Just weeks after announcing a cheaper EV model, it looks like the business of making solar cars proved too much for Lightyear and its production company, Atlas Technologies. The Dutch company recently filed documents for bankruptcy with a court in Netherlands, Autoblog reports.
Lightyear hit the world stage in 2019 with a quarter-million-dollar, five-door liftback solar-charging Lightyear 1. A production version soon followed called Lightyear 0 that cost €119,000 or about $141,000 in American dollars. The 0 featured over a thousand small solar panels on its exterior that could catch the sun’s energy to charge the car’s 60 kWh battery. Production of the 0 was eventually outsourced to a Finnish company after receiving an order for 946 units, and in November it was building just one car a week. That number was supposed to jump to five cars a week by mid-2023.
Another, cheaper Lightyear model was debuted at CES in January. The Lightyear 2 had a claimed range of 500 miles and a starting price of just $45,000, with production aimed to being in 2025. But with the bankruptcy announcement, the 2's future appears up in the air.
The company’s future might also be up in the air — Lightyear issued a statement apologizing to those affected by the move.
Lightyear regrets having to make this announcement for all employees, customers, investors and suppliers and will work closely with the curator and all the people who are involved and hope for their understanding and support. In the coming period the trustee will focus on the position of the employees and creditors as well as assessing how the Lightyear concept can be continued.
Despite the sudden bankruptcy announcement, Lightyear could still have a future on the roads. Lightyear’s holding company, Atlas Technologies Holding B.V. (not Atlas Technologies, which is the production company), is not part of the bankruptcy. It owns the intellectual property of Lightyear vehicles. So, if it can find a backer with appropriately deep pockets, the cars may still find their way to the roads under the sun, someday.