Lucid Motors to expand Saudi presence, scouting retail locations

Lucid Motors to expand Saudi presence, scouting retail locations
Peter Rawlinson, CEO of Lucid Motors, the Californian electric vehicle (EV) carmaker part-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 January 2021

Lucid Motors to expand Saudi presence, scouting retail locations

Lucid Motors to expand Saudi presence, scouting retail locations
  • PIF-backed American carmaker keen to help develop Kingdom’s solar power capabilities
  • Rawlinson said the $1 billion investment by the Kingdom’s PIF was “vital” in allowing the company to move forward with its larger vision to manufacture an affordable, efficient and sustainable transportation

CHICAGO: Lucid Motors, the Californian electric vehicle (EV) carmaker part-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), is scouting out locations for retail sales outlets in the Kingdom, CEO Peter Rawlinson told Arab News.

The cutting-edge manufacturer of high-end EVs broke ground on a manufacturing center in Arizona last year and is due to start full production on its first vehicles in spring 2021.

Although many compare Lucid to Tesla, Rawlinson called Lucid the first EV to compete with traditional luxury manufacturers such as Mercedes, BMW and Porsche. Lucid is on track, he said, to provide more affordable models that will offer higher mileage and nearly double the voltage capacity offered by Tesla.

Rawlinson said the $1 billion investment by the Kingdom’s PIF was “vital” in allowing the company to move forward with its larger vision to manufacture an affordable, efficient and sustainable transportation that will eventually replace gasoline-based vehicles.

“We are reciprocating, and we are going to do something amazing with PIF in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, and that will be very much in line with Vision 2030 to really reduce their economy’s dependence upon fossil fuels,” Rawlinson said.

“I think sunshine will last future generations longer than oil. And if they can leverage that sunshine with the energy-storage solutions that Lucid Technologies can provide, linked to our cars and our automotive technology, we are going to do something huge in the Kingdom, and hopefully, we are going to make an announcement regarding those plans very soon.”




Lucid Motors, the Californian electric vehicle (EV) carmaker part-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), broke ground on a manufacturing center in Arizona last year and is due to start full production on its first vehicles in Spring 2021. (Supplied)

PIF announced its investment in Lucid Motors in September 2018. “By investing in the rapidly expanding electric vehicle market, 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 fund said in a statement at the time.

The carmaker has also partnered with the fund to train young Saudis and give them exposure to the innovative vehicles the company is developing. “PIF strongly believes in actively engaging with youth to develop our Kingdom’s sustainable future. Since 2019, our internship partnership with Lucid Motors has trained the future innovators of our economy,” PIF said in a tweet on Sept. 2.

In terms of the carmaker’s immediate partnership with the Kingdom, the CEO said his teams are scrutinizing possible locations in Saudi Arabia to open retail outlets — what Lucid calls “Studios” — for their luxury EVs.

“We are already looking,” he said. “My retail team just returned from a scouting trip in the Kingdom, and that is very much on the road there. Hopefully, we can get a retail outlet there right at the tail end of 2021, probably early 2022.”

Rawlinson said a major priority is to address the public’s concerns over affordability and “range anxiety,” noting that Lucid’s vehicles offer as much as 517 miles on a charge. He said Lucid will bring down costs through efficiencies and technology improvements focused, in part, on improving the battery performance and reducing battery size.

“The key is to achieve range through efficiency. That means how far I can go for a given amount of energy. It’s like miles per gallon for a gasoline car. And the best metric for measuring that is miles per kilowatt-hour,” he explained.

“We are able to get over four-and-one-half miles per kilowatt-hour, and that is extraordinary. That is a measure of our technology. We are achieving our over 500-mile range through our tech and not just through the size of our battery pack, and that is a big difference.”

He envisions a time when costs could drop as low as $25,000 a vehicle and the availability of EV charging stations could resemble the gasoline station construction boom that followed the launch of the first gasoline-powered vehicles at the turn of the 20th century. The current Lucid Air models range between $69,900 and $161,500.

Rawlinson said that Tesla, where he worked previously, has done an “amazing job” in focusing the market’s attention to EVs as the future for personal and business transportation.

“They are in the pre-eminent position here. What has surprised me and disappointed me is the reluctance of traditional car companies and the rest of the industry to rise to this challenge to take the baton and to proceed,” Rawlinson said, emphasizing that Lucid is not competing with Tesla. “I don’t actually think we are directly competing with Tesla, although a lot of the media likes to portray it that way. There is an inevitability about that.

“Right now, Tesla is running six years ahead of the competition. And it befalls Lucid to take up this challenge. That’s one of the reasons we are here, that’s why I am doing what I am doing.”


Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months
Updated 30 min 50 sec ago

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months
  • Program aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises still struggling due to the pandemic
  • More than 106,000 contracts have benefited since it was launched in March 2020 with a value of approximately SR167 billion

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) announced on Tuesday that it is extending a deferred payment program for a second time to help support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are still struggling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
SAMA said the program — one of the bank’s initiatives to support private sector financing — will be extended for another three months from July 1 through Sept. 30.
The move is part of SAMA’s role in maintaining the stability of the financial sector, enabling it to promote economic growth and maintain employment levels in the private sector, especially within micro enterprises and other SMEs.
More than 106,000 contracts have benefited from the program since it was launched in March 2020 while the value of the deferred payments for those contracts has amounted to approximately SR167 billion ($44.5 billion).
SAMA has also offered a secured financing program for SMEs as more than 5,282 contracts have benefited from that program with a total financing value of more than SR10 billion, the bank said in a statement.
These programs are meant to support the private sector and the levels of liquidity in the financial sector. They enable financing agencies to provide support while mitigating the economic and financial effects on the SME sector, the bank said.
This is the second time SAMA has extended the two programs to support SMEs. It renewed the deferred payment program for three months last March, while it also extended the guaranteed financing program for an additional year until March 14, 2022.


Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats
Updated 22 June 2021

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats
  • Living in the Lebanese capital as an expat has now become more expensive than living in Tokyo, Zurich, or Shanghai

DUBAI: Beirut has become the most expensive city for expats in the Middle East and North Africa region, and the third globally, based on the latest “Cost of Living” survey by consultancy Mercer.
Jumping 42 places in global rankings, Beirut has been at the center of Lebanon’s economic and political collapse, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the port explosion last year.
Living in the Lebanese capital as an expat has now become more expensive than living in Tokyo, Zurich, or Shanghai. Turkmenistan’s Ashgabat ranked first, in the list of most expensive cities for expatriates, followed by Hong Kong.
Mercer comes up with the annual list by comparing the cost of more than 200 items in each city, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
Riyadh has become the most expensive city in the Gulf at 29th globally. Jeddah ranked 94th, the report showed.
Dubai dropped to 42nd in the list, down from 23rd last year, and Abu Dhabi ranked 56th from 39th a year earlier.
Other cities in the Gulf also became more affordable this year, the report revealed, with Bahrain dropping to 71st from 52nd, while Muscat fell to 108th from 96th. Kuwait City dropped two places to 115th and Qatar at 21 places to 130th.


Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work
Updated 22 June 2021

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work
  • Remote work can now be done under normal circumstances, the department said

DUBAI: Dubai Municipality has become the first government agency in the UAE to approve job titles for remote work, state news agency WAM has reported.
Remote work can now be done under normal circumstances, the department said, parallel to its other work setups such as its shifting system.
The move comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has made private, and even public, workplaces rethink ways to continue their operations despite the crisis.
Workplace innovation is not new to Dubai Municipality, as it pioneered flexible work systems for government departments in the UAE in 2007.
The pandemic has also made the municipality accelerate its smart transformation, to make the remote work system effective.


Mubadala-owned GlobalFoundries invests $6bn amid worldwide chip shortage

Mubadala-owned GlobalFoundries invests $6bn amid worldwide chip shortage
Updated 22 June 2021

Mubadala-owned GlobalFoundries invests $6bn amid worldwide chip shortage

Mubadala-owned GlobalFoundries invests $6bn amid worldwide chip shortage
  • Tuesday’s expansion is in addition to the company’s previously announced plan to invest $1.4 billion in 2021 alone to expand its manufacturing capacity

SINGAPORE: Chipmaker GlobalFoundries said on Tuesday it will spend $6 billion to expand capacity at its factories in Singapore, Germany and the United States amid a chip shortage that is hurting automakers and electronics firms globally.
The US-based company, owned by Abu Dhabi’s state-owned fund Mubadala, said it will invest more than $4 billion in Singapore, and $1 billion each in the others over the next two years. The unlisted company’s Singapore operations contribute about a third of its revenue.
“I think the next five to eight years, we’re going to be chasing supply not demand as an industry,” GlobalFoundries CEO Thomas Caulfield told a media briefing. He added that the company was prioritising automotive customers.
Tuesday’s expansion is in addition to the company’s previously announced plan to invest $1.4 billion in 2021 alone to expand its manufacturing capacity.
The chip shortage, which began in earnest in late December, was caused in part by automakers miscalculating demand for semiconductors in the pandemic. It was aggravated by electronics manufacturers placing more chip orders as work-from-home practices fueled a surge in sales of computers and other devices.
Large chipmakers including Intel Corp. have warned that the shortage will last well into next year. Intel announced in March a $20 billion plan to expand its advanced chip making capacity, while Taiwan’s TSMC said in April it will invest $100 billion over the next three years.
As well, governments, including those of the United States and Japan, have intervened to urge faster supplies. Earlier this month, the United States approved $54 billion in funds to increase US production and research into semiconductors and telecom equipment.
Caulfield said funding for GlobalFoundries’ expansion plan included investments from governments and pre-payments from customers.
The $4 billion investment in Singapore is the first of a phased expansion program planned by the company for the next five to 10 years, the CEO said. He did not specify a total amount.
The new Singapore fab will add capacity of 450,000 wafers per year, taking the campus’s total to 1.5 million, and the company expects to begin production in early 2023. Most of the added production will come online by end 2023.
The factory will make chips for cars and 5G technology, with long-term customer agreements already in place. It will add about 1,000 jobs in Singapore.


Sudan to abolish official customs dollar exchange rate

Sudan to abolish official customs dollar exchange rate
Updated 22 June 2021

Sudan to abolish official customs dollar exchange rate

Sudan to abolish official customs dollar exchange rate
  • The customs dollar exchange rate has been problematic for importers historically as it has valued the local currency at a higher rate

RIYADH: Sudan has taken the decision to abolish the official customs dollar exchange rate, Asharq Business reported, citing unnamed sources.
Sudan’s Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim earlier pledged that the government was committed to canceling the so-called customs exchange rate used to determine import duties. It comes amid ongoing fiscal reforms that have been encouraged by the International Monetary Fund and other donors.
The customs dollar exchange rate has been problematic for importers historically as it has valued the local currency at a higher rate than reflected by the black market.
Ibrahim said the government would press ahead with its liberalization program until the country’s economy recovered from previous distortions.
He also said that the subsidy for wheat, cooking gas and fuel oil that is used in the production of electricity will not be canceled this year.
Devaluing the currency is one of a number of economic reforms that Sudan hopes will help it emerge from an enduring economic crisis.