The Dutch electric vehicle startup Lightyear has unexpectedly suspended the production of its first model – the Lightyear 0 – to focus on the development of a more affordable version of the vehicle that was named the Lightyear 2.
The announcement was made in a blog post shared yesterday. Lightyear’s leadership commented that the company is “overcoming many challenges” although it did not specify what kind of hurdles they have been dealing with to get things up and running.
According to Lightyear’s official roadmap, the company planned to deliver the first units of the Lightyear 0 this month. The suspension, therefore, probably means that the firm did not have the resources in terms of manufacturing capabilities or funding to make that happen.
The Lightyear 0 would have been one of the most expensive EVs in the market with an initial price tag of $250,000. Meanwhile, the company’s upcoming Lightyear 2 model will reportedly cost between $30,000 and $45,000.
The Lightyear 2 Could Now Be Released Sooner Than Expected
The Lightyear 2 was initially intended to be released in 2025 if everything went as planned. However, the company could now deliver the first units sooner given that it will not be working on the zero anymore.
“Unfortunately we had to make this decision. The whole process of developing Lightyear 0 has provided our company many valuable learnings over the past years. We are now redirecting all our energy towards building Lightyear 2 in order to make it available to clients on schedule.”, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lightyear, Lex Hoefsloot, commented.
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The head of the EV startup stated that they already have a waitlist made up 40,000 orders from individual customers and another 20,000 from leasing companies who would reportedly like to incorporate the Lightyear 2 to their feet.
Lightyear also announced that the company formed specifically for the production of Lightyear 0 – Atlas Technologies B.V. – has submitted a request to a local court to suspend all its payments. Companies within The Netherlands can request up to 18 months of debt suspension if a reorganization is required.
What is Lightyear?
Lightyear was founded in 2016 with the mission of creating the world’s most efficient solar-powered vehicle. The company has reportedly filed 49 patents for its technology and employs over 500 workers including interns. In September last year, the company raised $81 million from investors.
According to sources within the industry, the Lightyear 0 was considered proof-of-concept rather than a vehicle for the mass market. However, the company had already pre-sold 150 units of the Lightyear 0 and they told TechCrunch earlier this year that they were producing one vehicle per week.
The company’s intentions were to make the zero a collectible and, for that purpose, they would manufacture less than 1,000 units in total. It is unclear if they will get any close to that number or how many units have been dispatched thus far.
EV Companies Face Many Headwinds Including Difficulties to Raise Fresh Capital
Companies within the EV space have been struggling lately with shortages and elevated commodity prices. Moreover, the lockdowns imposed in China to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus have made things even more difficult for these businesses.
In addition, the macroeconomic environment has deteriorated in most corners of the developed world as a result of the hawkish measures adopted by central banks to keep inflation at bay.
Equity valuations have dropped as a result and that translates into difficulties for startups to raise the capital they need to further advance their projects. It is unclear if Lightyear has enough money to complete its ambitious projects at the moment as no public data is available concerning its finances.
In this regard, Lightyear’s CEO commented: “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”.
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