It says it plans to focus on producing a less expensive car aimed at the mass market.
Electric vehicle company Lightyear has announced that it’s halting production on the Lightyear 0, its €250,000 (around $270,000 USD) solar-powered car that the company started making just three months ago (via Electrek). The setback is part of a “strategic restructuring,” according to a Monday blog post, and the company will instead focus on making the Lightyear 2, a car that it says will cost under $40,000 and go into production in late 2025.
The company says it didn’t take the decision lightly, given that it’ll impact its employees, as well as “investors, clients, suppliers and the government.” It’ll also presumably have an impact on Valmet Automotive, the company Lightyear contracted to build the 0 (and which announced potential layoffs at the facility responsible for making the car earlier this month). As for why Lightyear’s decided to halt production, the company is vague — it says it’s faced several challenges over the past several months and that the move is meant to “safeguard our vision.”
Lightyear also says it’s asking the court to begin “suspension of payment proceedings” for the company responsible for making the Lightyear 0; its corporate structure includes a holding company as well as another organization.
The Lightyear 0, revealed in 2019, was meant to be a flagship vehicle (as its price made obvious) and could theoretically get up to 44 miles of range by solar power alone, provided by five square meters of panels. That’s not exactly common for EVs; the Lightyear 0 was one of the first to go into production with solar power capabilities, though it’s unclear how many the company actually ended up making. Its original plan was to produce 946.
The Lightyear 2, announced at this year’s CES, is meant for an entirely different market, with the company saying it’ll “inherit all the innovations of Lightyear 0 at a fraction of the market price.” According to Monday’s announcement, it already has “20,000 pre-orders from fleet owners” for the crossover. Developing the 0 gave the company “many valuable learnings over the past years” that it’ll use when making the 2, according to a quote from CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot in the press release.
With that said, it’d be hard to tell if 0 really proved itself, given that there were likely only a handful ever built.
Lightyear didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on what would happen to any already-produced Lightyear 0s or whether its restructuring plan involved layoffs. Another question mark is how the company plans on funding work on the Lightyear 2.
No longer selling almost a thousand hyper-expensive cars will almost certainly require a change in plans. The company says it hopes to “conclude some key investments in the coming weeks in order to scale up to Lightyear 2,” but I have to wonder if this news will affect those plans.