Electric car start-up Lucid Motors has announced that it has secured an excess of $1 billion (around Rs 72.7 crore) funding from the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.
This funding allows the brand to complete the engineering development and testing required to produce the Air – their all-electric sedan – which is due in 2020. It will be built at the company's first factory which will be newly built in Casa Grande, Arizona.
The Air's marketing manager claims that the sedan will mix sports-car handling with the comfort of a luxury sedan. It will be the brand's first model and will be launched in North America first, amidst a strategy which is aimed at making Lucid a global luxury electric car company.
"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," said a spokesman for the PIF.
Saudi Arabian PIF aims to bring revenue back into the country in a world that is moving away from oil and "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." The PIF's investment in Lucid is "a strong example of these objectives.” The Fund's initial investment in Lucid Motors will be $500 million (a little more than Rs 36 crore), with subsequent funding dependent on the carmaker achieving set production milestones.
In 2016, the brand announced its ambition to begin production of the Air – a goal that was pushed back to 2020 in anticipation of raising the necessary funds. The Air exists in prototype form and is a sporting luxury sedan offering a claimed 644km driving range, an output of up to 1,014hp and a 0-100kph time of 2.5sec. The proposed price range for the production-ready is currently $60,000-$1 lakh (approximately Rs 43-73 lakh).
The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund is said to have reserves of around $250 billion and has been investing heavily in order to diversify the country's portfolio away from oil. It has put $45 billion into a multinational technology group (that includes Apple and Qualcomm) that will focus on the development of robotics and artificial intelligence.
Lucid Motors' other tie-ups include a battery supply deal with Samsung and technology development for next-gen Formula E car alongside McLaren and Sony. It was formed in 2007 by Bernard Tse and engineer Sam Weng under the name Atieva. Bernard Tse is a former board member and vice president of Tesla. Its chief technology officer is Peter Rawlinson, a former head engineer at Jaguar, Lotus and Tesla.