Lucid Motors will become a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange under a deal that will leave the electric vehicle startup with $ 4.4 billion in cash. The California start-up, which is majority owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, plans to start shipping its first luxury electric vehicle, the Air sedan, later this year. An electric SUV is expected to follow in 2023.
Just as many other auto startups have done over the past year, Lucid Motors is skipping the traditional path to becoming a publicly traded company and instead merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Specifically, Lucid Motors is merging with Churchill Capital Corp IV, which is already listed on the NYSE. Bloomberg first reported that Lucid Motors and Churchill, which is led by investor Michael Klein, who has orchestrated deals for Saudi Arabia in the past were in talks in January.
About $ 2.1 billion of this money will come from Churchill. Some $ 2.5 billion will come from a new round of concomitant funding, which is anchored by Saudi Arabia but includes BlackRock, Fidelity Management and others. Some will go to expenses, the rest will go to the new combo version of Lucid Motors. The deal values Lucid Motors at $ 24 billion. It is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, and shares of Lucid Motors will trade on the NYSE under the symbol LCID.
Led by Peter Rawlinson, a former Tesla engineer who helped bring Model S to life, Lucid Motors was founded in 2007 as Atieva. It was initially focused on battery technology, but ended up becoming an electric vehicle start-up a few years ago. Since then, it has more than 2,000 employees and has begun construction of a $ 700 million plant in Arizona, where Air will be built.
Like many of its peers, Lucid Motors struggled for some time as it sought new funding. To complicate matters, Jia Yueting, the founder of startup Faraday Future, ended up owning around 30% of Lucid Motors. Jia has become an obstacle in the company’s fundraising efforts, which includes requests from major equipment manufacturers such as Ford. (Ford eventually charted its own path towards electric vehicles, although it supplemented that effort with a partnership with Volkswagen and an investment in dynamic electric vehicle start-up Rivian.)
In the meantime, Lucid Motors has turned to hedge funds for loans to keep the lights on, using its intellectual property as collateral, like The edge first reported in 2018.
Lucid Motors has finally found a savior in Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, or PIF. PIF promised more than a billion dollars to Lucid Motors in 2018 (a few weeks before the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi) in exchange for a majority stake in a startup aligned with the clean energy ambitions touted by the leader of facto Kingdoms, Mohammed bin Salman.
According to the investor presentation released on Monday, PIF currently owns 85% of Lucid Motors following a further injection of $ 600 million that is supposed to support the startup until the PSPC deal is concluded. Jia is would now be out of the picture, and Faraday Future is one of several other EV startups to announce a SPAC merger.
Since then, Lucid Motors has worked hard to prepare the state-of-the-art luxury Air sedan for its debut. The car takes advantage of the company’s long history of battery technology to deliver over 500 miles of range, which would make it just as capable as Teslas’ most advanced Model S sedan. Lucid Motors also plans to sell it directly to customers, as do Tesla and other EV startups.
This battery technology is one of the reasons Kleins SPAC invests so deeply in Lucid Motors, according to the investor presentation. Lucid Motors has untapped potential in battery storage solutions and powertrain technology licensing, the companies write. They imagine that batteries are specifically used in everything from commercial vehicles to helicopters or drones and other aircraft, to heavy equipment.
The investor presentation also talks about Lucid Motors’ growing cache of executive talent. This includes former Apple vice president Michael Bell, who helped bring the iPhone to the world. Bell previously served as Rivian’s technical director until his abrupt departure last February. Former Tesla executives Peter Hochholdinger (manufacturing) and Peter Hasenkamp (supply chain) are also senior executives at Lucid Motors.
Lucid Motors expects to be able to generate gross profits as early as 2023, when its first SUV called Gravity debuts, and that it will truly go dark by 2025. It hopes to be able to manufacture and sell 20,000 cars by 2022; 49,000 in 2023; and up to 500,000 cars per year (including Air, Gravity SUV and future models) by 2030.
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