Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has made its second major investment in a US electric vehicles maker, striking a $1bn deal to provide much-needed financing for Tesla-rival Lucid Motors on Monday. The move comes just weeks after the Financial Times revealed the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the state vehicle being used by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to overhaul his nation’s economy, had built a near 5 percent stake in Elon Musk’s car group Tesla.
The PIF said the deal would provide funding to help Lucid launch its first electric vehicle in 2020, ending months of speculation over whether the private Silicon Valley-based company would be able to secure the backing needed to allow further development of its products. Lucid is one of a handful of electric car start-ups trying to model themselves on Tesla, though they are years behind and, in several cases, struggling to raise cash. The company, which was founded in 2007 as Atieva, says its mission is to “inspire the adoption of sustainable energy by creating the most captivating electric vehicles, centred around the human experience”.
Sam Weng, its chief executive and co-founder, was formerly an executive at software company Oracle. Lucid’s chief technology officer, Peter Rawlinson, was previously the chief engineer for Tesla’s Model S. Copying the game plan of the Model S, Lucid’s first car, called the Air, is a high-end sedan designed to reach production capacity of about 50,000 a year, acting as a showcase for the company’s brand and technology as it tries to open a wider market.