Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is investing US$1 billion (RM4.15 billion) into Lucid Motors, a capital that will help finance the commercial launch of the startup’s first electric vehicle, the Air.

The investment arrived at a crucial period for the Silicon Valley-based startup. According to Bloomberg, the fund will be used to complete the engineering development and testing of the Lucid Air, construct its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona and begin the global rollout of its retail strategy starting in North America. More importantly, the investment will help Lucid Motors take the Air sedan into production.

To recap, the range-topping all-electric luxury sedan will be capable of a range of 640 km from launch, a zero-to-100 km/h acceleration time of under 2.5 seconds and a top speed of at least 250 km/h. This is thanks to twin electric motors (all-wheel drive) that deliver up to 1,000 hp.

There’s also a base model that will get a single 400 hp motor, rear-wheel drive and a smaller battery, which has a range of 385 km. A mid-range battery option will get a range of 505 km. While exact details are unclear, the battery pack will range between 100 to 130 kWh, while no charging specs have been made public.

Equipment includes the optional 21-inch wheels, panoramic glass roof and front seats with 22-way power adjustment, heating, ventilation, massage and dynamic bolster functions. Also on the list are rear reclining executive seats, expanded leather trim, a 29-speaker sound system and a fully-active suspension, which Lucid Motors claims offers a “world-class ride.”

In short, the Lucid Air is a direct rival to the Tesla Model S, but prices are said to begin from the US$60,000 (RM249k) mark for the base model. Want the 1,000 hp version? That will set you back over US$100,000 (RM415k) in the US.

The agreement is a notable investment for the Saudi kingdom (which also has built up a stake of less than 5% in Tesla), which plans to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels. In the past year, the Saudi Public Investment Fund has invested in renewable energy, established and developed recycling companies and energy efficiency services.

Saudi Arabia plans to turn its Public Investment Fund into the world’s biggest sovereign fund, controlling more than $2 trillion (RM8.3 trillion) by 2030, and to hedge against fluctuations in oil prices. It currently has a built up stake of less than 5% in Tesla, which recently quashed plans to go private through Saudi’s wealth fund.

GALLERY: Lucid Air Sedan