PIF’s Lucid unveils new challenge to petrol engine

The latest challenge to conventional petrol-fueled motoring has been launched in the shape of the Lucid Air, a high-performance electric vehicle developed with the financial help of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). (Twitter: @LucidMotors)
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Updated 10 September 2020

PIF’s Lucid unveils new challenge to petrol engine

  • The high-specification saloon car — which boasts fast acceleration, rapid charging capability, and extended driving range — was unveiled at a virtual ceremony at Lucid’s Californian base

DUBAI: The latest challenge to conventional petrol-fueled motoring has been launched in the shape of the Lucid Air, a high-performance electric vehicle developed with the financial help of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

The high-specification saloon car — which boasts fast acceleration, rapid charging capability, and extended driving range — was unveiled at a virtual ceremony at Lucid’s Californian base and will be available in the Middle East from next spring.

Peter Rawlinson, former designer at rival electric vehicle (EV) group Tesla who has overseen the launch of the Air, told Arab News that “the writing is on the wall” for traditional gasoline engines, and promised there were more innovative vehicles in the pipeline, including an SUV to appeal to Middle East markets.

“Lucid Motors is driven to make the electric car better, and by doing so, help move the entire industry forward, toward the accelerated adoption of electric vehicles,” he said.

The PIF paid more than $1 billion for a majority stake in Lucid’s shares two years ago in what was described by Rawlinson as a “strategic financial investment.” At that time, the PIF was also invested in rival Tesla, but has since sold down that interest.

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READ MORE: Reservations open for Lucid Air sports sedan in Saudi Arabia, UAE

Saudi-backed Lucid Motors spells out vision for the future of electric cars

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“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,” the sovereign wealth fund said.

Rawlinson repeated a pledge that he would use Lucid technology and design as the foundation for an EV industry in the Kingdom. “We’d love to do that, to help Saudi Arabia with the genesis of a motor industry. We want to help the Kingdom diversify,” he said, adding that he “would not rule out” further fundraising.

The Air is aimed at the upmarket saloon sector of the motor business. It uses advanced electric engine technology to produce performance superior in many respects to similar internal combustion engines (ICE) in that segment, and miniaturized technology to offer more space and comfort.

The car can accelerate from 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds and has a range of 517 miles (832 kilometers) on a single electric charge. Lucid claims it is the “fastest-charging EV in the world,” adding 20 miles of range in just a 20-minute charge on a fast-charging network, giving 300 miles of range in a 20-minute charge “in real world conditions.”

The Air will be on sale at an entry level price of around $80,000, rising to $169,000 for a limited Dream edition. Rawlinson said the price would fall as production accelerated, and in some parts of the world would be reduced by special government allowances for EV cars.

Derek Jenkins, Lucid’s vice president of design, said: “We are building the best car in the world and the numbers simply speak for themselves.”

Sales of electric cars have been rising rapidly but are still only a small single-digit percentage of the global vehicle market. Last year, they accounted for only 2.6 percent of total car sales, but this was a 40 percent rise over the previous year, according to figures from the International Energy Agency.

Some analysts believe the move to EV will prove to be unstoppable once development and vehicle costs come down and as environmental concerns grow. Some European governments have promised to phase out ICE engines altogether over the next 20 years.

Some experts have seen a surge in EV sales during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic even as sales of conventional vehicles fall because of pressure on consumer finances and a new target of “green recovery.”

Ride hailing giant Tesla said recently it would move to zero emissions for all its cars by 2040.

Rawlinson said the Air would help create a whole new market for EV luxury vehicles. “Tesla is a beautifully engineered product and a disruptive technology, and they are the leaders in electrification by a mile. But they do not do luxury,” he said.


Demand issues ‘to overshadow OPEC+ supply next year’

Updated 29 October 2020

Demand issues ‘to overshadow OPEC+ supply next year’

  • Libya's rising production adding to pressure on oil markets

DUBAI: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will have to contend with a “lot of demand issues” before raising supply in January 2021, given throughput cuts by oil refiners, the head of Saudi Aramco’s trading arm said.
OPEC and its allies plan to raise production by 2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January after record output cuts this year as the coronavirus pandemic hammered demand, taking overall reductions to about 5.7 million bpd. 

“We see stress in refining margins and see a lot of refineries either cutting their refining capacity to 50-60% or a lot of refineries closing,” Ibrahim Al-Buainain said an interview with Gulf Intelligence released on Wednesday.

“I don’t think the (refining) business is sustainable at these rates (refining margins).”

However, Chinese oil demand is likely to remain solid through the fourth quarter and into 2021 as its economy grows while the rest of the world is in negative territory, he added.

Among the uncertainties facing the oil market are rising Libyan output on the supply side and a second wave of global COVID-19 infections, especially in Europe, on the demand side, Al-Buainain said.

Complicating efforts by other OPEC members and allies to curb output, Libyan production is expected to rebound to 1 million bpd in the coming weeks.

Oil prices, meanwhile, fell over 4 percent on Wednesday as surging coronavirus infections in the US and Europe are leading to renewed lockdowns, fanning fears that the unsteady economic recovery will deteriorate.

“Crude oil is under pressure from the increase in COVID-19 cases, especially in Europe,” said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.

Brent futures fell $1.91, or 4.6 percent, to $39.29 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $2.05, or 5.2 percent, to $37.52.

Earlier in the day Brent traded to its lowest since Oct. 2 and WTI its lowest since Oct. 5.

Futures pared losses somewhat after the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said a bigger-than-expected 4.3 million barrels of crude oil was put into storage last week, but slightly less than industry data late Tuesday which showed a 4.6 million-barrel build.

However, crude production surged to its highest since July at 11.1 million barrels per day in a record weekly build of 1.2 million bpd, the data showed.

Gasoline demand has also been weak overall, down 10 percent from the four-week average a year ago. US consumption is recovering slowly, especially as millions of people restrict leisure travel with cases surging nationwide.