Lucid Turns to Saudi Arabia for Future EV Factory

The electric automaker’s first plant outside of the U.S. is set to produce 155,000 vehicles annually.

byKristin V. Shaw| PUBLISHED May 20, 2022 12:57 PM
Lucid Turns to Saudi Arabia for Future EV Factory
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Since 2016 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been advancing its Vision 2030 plan, touted as a strategic roadmap for its economy and people. Led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the program is an ambitious attempt (overly so, say critics) to shift the kingdom’s narrative from an oil-dependent, conservative country to a modern, open society thriving through a diverse economy, including green initiatives.

"Diverse," "green," and "modern" are concepts (or words) that don't seem to fit Saudi Arabia as many know it, but the country is showing signs it will walk the walk beyond mere platitudes. At least, that is, on the business side. This week, Arizona-based electric vehicle company Lucid announced that its first factory outside of the U.S. would be in the Middle East country, and the Kingdom will provide financing and incentives up to $3.4 billion over the next 15 years.

Lucid is currently equipped to produce more than 350,000 units per year in the U.S. The new plant would add another 155,000 units annually. On paper, it’s a smart move for Lucid, which is making waves in the luxury EV market. Lucid executives like CEO Peter Rawlinson are exuberant, proclaiming the benefits of pairing with an unlikely business partner.

“That means we can accelerate plans to produce half a million cars a year from what was going to be 2030 to mid decade,” Rawlinson told CNBC this week.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of investment, Khalid al-Falih, has indicated this is just the beginning of its burgeoning EV initiatives. The Kingdom has set its sights on EV battery manufacturers and suppliers, citing the potential for solar power in this sunny, hot region of the world.

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“I believe it unleashes the whole industry of electric vehicles here in the kingdom, our intent is not to stop with Lucid,” he told CNBC. “We have other EV manufacturers that are in advanced discussions with us that will follow in the footsteps of Lucid.”

Lucid’s first production car is the Air, which starts at $77,400 and comes with a single-motor system making 480 horsepower. The Air has an EPA-estimated range of 406 miles, and upgrading to the Dream Edition Performance model claims 520 miles of range. Performance numbers are impressive at the top of the trim level with 1,111 horsepower. Early reviews of the vehicle are positive, and the company is poised for major growth. If it can succeed in Saudi Arabia without giving up its edge, it will be a big move for both Lucid and the Kingdom.

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