Tesla rival Lucid Motors gets a billion-dollar Saudi cash injection
A major investment through the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is intended provide the capital Lucid Motors needs to complete its Arizona manufacturing facility and get the much-awaited, high-performance electric Lucid Air into production by 2020.
The announcement, from both Lucid and the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, should put to rest any questions about whether Lucid will get the Air over the line and onto the market, and gives a release date that shouldn't be pushed back any further.
It comes after a bizarre month from Tesla, during which Elon Musk made a surprise announcement that he was planning to take Tesla private on the back of Saudi investment, then made an abrupt about-face in a subsequent announcement that the company would stay public for the time being.
The Saudis, riding high on generational oil money, are making considerable efforts to diversify into what the press release calls "future sectors," such as renewable energy, recycling and energy efficiency services. It's part of the Saudi crown's "Vision 2030" plan to reposition Saudi Arabia as a global hub connecting Europe and Africa with Asia, and to look beyond the oil age.
Adding a luxury electric vehicle manufacturer like Lucid to the Public Investment Fund's portfolio – which grew from US$570 billion in 2015 to an enormous $840 billion by 2017 – brings an element of prestige, alongside some green cred. The Air, like Tesla's Model S, will be a premium flagship behind which Lucid will likely look to develop cheaper mass market cars.
It sure looks like an exciting car, though, with the lowest-spec Air ready to undercut the Model S on price, and the highest-spec dual-motor model offering spectacularly silly performance with 1,000 horsepower (746 kW) and an extraordinary 235-mph (378-km/h) top speed that absolutely blows away the Model S P100D's 155-mph (249-km/h) governed maximum. That's not to mention its clean, classy looks and spacious interior.
But if Tesla's forays into mass manufacturing are any indication, there's a tough learning curve ahead of Lucid as it makes the leap into production, and a billion dollars might be just the beginning.