Electric vehicle startups seem to appear every few months, but Lucid Motors now has some serious backing as Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has agreed to invest $1 billion (£759.7 / €855.5 million) into the company.
The investment, which still needs approval from relevant authorities, will pave the way for Lucid Motors to launch its first electric vehicle in 2020. According to the automaker, the money will be used to finish development and testing of the Lucid Air as well as construct a production facility in Casa Grande, Arizona. The remaining funds will then be used to help launch the model in North America.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund said “This investment in the electric vehicle industry, which is currently experiencing rapid growth, is an added value to the Fund’s portfolio which aims to achieve long-term, growing returns.” The spokesperson added the investment should increase revenues for the fund while also diversifying its portfolio.
The money is critical for Lucid Motors as their electric vehicle plans are already behind schedule. When the automaker announced plans to build its factory in Arizona in 2016, the company said groundbreaking would occur in early 2017 and the first models would roll off the assembly line in 2018.
In March of 2017, the company revealed the entry-level Air will have a base price of $52,500 (after federal tax incentives) and a range of 240 miles (386 km) on a single charge. The car will also be rear-wheel drive and have an electric powertrain that produces 400 hp (298 kW / 405 PS).
The Air is slated to come equipped with LED headlights, an aluminum roof and 19-inch alloy wheels. Other highlights will include 12-power front seats, a ten-speaker audio system and three touchscreen displays.
At the time, Lucid’s Director of Marketing said the Air will “provide superior comfort, a better user interface and better performance than comparably priced BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes.”
The company also revealed an assortment of different options will be available including larger battery packs which will enable the model to have a range of 315 miles (506 km) and 400 miles (643 km). Speaking of powertrain options, the automaker said one version of the Air will offer all-wheel drive and up to 1000 hp (745 kW / 1013 PS).