car to coincide with the vehicle launch. The company wanted users to see the real-time performance of the cars’ solar panels in conjunction with seeing the beauty and innovation of the engineering itself. User experience is key for Lightyear’s customers so a seamless, elegant branded experience was required. While their product vision was strong they knew they needed to work with an experienced design partner that could rise to the challenge of creating a superior digital product.

Identifying opportunities

The team at Hike One guided Lightyear through a comprehensive discovery phase including a series of interviews, workshops and UX research sessions, designed to unearth possible design directions and testing methodologies. The outcomes were then mapped to the business objectives and user requirements through a collaborative process involving key members of the design, marketing and engineering teams.  

Establishing the foundations

The discovery phase identified several important milestones. Hike One had already created a companion app to Lightyear’s Layer, a service which enables users to fit solar panels onto third-party cars. Hike One’s companion app meant drivers could view energy use data from solar panels in real-time. The success of this partnership formed a strong foundation of research findings, ideas, designs and components from which the two companies could develop a companion app for the Lightyear 0 car.

Working in close collaboration with expert developers from our trusted partner ‘Q42’ and using iterative SCRUM methodologies we challenged and validated assumptions. We experimented with customer journey mapping, testing the possible routes as part of the wider research strategy, designing and testing prototypes and gathering feedback.

"Hike One brought a range of approaches that helped us get from nothing to exciting very quickly. Their creative explorations pushed us into really innovative territory, and their collaborative spirit helped our work gain traction across the company. I would recommend Hike One to anyone with a product at a similar life stage."
Tom Harle, Lead customer research and connected services

Scalable, adaptable software

Lightyear’s plans for the future are far-reaching and highly ambitious. To meet their goals and objectives they needed scalable software to support the evolving needs of their business and audience.

Design System for complete control

Hike One’s agile process ensured we could establish a solid foundation for Lightyear to build the required software with a view to using the app as a foundation for other vehicles in development. We developed a token-based design system so the client can maintain complete control over the product’s visual attributes and consistency in quality. By integrating this with the product code, we delivered modular information architecture that will help Lightyear control costs, and speed up future development times.

Surpassing client expectations

In the week of June 20th, 2022, Lightyear presented their road-legal car to the tech press, investors and clients. Hike One  and Q42 were delighted to help enhance this important event for Lightyear with the successful launch of the MVP companion app for iOS and Android.

Guests were able to download and connect the app to one of the demo cars at the event and see the real-time performance of the cars’ solar panels. The audience did not expect a working companion app at this stage so this added considerable impact to an already highly impressive launch.

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