Sep 17, 2018

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."

Go deeper

Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and South Korea ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

A combine in Rippey, Iowa harvests soybeans in October 2019. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. U.S. soybean stockpiles expected to drop as exports rebound, USDA says
  2. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  3. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins
  4. Reports: Facebook offers up to $5 for voice recordings
  5. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps