Lightyear, a Dutch startup that launched the world's first long-range production-ready solar electric vehicle (solar EV), will set up testing facilities and a sales office at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), it was announced on Wednesday.

The Sharjah facility would be Lightyear’s first outside the Netherlands, SRTI said in a press statement.

It said a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two parties also covers university research exchange programmes, policy initiatives to support governments in creating incentives for solar EVs and fundraising for the development and production of future Lightyear models with the possibility of local manufacturing in Sharjah in the future.

“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,” said Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park.

Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and Co-Founder of Lightyear, added: “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.”

The statement said the production of Lightyear Zero, the company’s first solar EV, is expected start in the fall, with the first batch of cars to be delivered to customers in Europe in November.  

Lightyear Zero requires only 1,500 kWh per year, making it twice more efficient than the Tesla model S, the equivalent in its category, the statement noted.

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, of which over €50 billion are estimated to be used for the charging infrastructure.  With Lightyear’s innovations, dependence on charging infrastructure would be mitigated, thus accelerating EV transition at drastically lower costs, the statement concluded.

(Writing by SA Kader; Editing by Anoop Menon)