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

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.”


Fawaz Alhokair’s M&S deal in Saudi ends, still partners elsewhere

Updated 1 min 2 sec ago

Fawaz Alhokair’s M&S deal in Saudi ends, still partners elsewhere

  • M&S still has a partnership with Alhokair in Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair said on Wednesday its franchise agreement in the kingdom with British retailer Marks & Spencer had ended, along with similar deals with a number of “non-performing” brands.
Marks & Spencer (M&S) said in an email that its franchised stores in Saudi Arabia were transferred to Al-Futtaim Group in 2018. M&S has 15 franchised stores in Saudi Arabia.
“We are focused on continuing to work with Al-Futtaim Group to develop and grow our business in Saudi Arabia,” M&S told Reuters.
M&S still has a partnership with Alhokair in Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan, according to M&S’s website.
M&S has more than 400 stores outside the United Kingdom, where it is a mainstay of shopping streets with more than 1,000 outlets. Its international business has been struggling, however, with revenues falling 14% and underlying operating profit down 6% in the year ended March 30, 2019.
Alhokair also said on Wednesday it made a first-quarter net profit of 224 million riyals ($60 million), down 10.1% from the same period a year earlier.
The firm, which owns franchise rights for brands including Mango, Zara and Banana Republic in the Middle East, said a decline in sales during the quarter was driven by the closure of non-performing stores and the disposal of weak brands as the group presses ahead with a “portfolio optimization strategy.”