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Dutch EV pioneer aims to generate buzz in Sharjah

The Lightyear facility at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park will boost university research exchange programmes on solar-powered EVs
  • Lightyear Zero charged by the sun, gaining 70km of range per day
  • The launch positions UAE on frontline of sustainable mobility

Lightyear, the Dutch startup that launched the world’s first long-range production-ready solar electric vehicle earlier this month, has picked the UAE for its first overseas expansion.

The company said it will be opening testing facilities and a sales office at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), the first such facility outside the Netherlands.

The two parties will collaborate on a range of activities, including setting up testing facilities and sales and service partnerships across the region. 

In addition, Lightyear and SRTI Park will boost university research exchange programmes on solar-powered EVs and work on policy initiatives to support governments in creating incentives for electric vehicles, including solar-extended EVs.

On May 30, the company launched Lightyear Zero, a revolutionary car that can be charged by the sun as well as regular household plugs. 

Charging on-the-go, it gains up to 70km of range per day from the sun alone. Production is expected in the fall, with the first batch of cars to be delivered to customers in Europe in November. Test drives are set to begin imminently.

Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear, said: “We look forward to collaborate with SRTIP to push further innovation into solar electric vehicles. The GCC region is of strategic importance for our company.”

Six years after beginning life as a car racing team, the revolutionary Lightyear Zero is under production and requires only 1500 kWh per year, making it twice more efficient than the Tesla model S, the equivalent in its category. For the average commuter, Lightyear estimates that the car requires up to five times less charging.

Lightyear’s entry into the EV market comes at a time when it is estimated the total EV transition for Europe would cost over 80 billion euros, of which over 50 billion euros are estimated to be used for the charging infrastructure. 

Lightyear said that with its innovations, dependence on charging infrastructure would be mitigated, thus accelerating EV transition at drastically lower costs.

Building, Office Building, CitySupplied
Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park

SRTI Park has been attracting global innovation-driven companies that are conducting R&D in vital sectors such as transportation, vertical farming, hydrogen energy and 3D printing.

Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, said: “This is an exciting moment for SRTI Park, which was set up to turn Sharjah into a hub for cutting-edge innovation, R&D, higher education and university-level research. 

“We are delighted to add Lightyear to our list of global innovators. Lightyear figures in the same league as Tesla, Rivian and Lucid as one of the innovation pioneers in the EV industry.”

He added: “Having Lightyear at the SRTI Park boosts the UAE’s position as a nation on the frontline of the transition to sustainable mobility, and in doing so, contributes to combating climate change through innovative technologies.

“The UAE is already the world’s third largest producer of solar power, making it the perfect place to test and prove Lightyear’s solar extender solutions for EVs.”

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, also hailed Lightyear’s decision to set up its first base outside the Netherlands at SRTI Park.

She said: “The UAE has created a holistic innovation ecosystem that helps companies develop and scale up trailblazing solutions.

“Today, it is a hub for top-notch competencies and scientific innovations, particularly those related to clean energy. This complements our nation’s efforts to combat global warming and contribute to collective climate action, and aligns with the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative.”

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