Dutch solar car Lightyear finds new millions to reboot

Dutch solar carmaker Lightyear, declared bankrupt by the court in January, has managed to find eight more millions with mostly private investors, a group of 225 people around Amsterdam entrepreneur Arnoud Aalbersberg.

This might enable the company to reboot if an agreement can be found with the curators to focus on the Lightyear 2 family car with 100 of the 620 employees who lost their job. The €250.000 Lightyear 0 of which just a handful was produced by Valmet Automotive in Finland, is dead and buried.

Even with the astronomic price tag, the Dutch start-up lost money on every Lightyear 0 produced. That led to the bankruptcy of the part of the company that actually had the car built in Finland.

Holding the patents

The holding company, Atlas Technology Owners BV, with investments from Swiss Zero Point Holding, the Dutch government, funeral insurance company Dela, and Swedish sports carmaker Koenigsegg, survived.

They hold the patents on the solar technology and the electric motors incorporated into the wheels and the rights to the Lightyear name. They agreed to reboot the project of the solar car and will get shares in the new company, like the group of private investors around Aalbersberg.

Losing their €80 million already invested

These people who invested over €80 million in the company and saw their money likely to vanish with the bankruptcy will get a seat on the supervisory board. Aalbersberg said they want to be able to push some buttons defining the company’s future.

That future will entirely depend on the ability to market the family solar car Lightyear 2. Finding potentially interested clients wasn’t an issue so far. This one, a more compact ‘grid-independent’ sedan with integrated solar panels and a range of +800 km, got an ‘affordable’ target price of €40 000.

No timing set

At CES in Las Vegas, the company was still confident production of the Lightyear 2 would start at the end of 2025. The company managed to attract 40 000 orders from private buyers while leasing company Arval signed for 10 000 units and LeasePlan for another 20 000.

The free and non-binding waiting list guaranteed people a ranking when ordering opens. Still, timing other than that the car is expected in 2025, one year later than initially suggested, has never been communicated. A new timing is not in sight, nor who will build the Lightyear 2. So, starting delivering in 2025 becomes very unlikely.

First, the curator must approve a reboot; then, experts estimate Lightyear will need more than a billion euros in new funds to set up mass production. To be continued, likely.



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