Solar electric vehicle maker Lightyear said it is stopping production of its flagship Lightyear 0, its premium EV with a sticker price of €250,000. Despite only starting production of the vehicle three months ago, Lightyear is restructuring to focus on building a more affordable model, the Lightyear 2 for around €40,000, Electrek reports.
The news comes as many electric vehicle manufacturers push back production and delivery dates due to a range of macroeconomic factors, such as semiconductor shortages, battery supply issues and rising material costs due to inflation. At the same time, with recession fears hovering over consumers and EV startups struggling to get vehicles off the assembly line, putting money into an extremely expensive model just doesn’t make good business sense.
The Lightyear 0 was always intended as a technology demonstrator that would be produced in limited quantities. In a press release, Lightyear said it had to overcome “many challenges” to make its vehicles a reality. The company didn’t specify what challenges, but said that to protect its vision, the Lightyear 0 had to die so that the Lightyear 2 could thrive.
“We are now putting all of our energy into building Lightyear 2 to make it available to customers on schedule,” Lightyear’s CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot said in a statement.
Lightyear opened the waiting list at CES earlier this month for Lightyear 2, a five-seat hatchback with a promised range of 500 miles per charge. The company hasn’t shared many details about the car, but the Lightyear 2 has already received more than 40,000 pre-orders from individual buyers and about 20,000 pre-orders from fleet owners such as international leasing and car-sharing companies Leaseplan, MyWheels, Arval and Athlon, a spokesperson for the company said. company told ExamPaper.
Production of the Lightyear 2 is scheduled for late 2025. It’s not clear if the company plans to push that production date forward now that it won’t be building the Lightyear 0, for which it already sold pre-150 units. Earlier this month, a Lightyear spokesperson told ExamPaper that the first Lightyear 0 has been produced and shown to the company’s first customer. The company said it was building one car a week since November and expected to ramp up weekly production later this year.
Lightyear did not respond to ExamPaper in time to comment on the production date of the 2s or whether it will make up for its 0 sales.
Lightyear does state in a press release that it has submitted a request to “the court to open a suspension of payments with regard to Atlas Technologies BV, our operating company responsible for the production of the Lightyear 0.” The company has not determined which court it has filed a suspension request with, but according to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, companies can request that their debts be frozen for 18 months, giving them time to reorganize.
Lightyear will likely try to raise more money to stay afloat. The company raised $81 million in September as it prepared to start production on Lightyear 0, but Hoefsloot noted that the company hopes to “complete some significant investments in the coming weeks to scale up the car” for a wider audience.