Solar-powered cars could be coming to the UAE after the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) established a pact with high-tech company Lightyear.
The Netherlands-based company is developing the world's first solar car, the Lightyear 0.
The vehicle requires only 1,500 kilowatt-hours per year, making it twice more efficient than the Tesla model S, the equivalent in its category, the company said on Thursday.
Lightyear and SRTI Park are “exploring a range of activities to drive sustainable mobility in the region, which could include the establishment of Lightyear testing facilities and sales and service support across the region”, it said.
The parties signed a preliminary agreement and aim to set up university research exchange programmes on solar-powered electric vehicles (EVs), and advance policy initiatives that promote government incentives for EVs, including solar-extended EVs.
“The UAE has created a holistic innovation ecosystem that helps companies develop and scale up trailblazing solutions,” said Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
“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.
“We are pleased by Lightyear’s decision to set up its first base outside the Netherlands at SRTI Park, and wish the company success in its endeavours.”
The Lightyear 0 is production-ready and can drive for months in the summer period before needing to plug into a public charger or household outlet. It has a top speed of 160 kilometres an hour and accelerates from zero to 100kph in 10 seconds.
The first batch of cars is expected to be delivered to customers in Europe in November.
The UAE, as the world's third-largest producer of solar power, is the perfect place to test Lightyear’s patented solar technology, said STRI Park chief executive Hussain Al Mahmoudi.
The UAE announced its road to net zero by 2050 ambitions last year, and plans to invest Dh600 billion ($163.37bn) in clean and renewable energy sources in the next three decades.
The number of available electric cars is on the UAE's roads is increasing. Swedish premium electric car brand Polestar launched the Polestar 2 sedan in the country this year and opened its first dedicated retail outlet in the Emirates.
The Middle East's first refuelling station for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) opened in Dubai in 2017, the same year that the region's first Tesla showroom opened in the city.