US electric car start-up and wannabe Tesla rival, Lucid Motors, has secured the huge $US1 billion investment agreement with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund in another sign electric cars are the future.
The money provides Lucid with enough funding to commercially launch its first electric vehicle, the futuristic-looking Lucid Air by 2020, and underlines the fact the world’s biggest oil producer sees the future is in renewables, and clean transport.
Saudi Arabia is already a big investor in Tesla, reportedly with 5 per cent, and was presumed to be the provider of the funds Elon Musk claimed he had lined up to take the $US50 billion company private. Those plans are now abandoned, and shareholders – particularly the shorts – are suing.
The Saudis, though, clearly see the future. The kingdom is accelerating its investment in renewables to decrease its own reliance on oil for electricity, and presumably now seeing investing in electric vehicles as another means to diversify away from its dependence on oil.
Lucid plans to use the funding to complete engineering development and testing of the Air, construct its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, begin the global rollout of its retail strategy starting in North America, and start production.
“The convergence of new technologies is reshaping the automobile, but the benefits have yet to be truly realized,”Lucid’s Chief Technology Officer Peter Rawlinson said.
“At Lucid, we will demonstrate the full potential of the electric connected vehicle in order to push the industry forward,” said Mr Rawlinson.
The Lucid Air is very much a luxury vehicle in the mould of Tesla’s Model S and there are currently no plans to make cheaper electric cars along the lines of Tesla’s Model 3.
A spokesperson for PIF said, “By investing in the rapidly expanding electric vehicle market, PIF is gaining exposure to long-term growth opportunities, supporting innovation and technological development, and driving revenue and sectoral diversification for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
The spokesperson added, “PIF’s international investment strategy aims to strengthen PIF’s performance as an active contributor in the international economy, an investor in the industries of the future and the partner of choice for international investment opportunities. Our investment in Lucid is a strong example of these objectives.”
Tony Bosworth writes for www.TheDriven.io and RenewEconomy.com.au. He has 35 years experience in journalism, and has been instrumental in launching and editing several automotive magazines including Which Car? magazine in the UK.