The Netherlands-based manufacturer of solar EVs, Lightyear has announced that it will freeze production of its flagship model, the Lightyear 0 — less than three months after commissioning. As part of a “strategic restructuring”, the company will now focus on making the Lightyear 2, which will cost around €40,000. It is expected to go into production at the end of 2025.
The company’s journey has been long and impressive. Lightyear, from a student team at a solar vehicle competition, transformed into a start-up in 2016 and quickly put itself on the automotive map with the Lightyear 0. The solar-powered electric car had exciting internal technology and promised to be a game changer in a niche market. It also came with a prohibitive price tag: €250,000.
Lightyear says it has not taken this decision lightly as it will affect its ’employees’, ‘investors’, ‘customers’, ‘suppliers’ and ‘government’. The rationale behind the move remains vague, with the announcement citing “challenges” over the past few months, making the move a necessary step to “protect” the startup’s vision.
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It’s not unreasonable to assume that bottlenecks in the battery supply, semiconductor shortages and rising material costs due to inflation may have affected Lightyear. And beyond that, as recession concerns mount, moving from a limited luxury product to a more affordable one seems like an appropriate strategic move.
With the Light year 2the company is targeting a completely different (and broader) market compared to the first model which was mainly intended as a technology demonstrator to be produced in limited quantities.
The new five-seat hatchback, with a promised range of 800 km and 50% lower emissions compared to conventional EVs, was announced at this year’s CES. Although the company has not revealed many details yet, it is said that the vehicle “will inherit everything [the 0’s] innovations for a fraction of the market price.”
That says CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot pronunciationthe new model already has 40,000 waiting list subscriptions from individual customers and 20,000 pre-orders from fleet owners.
“We hope to complete some major investments in the coming weeks to scale up to Lightyear 2, an affordable solar powered vehicle available to a wider audience,” he added.