Money woes mean solar car firm Lightyear’s 600 workers expected to lose jobs
The bankruptcy of Lightyear’s subsidiary, Atlas Technologies, is essentially the bankruptcy of the solar electric car manufacturer itself, said Reinoud van Oeijen, the bankruptcy curator appointed to oversee the situation. Not only will almost all of the 600 employees lose their jobs at Lightyear, which is based in Helmond, the development of their mass production model Lightyear 2 is also part of the holdings.
Van Oeijen said he will now look to restart the business with a focus on the Lightyear 2 model. He wants to speak with several potential partners in the coming days, including VDL, which owns the Nedcar automotive factory in Born.
“Even before the bankruptcy, the company had spoken with various parties about a collaboration. I also came across the name VDL. It is therefore obvious to start talking to VDL,” said Van Oeijen, who indicated that several interested parties have already been identified as takeover candidates. “What I’m going to do in the next few days is see how serious those interests are.”
The media has been speculating for some time about a possible partnership between VDL and Lightyear. This is because Nedcar will be without a fixed client next year, making the production of solar cars in the Limburg factory an interesting prospect. A VDL spokesperson was only willing to say that the company never makes any statements about potential clients they may or may not be dealing with in negotiations and deals.
Production of Lightyear’s first car, the Lightyear 0, started in Finland at the end of November as part of deal with a company there. In the end, only a handful of finished units rolled off the line, and the company suddenly stopped production of this expensive model earlier this week. This should allow the company to fully focus on the cheaper Lightyear 2, for which Lightyear said there was a great deal of interest from both leasing companies and private consumers.
However, Van Oeijen pointed out that the interest in Lightyear 2 has not advanced beyond buyers who signaled their intent, as no money has changed hands. The immediate reason for the bankruptcy is that the company was no longer able to pay staff salaries, he said. He intends to further investigate how this situation came about.
What the trustee also has to find out is to what extent Lightyear’s intellectual property rights also fall under the bankruptcy. The holding company and a sister company, Lightyear Layer, which makes solar panels in Venray, have not been declared bankrupt.
For the time being, Van Oeijen has asked the staff there to continue working as usual.
“That is to maximize the chance of a re-start.” They do not have to worry about their salary, because their payments have been taken over by benefits agency UWV for the time being.
FNV union leader Karel-Jan Kivits was very disappointed with the news. Because Lightyear is still a young company, he had not yet made contact with them. The union will still reach out to workers who are expected to lose their jobs to help them find work, he said.