Netherlands-based solar EV maker Lightyear has announced that it’s freezing production of its flagship model, the Lightyear 0 — less than three months after going into production. As part of a “strategic restructuring,” the company will now focus on making the Lightyear 2, priced at around €40,000. This is expected to go into production in late 2025.
The company’s journey has been a long and impressive one. From a student team at a solar vehicle competition, Lightyear transformed into a startup in 2016, and quickly mapped itself on the automotive map with the Lightyear 0. The solar EV featured some stirring in-house tech, promising to be a game changer in a niche market. It also came with a prohibitive price tag: €250,000.
Lightyear says that it hasn’t taken this decision to pivot lightly, as it impacts its “employees,” “investors,” “clients,” “suppliers,” and “the government.” The reason behind the move remains vague, with the announcement citing “challenges” over the past months, which made the action a necessary step to “safeguard” the startup’s vision.
It’s not unreasonable to assume that battery supply bottlenecks, semiconductor shortages, and rising costs of materials due to inflation might have impacted Lightyear. And beyond that, with recession concerns increasing, switching from a limited luxury product to a more affordable one seems like a timely strategic move.
With the Lightyear 2, the company is targeting an entirely different (and wider) market, compared to the first model that was mainly intended as a technology demonstrator to be produced in limited quantities.
The new five-seater hatchback, with a promised range of 800km and 50% lower emissions compared to conventional EVs, was announced at this year’s CES. While the company hasn’t disclosed many details yet, it said that the vehicle will “inherit all of [the 0’s] innovations at a fraction of the market price.”
According to the CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot’s statement, the new model already counts 40,000 waitlist subscriptions from individual customers, and 20,000 pre-orders from fleet owners.
“We hope to conclude some key investments in the coming weeks in order to scale up to Lightyear 2, an affordable solar electric vehicle available for a wider audience,” he added.