Saudi Arabia's reportedly looking to invest in Tesla competitor Lucid — we took its 1,000-horsepower electric luxury sedan for a spin

Lucid MotorsLucid Air electric sedan.
  • Saudi Arabia has been in talks with the electric-car maker Lucid Motors, Reuters reported Sunday.
  • Lucid was founded in 2007 under its former name, Atieva, and the Newark, California-based company began developing its first electric vehicle in 2014. The car, called Lucid Air, debuted in late 2016 as a 1,000-horsepower electric luxury sedan that Lucid said would rival Tesla’s highly successful Model S.
  • Lucid invited Business Insider to check out a nearly finished representation of the car at its headquarters in 2017.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the fund Elon Musk has said could help take Tesla private, is considering an investment in a electric-car maker Lucid Motors, according to Reuters.

The report comes almost two full weeks after the Financial Times first reported the kingdom’s sovereign-wealth fund had bought a 3% to 5% stake in Tesla. Elon Musk then tweeted that funding had been secured to take the electric-car maker private at $US420 a share.

Musk later said he used the phrase “funding secured” because he believed there was “no question” Saudi Arabia’s PIF would provide funding to help take Tesla private. That’s funding’s since come in to question.

Lucid was founded in 2007 under its former name, Atieva, and the Newark, California-based company began developing its first electric vehicle in 2014. The car, called Lucid Air, debuted in late 2016 as a 1,000-horsepower electric luxury sedan that Lucid said would rival Tesla’s highly successful Model S.

The Lucid Air will be the first vehicle out of the company’s stable when it goes into production in 2019, the company said. Lucid invited Business Insider to check out a nearly finished representation of the car at its headquarters earlier this year.

Scroll down to see how it went:


The Lucid Air is almost surreal when seen outside in natural light. It’s not a complete stretch to say it looks like a road-bound spacecraft.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Everything from the windshield forward evokes a nearly seamless aesthetic. It has a quietly commanding presence.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Quiet because it’s electric, of course. The Air will be available with a battery pack that boasts about 240 miles of range on a full charge, or an optional pack that’s expected to deliver up to 400 miles of range.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Here are the headlights in case you missed them.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Let’s move in a little closer.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

The car’s dimensions are deceiving. From certain angles it looks as large as your typical full-size luxury sedan, like a Mercedes S-Class. It’s actually much smaller.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Here’s a disguised Lucid Air prototype sitting between a Mercedes S-Class and a BMW 7 Series.

Lucid Motors

Same car, just inside Lucid Motors’ studio.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Lucid’s design team says the Air’s passenger cabin is larger than the Tesla Model S.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

This 6-foot-2 reporter can confirm. The car is spacious.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

The rear cabin is where the real show is.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Here’s what you use to adjust your seat, which can recline to give you a better view of the sky above. You’ll see that in the video in the next slide.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Check out the all-glass roof below. Business Insider was the first media outlet to ride in the Lucid Air alpha car with the full interior installed.


OK, time to hop in the driver’s seat.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Like most vehicles in this class, the Lucid Air will have autonomous-driving capabilities.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

The Air’s multi-screen driver interface was engineered entirely in-house, with an eye toward seamless, intuitive connectivity.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Final impressions: This one seems different.

Bryan Logan/Business InsiderA view of the Lucid Air outside of Lucid Motors’ headquarters in Menlo Park, California, February 16, 2017.

The Lucid Air and the company that built it seem to be playing by a different rule book from some of its counterparts in the EV startup space.

Lucid Motors has deliberately stayed out of the spotlight, even as other new electric-car companies – for better or worse – actively pursued it. And while other companies tend to traffic in buzzy social media campaigns, sometimes with little evidence of real progress, Lucid remained in stealth mode until it had a real, nearly complete representation of its product to showcase.

As Lucid’s Chief Technology Officer Peter Rawlinson told Business Insider in a previous interview, “We believe we have the next-level electric vehicle – one that is so well-suited to this new era of luxury mobility. I believe in the product and I would rather that product do the talking.” Rawlinson was the chief engineer of the Tesla Model S and has more than three decades of experience in the industry.

Rawlinson said a portion of the money from the Series D round would go toward the company’s plan to build a factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Lucid will be a company to watch. Of course, it’s impossible to know whether it ends up being a viable, perhaps even profitable, automaker, but it’s clear they are serious.

“This team realises the enormity of the task,” Rawlinson said. “We’re car guys. This is the team that has done it before. We know how to do this.”

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