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New family office owned by Swiss pharmaceutical heirs back electric car rival to Tesla

A little-known wealthy Swiss family have backed a Dutch eclectic car maker that plans to bring out its first model soon with a much better range than current vehicles. 

A recently set up investment/holdings group called ZeroPoint Holdings just backed solar electric vehicle maker Lightyear with an injection of $48 million. 

Lightyear plans to launch Lightyear 1, its first vehicle that, according to its makers will have a range of 725 kilometres through built-in solar panels. It hopes to rival Tesla in the increasingly competitive electric car market. 

ZeroPoint was registered in the Netherlands last month, with two directors: Laurens Weers, Lightyear’s CFO, and Clemens Schlettwein, a member of the Swiss Schlettwein-Gsell family. 

The family are behind a number of sustainable businesses linked to the Basel-based Margarethe and Rudolf Gsell Foundation. Clemens Schlettwein sits on the board of directors of the foundation.  

Rudolf Gsell, who died in 1962, was a board member of Roche Holding, the huge family-owned, but listed Swiss pharmaceutical group, which appears to be the original source of wealth for the Schlettwein-Gsell family.  

The family has since diversified into other businesses, including alternative pallet company NUBO and food business Urban Farmers, as well as other mostly sustainable-led businesses. 

Lightyear, which is based in the Automotive Campus outside of the Dutch town of Helmond, received initial backing from the European Union. Its senior staff come from a number of automobile makers including Tesla and VW. 

Lightyear said it plans to raise additional funding to back its quest to rival the likes of Tesla in the very hot race for electric car models. 

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