Would-be Tesla Rival Lucid Motors Nets Saudi Cash, Readies Production
The Saudi Arabian investment fund Tesla CEO Elon Musk hoped to tap has instead showered all over Silicon Valley startup Lucid Motors. On Monday, the California automaker announced a $1 billion deal with Saudi Arabia, with the investment going towards the final stages of development, and production, of the Air — an upscale electric five-door expected to come to market in 2020.
The cash should cover the construction of an Arizona production facility the fledgling automaker couldn’t afford to build. Suffice it to say, the domestic, independent car scene just became a little more interesting.
In a statement, the automaker said the $1 billion agreement the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) “represents a major milestone for Lucid and will provide the company with the necessary funding to commercially launch its first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air, in 2020.”
With this influx of Saudi dollars, Lucid plans to “complete engineering development and testing of the Lucid Air, construct its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, begin the global rollout of its retail strategy starting in North America, and enter production for the Lucid Air.”
Both Lucid and PIF waxed on about their shared goal to create a luxury car company in Silicon Valley with a global reach. We’ve covered the shapely Air from many angles before. Lucid’s goal is to offer the vehicle at an attainable (premium) starting price, then go nuts. The sky’s the limit with this vehicle, with some early buzz placing the performance ceiling at somewhere near 1,000 horsepower, and a range of up to 400-plus miles.
Reserving an Air involves filling out an online form and handing over a refundable deposit of $2,500.
“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,” a spokesman for PIF said.
Tesla, the dominant player in the field, attempted to go private last month based on conversations with the Saudis, but nothing ever came of it. Musk pulled a U-turn and, for a myriad of reasons, watched his stock plunge. It’s worth noting that Lucid’s chief technology officer, Peter Rawlinson, was once chief engineer for the Tesla Model S. Rawlinson jumped ship in 2013.
Joining Rawlinson in developing the Air is Lucid’s design VP, Derek Jenkins, formerly of Mazda and Audi. Jenkins joined the company in 2015.
[Images: Lucid Motors]
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