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.”