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, reports Electrek.
The news comes as many electric vehicle manufacturers are pushing back production and delivery dates due to a range of macroeconomic factors, such as semiconductor shortages, battery power problems and rising material costs due to inflation. Simultaneously with recession fears when a dark cloud hangs over consumers and EV startups struggling to get vehicles off the assembly line pour money into an extremely expensive model, it 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 businessroundups.org.
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 pre-sold 150 units. Earlier this month, a Lightyear spokesperson told businessroundups.org that the first Lightyear 0 has been produced and shown to the company’s first customer. The company said it had built one car a week since November and expected to ramp up weekly production later this year.
Lightyear did not respond to businessroundups.org 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 did not specify which court it filed a suspension request with, but according to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, companies can ask to have their debts frozen for 18 months, so that they have 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.