A group of five students of the Eindhoven School of Technology won the World Solar Challenge Downunder four times in the past years and managed to develop their winning race-car into a real passenger vehicle. The Lightyear Solar Car was born! The Lightyear 0 (formerly named Lightyear One) is a vehicle that runs on solar energy and initially came with its price tag of 250,000 Euros, thus not really qualifying as a car for the masses. First deliveries started in December 2022 however production stopped a few days ago. In a strategy shift, the management explained a strategic restructuring effectively meaning the suspension of production of Lightyear 0.
A solar powered car for the masses
The idea of a car that doesn’t solely rely on plug-in sources for the electricity stored in its 60 kWh battery pack makes total sense. A span of photovoltaic cells across the top of the car’s body combined with a lightweight chassis provided the solution in the Lightyear. The Lightyear 0 claimed to reach more than 600 km (WLTP range) but costs of 250,000 Euros meant that the vehicle was only ‘in reach’ for a very limited number of buyers.
Earlier this week the company announced that production of Lightyear 0 was suspended due to the ramp up of Lightyear 2. The company wrote in a statement that this decision was “not taken lightly as it impacts all who embarked on this journey with us. Those are of course our own employees, who work day in day out to make solar mobility a reality, alongside our investors, clients, suppliers and the government.”
The Lightyear management submitted the request to the Dutch courts to open suspension of payment proceedings in relation to Atlas Technologies B.V., the operating company responsible for the production of Lightyear 0. However where there is darkness there is light, as “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 plan: Lightyear launched a waitlist for Lightyear 2 resulting in more than 40,000 subscriptions of individual customers with approximately 20,000 pre-orders from fleet owners. Focusing on this more affordable solar vehicle will allow the team to reach a wider audience, providing clean mobility for everyone, everywhere.
The Lightyear 2 is scheduled to be launched in 2025, the vehicle is set to arrive with a shorter range and smaller battery. With an integrated layer of solar cells extending the journeys, the Lightyear crew calculated a reach of over 800 kilometers before the next plug charge. Thus the Lightyear 2 will need three times fewer charges than a conventional EV. That means more time, energy and freedom to travel unanchored by charging infrastructure. And as well as the sun, any power outlet in the world will become a charging station.
Photos courtesy of Lightyear.