The company says it did not take the decision lightly, as it will affect its employees, as well as “investors, customers, suppliers and the government.” Presumably it will also have an impact on Valmet Automotive, the company Lightyear contracted to build the 0 (and which announced possible layoffs at the facility responsible for making the car earlier this month). As for why Lightyear decided to halt production, the company is vague: It says it faced several challenges in recent months and that the move is aimed at “safeguarding our vision.”
Lightyear also says it’s asking the court to start “stop payment proceedings” for the company responsible for making the Lightyear 0; Its corporate structure includes a holding company as well as another organization.
The Lightyear 0, revealed in 2019, was meant to be a flagship vehicle (as its price made apparent) and could theoretically achieve up to 44 miles of range on solar power alone, provided by five square meters of panels. That’s not exactly common for electric vehicles; the Lightyear 0 was one of the first to go into production with solar power capabilities, though it’s unclear how many the company ended up making. His original plan was to produce 946.
Lightyear 2, announced at CES this year, is aimed at a completely different market, with the company saying it will “inherit all the innovations from Lightyear 0 at a fraction of the market price.” According to Monday’s announcement, it already has “20,000 fleet owner pre-orders” for the crossover. Developing the 0 gave the company “a lot of valuable learning over the past few years” that it will use when making the 2, according to a quote from CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot in the press release.
That said, it would be hard to tell if 0 really proved its worth, given that only a handful were likely built.
Lightyear did not immediately respond to the edgeThe request for comment on what would happen to the already produced Lightyear 0s or if their turnaround plan involved layoffs. Another question mark is how the company plans to finance work on Lightyear 2.
Stopping selling nearly a thousand hyper-expensive cars will almost certainly require a change of plans. The company says it expects to “conclude some key investments in the coming weeks to scale to Lightyear 2,” but I have to wonder if this news will affect those plans.