Lightyear tries to claw back from bankruptcy as new company using Solar EV tech as collateral

Less than a month after declaring bankruptcy, the remaining team at Lightyear has announced plans for a new company entirely focused on getting its short-lived Lightyear 2 into production. The solar EV startup says it has raised a “solid capital base” from a community of investors to continue solar EV development, but at the risk of its intellectual property (IP) as collateral.

2023 has been a tough year for solar electric vehicle startups thus far, particularly Netherlands-based Lightyear. In late December we were celebrating the start of production for the startup’s flagship Lightyear 0 in Finland.

A month later, the company had officially opened a wait list for its second, much more affordable and mass produced Lightyear 2 solar EV. We even got to see it up close at CES. Within three weeks of that event however, Lightyear announced it was halting all production of the 0 to focus on its second model.

A few days later, Lightyear announced it had officially filed and been approved for bankruptcy, relinquishing its business to Holla legal & tax in the Netherlands as trustee. It seemed the Sun had set on Lightyear following the bankruptcy news, but a new day has dawned on the startup in the form of a relaunch powered by fresh capital investments.

Lightyear was is could be onto something big if it can actually deliver its mass market solar EV to consumers, but will this investment be enough to get going again? Or is Lightyear kicking the monocrystalline silicon solar can down the road and simply delaying bankruptcy part deux?

Lightyear fights bankruptcy with 8M euros in single a day

“Mission continued.” Those are the words that top an email to subscribers, reservation holders, and wait listers sent this morning that announced its plans for a relaunch. To combat its approval bankruptcy filing, Lightyear states it will continue its mission to deliver the 2 to customers by forming a new company. Lightyear founder Lex Hoefsloot spoke:

This is great news. All involved worked relentlessly to secure the continuation of our mission. We kept the interests of all stakeholders at heart during this process. We realize that the impact on our employees, investors, clients and suppliers is significant, but we tried to find the best way forward for everyone.

Lightyear may be back, but probably not for everyone. Much of the laid-off staff at Lightyear version 1.0 is staring down unemployment as early as next week and although the 2.0 version apparently has cash, it will more than likely need to stay as lean and nimble as possible as it seeks additional funding.

Speaking of funding, the capital raise was lead by Individual Investors Group (IIG) who helped facilitate the relaunch by raising enough funding to act as a base for the new company. IIG initiator Arnoud Aalbersberg elaborated:

I am relieved that we were able to facilitate this relaunch by raising 8 million euros in one day amongst investors who embarked on this adventure from the start. This shows our strong belief in building solar electric cars with reduced dependency on the power grid for a wider audience.

Clearly the investors at IIG believe in Lightyear and its solar EV technology, and they’re not alone in that belief that this could one day become one of the most sustainable ways to travel around the world. However, those savvy investors aren’t going to simply throw money at Lightyear to get it out of bankruptcy; they require a little security in the form of the technology itself.

Lightyear states that as part of the capital raise, its intellectual property will be brought over to the new version of the company as collateral for all stakeholders. Invest-NL, who was leading the consortium of former IP pledge holders, has agreed to accommodate the move for Lightyear 2.0.

It’s exciting to see Lightyear taking one last swing for the fences to try and successfully scale, but the financial deck is stacked against it, and there’s a chance we’re talking bankruptcy again in the future. Let’s hope not, for the future of solar EVs – especially sleek, aerodynamic ones like the Lightyear 2.

Lightyear says it is currently working out all the details with all parties involved in its rebirth, including the bankruptcy trustee. We are sure to learn more soon.

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