American electric vehicle maker Lucid Group will set up its first overseas factory in Saudi Arabia, the company said.

Javier Blas | Bloomberg | Getty Images

American electric vehicle maker Lucid Group will set up its first overseas plant in Saudi Arabia, the company announced.

The production facility will be able to produce 155,000 cars a year and will initially serve the local market, the luxury carmaker said in a press release Wednesday. Later, the machines will be exported to world markets.

The Lucid plant in Arizona can produce 350,000 units a year.

“That means we can accelerate plans to produce half a million cars a year from 2030 to the middle of the decade,” CEO Peter Rollinson Hadley Gamble told CNBC. “And it’s very important because the planet can’t wait.”

The current energy crisis “is really only contributing to the shift to battery-powered electric vehicles,” Rollinson said.

“Now the demand is increasing,” he said.

The ambitions of the EV industry

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih said the Lucid plant was just the beginning.

“I think it unleashes the whole electric car industry here in the kingdom, our goal is not to stop at Lucid,” he told Hadley Gamble on CNBC.

“We have other EV manufacturers leading advanced discussions with us that will follow in Lucid’s footsteps,” he added.

Saudi Arabia also wants companies, suppliers and other batteries for electric batteries to open stores in the country that could create 30,000 jobs, he said.

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“We believe, as I said, that this is a catalytic investment decision … it is a magnet that will attract many other investors,” al-Falih said.

Rawlinson of Lucid said the company would like to produce more than electric cars in Saudi Arabia, and pointed to energy storage systems that could be linked to solar photovoltaic farms.

“This technology is perfect for this part of the world,” he said. “Because remember that when the oil runs out, the sun will shine.”

As of 2021, Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest oil producer, according to the US Energy Information Administration. It also has oil reserves of 297.5 billion barrels, second only to Venezuela, according to the World Population Review.

The kingdom’s state oil company, Aramco, in the first quarter of 2022 saw its net profit rise 82% to $ 39.5 billion.

Al-Falih said the world still needs to invest in both fossil fuels and renewables to make the transition to energy as smooth as possible.

He said Saudi Arabia is looking to move from traditional fuels to cleaner energy, citing the kingdom’s green initiatives.

– Dan Murphy of CNBC contributed to this report.

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