Solar-powered electric vehicle maker Lightyear says it is discontinuing production of its flagship Lightyear 0, a premium EV with a sticker price of €250,000. Although production on the vehicle began three months ago, Lightyear is restructuring to focus on building a more affordable model, with the Lightyear 2 costing around €40,000, Electrek reports.
The news comes as many electric vehicles push back production and delivery dates due to factors such as semiconductor shortages, battery supply problems and rising costs of materials. At the same time, with the recession looming like a dark cloud over consumers and EV startups struggling to get vehicles off the assembly line, throwing money into a more expensive model doesn’t make good business sense.
Lightyear 0 was always intended as a technology demonstration to be produced in limited quantities. In a press release, Lightyear had to overcome “many challenges” to make the vehicles a reality. The company hasn’t revealed what the challenges are, but it says that in order to preserve its vision, Lightyear 0 must die so Lightyear 2 can thrive.
“Right now we’re putting all our energy into building Lightyear 2 2 to make it available to customers on schedule,” Lightyear CEO and co-founder Lex Hofsloot said in a statement.
Lightyear opened its waiting list for the Lightyear 2, a five-seat hatchback with 500 miles per charge, earlier this month. The company didn’t share many details on the car, but already the Lightyear 2 has more than 40,000 reservations from individual buyers and about 20,000 pre-orders from global leasing and car-sharing companies such as Leaseplan, MyWheels, Arval and Athlon, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Lightyear 2 will begin production in mass-market volumes in late 2025. It’s unclear whether the company will build on the existing Lightyear 0. -150 units sold. Earlier this month, a Lightyear spokesperson told TechCrunch that the first Lightyear 0 was produced and demonstrated to the company’s first customer. The company said it has been building one car a week since November and will ramp up weekly production later this year.
Lightyear did not respond to TechCrunch in time to comment on the 2’s production date or whether it would be good at 0 sales.
But Lightyear said in a press release that “the court has filed a request to open payment proceedings against Atlas Technologies BV, our operating company responsible for the Lightyear 0 product.” The company did not say to which court it filed the suspension request, but according to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, companies could request an 18-month suspension of their debts, giving them time to reorganize.
Lightyear tries to raise more money to stay afloat. The company raised $81 million in September as it prepares to begin production on the Lightyear 0, but Hofsluth said the company will complete some key investments in the coming weeks to develop the car for a wider audience.