US-based Lucid Motors on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for its first-ever electric car plant outside the US at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in the Saudi western city of Rabigh.
Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef announced that Saudi Arabia is targeting manufacturing of more than 300,000 cars annually by the year 2030.
He said this during the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday. The electric vehicle giant’s first international plant at KAEC targets manufacturing of 150,000 vehicles per year.
Alkhorayef, who is also chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF), said that Lucid’s choice of Saudi Arabia as the headquarters of its first plant in the Middle East confirms the Kingdom’s competitiveness and its ability to exploit a number of advantages it enjoys.
These advantages are the distinguished geographical location, and the ability to connect with many regional and global markets, in addition to good infrastructure and quality of services. The KAEC plant aims to export more than 85% of its production.
According to the minister, the dossier of the automotive industry in the Kingdom is one of the important files that the national strategy for industry has taken into account as it is one of the complex industries that contribute to the development of supply chains for many products.
“The Kingdom aims to manufacture cars to cover the local demand and export globally. The volume of spending on cars in the Kingdom during the year 2020 reached nearly SR40 billion while the size of the Saudi market exceeds more than half a million cars annually, which represents 50% of the Gulf market,” he said.
He noted that the SIDF has provided financing for the construction of the Lucid plant, with a value of more than SAR5 billion.
Alkhorayef said that the establishment of a new manufacturing center for Lucid company in Saudi Arabia comes in line with the Kingdom's directions aimed at diversifying the economic base, especially the development of the industrial sector.
Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that the Lucid project is vital in its investment value, the added value that will result from it, and its impact on the balance of payments, by increasing exports, contributing to environmental transformation, and reducing carbon emissions from the Kingdom.
Al-Falih added to Asharq Al-Awsat that the most important impact of the project is that it stimulates the value chain in advanced industries. Electric cars are a modern and advanced technology, and they are evolving. He explained that Lucid is known for being the best in this field, in terms of vehicle efficiency, batteries, and the technologies they contain and transport.
“The expected impact will affect industries other than the automobile industry, because it will also stimulate scientific research, product development, and the associated supply chains of basic materials, whether the industries of metals, iron, aluminum and plastics,” said Al-Falih.
For his part, Lucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson said that a new and important stage in Lucid’s journey to stimulate the adoption of sustainable energy technologies and solutions was launched with the new factory in Saudi Arabia.
“The new manufacturing facility is starting to support this trend from its headquarters in Saudi Arabia,” said Rawlinson.
“We are pleased to collaborate with the Public Investment Fund and the Saudi government on agreements to support our shared vision in the field of global sustainability,” he added.
The Saudi government had agreed to buy between 50,000 and 100,000 electric vehicles within ten years from Lucid Motors, which is part-owned by Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), the Ministry of Finance said in a press statement in September 2021.
The agreement is part of the Vision 2030 plan to diversify away from fossil fuels and create a more sustainable society.
Lucid currently manufactures cars at a plant in Arizona and the KAEC plant would assemble its electric vehicles. The factory is expected to eventually build up to 150,000 electric vehicles per year.
Both factories will build the new vehicles ordered by the Saudi government. The KAEC plant will provide thousands of jobs for Saudis. PIF owns 61 % of the California-headquartered Lucid company.