In the dreams of a perfect, zero emissions world, the idea of a car that uses solar energy to recharge like the Lightyear 0 made so much sense. The Zero doesn’t totally rely on a plug-in source for the electricity stored in its 60 kWh battery pack and uses a span of photovoltaic cells across the top side of the car’s body. Along with its strong reliance on its claimed 0.19 coefficient of drag and relative lightweight, the Lightyear 0 was able to go 388 miles on Europe’s WLTP cycle. At roughly $250,000, it was also a very expensive solar car despite its impressive range on such a small battery. If you’ve noticed we’re using past tense, that’s because Lightyear announced that production of the Zero has been suspended due to a ramp-up of the Lightyear 2, a more “affordable” and larger solar-charged vehicle.
We reached out to Lightyear to see what the deal was with the suspension of production on the Zero, but they were unable to get back to us in time for this publication. That said, they did release a statement that was light on the details on the why, what Zero deposit holders can do (besides get them returned), or any new details on the Lightyear 2.
According to their release, they are working on suspending payments to Atlas Technologies B.V., which is the operating company responsible for production of the Zero. They also mention that Atlas Technologies Holding B.V.—the intellectual property rights owner—and Lightyear Layer B.V. are not in the scope of this legal proceeding. This means that the company itself doesn’t look to be in danger of collapsing, at least on paper, but the move is rather abrupt and may squander the confidence of those who are looking at ordering future Lightyear vehicles.
During our visit to Lightyear’s CES booth, there wasn’t any indication that the Lightyear Zero was going to stop production but did announce that their next vehicle was going to be the Lightyear 2. The company had begun to take pre-orders just before the show from leasing and ride-share companies in the U.S. and Europe, but had only just started taking public reservations during CES 2023 with plans to rollout the 2 in late 2025. The biggest news about the 2 was its low starting price. While the Zero rang up to as much as $250,000, the 2 will start at just under $40,000 for a vehicle that, according to Lightyear, will be able to drive up to 500 miles while still using the solar array that makes up its roof, hood, and rear decklid.
Now, with 40,000 individual reservations after CES and over 20,000 pre-orders from fleets, it was enough to make Lightyear end production of the Zero and push up the production timeline of the 2. In the aforementioned release, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear Lex Hoefsloot said, “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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