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Saudi wealth fund pours $1B into Lucid, an electric vehicle startup

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund plans to invest over $1 billion into Lucid Motors, which the Silicon Valley electric automaker said will enable the commercial launch of its first vehicle in 2020.

Why it matters: The funding signals how the Saudis are seeking to use their Public Investment Fund (PIF) to help the kingdom, OPEC's dominant oil producer, diversify its crude-reliant economy.

Word of the Saudi interest in Lucid, a potential rival to Tesla that's eyeing the luxury market with a vehicle called the Lucid Air, surfaced last month.

The PIF also has a roughly 5% stake in Tesla, according to multiple reports.

The intrigue: The Saudi interest in the electric vehicle market attracted intense attention recently when Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he'd held advanced discussions with the PIF about bankrolling his expensive, now-abandoned plan to take Tesla private.

What they're saying: "By investing in the rapidly expanding electric vehicle market, PIF is gaining exposure to long-term growth opportunities, supporting innovation and technological development and driving revenue and sectoral diversification for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," a spokesperson for the PIF said in a statement alongside Monday's announcement.

Lucid said it will use the money to "complete engineering development and testing of the Lucid Air, construct its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, begin the global rollout of its retail strategy starting in North America, and enter production for the Lucid Air."

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