We all know Saudi Arabia for the massive basins of oil underneath the sand. These guys have been supplying the world with petrol we need to keep our cars, but things have changed. Yet Since 2014 the price of oil plummeted from $140 a barrel to $30 a barrel and had never really picked up since. Well, it seems Saudi Arabia is hedging its bets and investing in renewable sources of energy. We spoke with David H. Mcguire from Stellar Motors in the Mondrian Hotel London about why he along with a Saudi partner Ali Al Moussa decided to build an Autonomous Electric car in Saudi Arabia.
Carsoid: What made you want to do this in Saudi Arabia of all places, surely some people must be surprised.
David: Absolutely, I have had many surprised about this, however as I lived and work in Saudi Arabia I know there is sufficient talent and opportunities to develop such a project, and quite frankly it’s sort of now or never. As my partner Ali says, Saudi Arabia missed the ICE era, but still has a chance to be the main player in electric cars.
Carsoid: We know that the PIF has funded some portion of Tesla and also invested $1b in Lucid Motors in America what are your thoughts on that?
David: We recognised early on that the market is ripe for investment, and some of the star players right now are of course Tesla and Lucid, however, what we are aiming to develop is a few iterations in front of those with complete level 5 autonomy.
Carsoid: Is Saudi Arabia ready for this type of industry, to build a Tesla or Lucid type vehicle
over there, does it have the logistical capacity?
David: We are heavily relying on smart manufacturing to be able to ease the pressures that come along with building manufacturing plants. However in regards to the talent pool, research facilities from the Universities they are in place, and we have no reservations about that.
Carsoid: How long will a project like your take for us to see a product?
David: A realistic timeline is really dependant on pieces of the puzzle coming together, right now we are ironing out the design to support our software and hardware capabilities, however, we have already made a few iterations. We really hope that we will see a fully working prototype by 2022.
They aim to build a working prototype by 2022 of a level 5 car, which gives them 3 years to complete. However, what we don’t know is what Tesla or Lucid has in the bag and whether perhaps Lucid will prop up a manufacturing part in Saudi Arabia. Key players around the world are moving towards moving from ICE to Electric especially with the pressure being placed on air quality, particularly in India and China.