Lucid Motors is in talks to build an electric-car factory near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg first reported Thursday. This would be Lucid’s second factory, alongside the Arizona plant that is scheduled to start churning out Air luxury sedans this spring.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia sounds like one of the last places on earth for an EV plant, but under King Abdullah II the nation has looked to diversify, using oil revenue to invest in other industries. It’s an acknowledgement by the Saudi government that fossil fuels won’t be a sustainable business forever.
In 2018, Lucid raised more than $1 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which helped restart development of the Air after other sources of funding dried up. Lucid owes the PIF for coming through and allowing the company to get to its present state, with a factory finished and a first vehicle fully developed and production-ready, something the company acknowledged in a statement.
“Lucid Motors is committed to a presence in the Middle East, and in Saudi Arabia in particular, and we are working closely with our partners at the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to accelerate the adoption and global availability of Lucid’s exclusive electric vehicle and sustainability technologies,” the company confirmed to Green Car Reports. “Our focus continues to be bringing the Lucid Air to production in Spring of this year.”
Lucid’s manufacturing chief, Peter Hochholdinger, was formerly the executive in charge of ramping up Model 3 production at Tesla. Now Hochholdinger might be charged with running two factories on different continents.
The automaker already has its sights set beyond the Air sedan, to an SUV it’s calling Project Gravity. Scheduled to debut in 2023, the SUV will ride on the same platform as the Air, production of which is expected to have fully ramped up by then. In a Q&A following the late-2020 unveiling of the Air, Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson promised a “beguiling range of cars,” hinting that additional models are in the works.