Tesla rival Lucid Motors wants to build factory in Saudi Arabia

California-based Lucid Motors is developing its first model, the Air, which it hopes to sell for more than $100,000 - the firm also wishes to open a factory in Saudi Arabia
Updated 21 February 2019
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Tesla rival Lucid Motors wants to build factory in Saudi Arabia

  • Lucid Motors eyes production plant in Kingdom after raising more than $1bn from the Public Investment Fund
  • California-based electric-car maker hopes to sell first vehicles for more than $100,000 

LONDON: A US-based electric-vehicle company that raised more than $1 billion from Saudi Arabia wants to build a factory in the Kingdom, and says its mission to build “the best car in the world” is well underway. 

The California-based Lucid Motors is developing its first model, the Air, which it hopes to sell for more than $100,000 when it enters production in less than two years’ time. 

Financial backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), announced last year, will allow Lucid to proceed with the development of the all-electric sedan, as well as fund the $240 million cost of building the first phase of its factory in the US.

Peter Rawlinson, chief technology officer at Lucid Motors — and a former engineer at rival Tesla — said the company wants to eventually build a production plant in Saudi Arabia, and sees a “long-term” partnership with the Kingdom.

“I can see a really bright future, with a tangible manufacturing facility or facilities,” Rawlinson told Arab News.

“We’d love to do that … We’re currently in a period where we are investigating all these options. 

“There is a vision that there will be some sort of production facility in the future.”

Rawlinson added that it is “early days” for such a plan, but said he sees many opportunities for electric vehicles in Saudi Arabia — not least, because of the abundant sunshine and potential for solar power.

“We are undertaking the appropriate studies, but I’m really excited about the potential of this. This partnership is huge for us; we can benefit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a significant, meaningful and long-term manner,” he said. 

“One of the great assets of the Kingdom is its endless reserves of sunshine, and how that can be harvested with solar energy. We’re a battery-storage technology company; that’s a way we could contribute. We’re exploring a number of avenues along those lines.”

Lucid is positioning itself in the luxury market, and Rawlinson said its Air model is looking to compete with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Lucid Air is the company’s first car, but Rawlinson said an initial public offering (IPO) could be on the cards to develop future models.

The engineer brushed off the idea of a competitive threat from Elon Musk’s Tesla, where he once worked as chief engineer for the Model S.

“We don’t see Tesla as a key, direct competitor. We see the German gasoline cars — the petrol engine cars … as our core competitive set,” he said. 

“I’ve spoken to many people … who would gladly buy an electric car but say they’re not going to give up their Mercedes-Benz to buy a Tesla because of the interior. You’ve only got to step inside a Tesla to realize it’s not true luxury.”


Kuwaiti equities to be in main MSCI emerging markets index

Updated 6 min 53 sec ago
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Kuwaiti equities to be in main MSCI emerging markets index

DUBAI: MSCI plans to upgrade Kuwaiti equities to its main emerging markets index in 2020, a move that could trigger billions of dollars of inflows from passive funds.
The index compiler will include the MSCI Kuwait index in the emerging market index in the May 2020 semi-annual index review.
MSCI, the world’s largest index provider, whose emerging-market group of indexes has about $1.8 trillion of assets tied to it, also said it would start a consultation on reclassifying the MSCI Iceland Index to Frontier Markets status. It said it would announce the results of this by Nov. 29.
Kuwait’s Market Development Project was implementing several regulatory and operational enhancements in the Kuwaiti equity market, said Sebastien Lieblich, global head of equity solutions and chairman of the MSCI Equity Index Committee.
MSCI expects Kuwait to introduce more reforms before the end of 2019, such as introducing omnibus accounts that would allow foreign investors to trade while remaining anonymous, offering the same privileges that local investors now have.
The Kuwaiti capital market regulator has announced plans for such facilities to be available to the wider market by November, Arqaam Capital said. “These enhancements have significantly increased the accessibility level of the Kuwaiti equity market for international institutional investors,” Lieblich said.
The Kuwaiti market has outperformed markets in the Middle East this year in anticipation of the MSCI move.
The benchmark premier index is up about 20 percent so far this year. It was down 0.5% in early trade on Wednesday.
“MSCI EM inclusion could represent the biggest ever liquidity event for Kuwait’s stock market,” said Salah Shamma, head of investment MENA at Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity, adding that a 0.5 percent representation in the MSCI EM index could attract investor flows of about $10 billion.