Helmond-based Lightyear, a company that manufactures solar-powered cars, has temporarily halted production of its solar car. Instead, it will focus on producing solar roofs for car manufacturers through its subsidiary Lightyear Layer.
The announcement comes as the Dutch company has been unable to find new investors to further develop the solar car, Lightyear 2, since restarting from bankruptcy.
Pivoting business strategy
Talking about the abrupt shift in the company’s business strategy, Lex Hoefsloot, the CEO and Co-founder of Lightyear, tells Silicon Canals, “Over the past couple of months, we have noticed a significant rise in the demand for solar technology across the various industries. With Lightyear Layer we build record-breaking solar arrays that have the highest efficiency and are ready to be mass-produced and thoroughly tested in the harshest environment. We have been successfully talking to different parties for a while, and one of these parties is a big Asian OEM.”
“By taking these developments into account, as well as the lessons learned over the last few months, we have decided to further focus on our core technologies. We will focus on deploying integrated solar systems for cars at scale as these are closest to the market. For the other core technologies (e.g. the inwheel-motors) Lightyear continues to strengthen its collaboration and partnerships strategy to get highly efficient solar vehicles to market. We believe that this stronger focus and stepwise approach will be the fastest way to impact,” Hoefsloot tells Silicon Canals.
Currently, the Dutch company produces solar panels in Venray. It can produce 100,000 solar roofs per year in the factory shared with car roof maker Inalfa. Approximately 20 employees work at Layer.
Sunbo investment, Lightyear 2, and more
Clarifying about the deal, Hoefsloot says, “Sunbo’s investment has not been finalised yet. The news originally leaked and was not communicated via our official communication channels. We are still in the process of rounding off the deal with Sunbo.”
Regarding Lightyear 2, Hoefsloot says the company is actively exploring strategies to revive it, with a firm ambition to introduce highly efficient solar vehicles.
Earlier this year, the company decided to suspend the production of Lightyear 0 after Atlas Technologies BV, which is responsible for the production of Lightyear 0, declared bankruptcy.
In March, the Dutch company announced its plans to set up a new company and raised enough funding to create a solid capital base from the Individual Investors Group (IIG).
As a part of the process, the company also announced that its Intellectual Property (IP) will be brought to the new company as collateral for all stakeholders.
Invest-NL, leading the consortium of former IP pledge holders, agreed to accommodate this for the new company.