Lucid Handed Another Billion Dollar Lifeline From Saudi Arabia

Photo: Lucid
Photo: Lucid

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, March 26, 2024, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Saudi Arabia Spent Another Billion Dollars Propping Up Lucid

It’s been a big week for oil-rich countries propping up struggling automakers. After Bahrain bought the entirety of British supercar maker McLaren, Saudi Arabia has now swept in with a billion dollar lifeline for American electric vehicle startup Lucid.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has plowed $1 billion into Lucid to support the capital needed by the company over the coming year, reports Reuters. The funding is the latest backing that the automaker has received from Saudi Arabia, as Reuters explains:


Lucid said on Monday it is raising $1 billion in capital from an affiliate of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), sending the shares of the luxury electric carmaker up about 8%.

The latest investment by the sovereign wealth fund underscores a key advantage Lucid has in the race for survival among struggling EV startups.

Ayar Third Investment Company, a PIF affiliate, will buy $1 billion in convertible preferred stock and will be able to convert the preferred stock into about 280 million shares, according to a filing with the U.S. securities regulator.

As well as the investment from Ayar Third, Lucid’s ties with Saudi Arabia run much deeper. In fact, the kingdom owns a 60 percent stake in the American automaker, which is part of its efforts to “diversify” its income away from oil, reports Reuters.

The funds will be essential to Lucid’s future, as it pledges to spend roughly $1.5 billion over the coming year, which will in part fund the launch of its second model: the Gravity electric SUV. Once that car launches in 2025, Lucid expects its annual output to rise from 9,000 cars in 2024 up to around 20,000 vehicles next year.

2nd Gear: GM Stops Sharing Your Driving Data

American automaker General Motors used its OnStar Smart Driver tool to monitor how owners drove their cars around town, promising handy tips on how to be a better, safer driver in the process. But for years, the company had been handing this data over to brokers who then sold it to insurance companies, causing premiums for many drivers to raise through the roof. Now, the automaker has parted ways with the two data brokers and says it won’t snoop on your driving anymore.

GM says it has now stopped sharing details about how people drive with data brokers LexisNexis Risk Solutions and Verisk, reports the Seattle Times. The decision came after a New York Times article found that insurance companies were getting their hands on this data and using it to set premiums. As the Seattle Times reports:

Since Wednesday, “OnStar Smart Driver customer data is no longer being shared with LexisNexis or Verisk,” a GM spokesperson, Malorie Lucich, said in an emailed statement. “Customer trust is a priority for us, and we are actively evaluating our privacy processes and policies.”

Romeo Chicco, a Florida man whose insurance rates nearly doubled after his Cadillac collected his driving data, filed a complaint seeking class-action status against GM, OnStar and LexisNexis this month.

An internal document, reviewed by the New York Times, showed that as of 2022, more than 8 million vehicles were included in Smart Driver. An employee familiar with the program said the company’s annual revenue from Smart Driver was in the low millions of dollars.

The data captured in the program included things like mileage covered, braking, acceleration and speed. This data was then shared with insurers across America, which used it to set higher insurance premiums for some GM drivers.

3rd Gear: Tesla Must Show Buyers How FSD Works

The roll-out of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance feature, Full-Self Driving, has been fraught with high-profile crashes, collisions and issues. One big factor leading to a lot of these disasters is that, for some wild reason, Tesla drivers think the software means their cars can successfully drive themselves. Imagine that.

Now, in an attempt to reduce the number of crashes that occur when FSD is in operation, Tesla dealers across the U.S. must now demonstrate to buyers how to safely use it before they’re allowed off the lot, reports Automotive News. As the site explains:

Tesla Inc. staff are now required to install and demonstrate the company’s driver-assistance technology before handing cars over to buyers in North America, a “hard requirement” that Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk says will slow deliveries.

Musk instructed employees to perform a “short test ride” with customers to show the system Tesla markets as Full Self-Driving, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg News. Workers will also have to perform checks on any vehicles returned from service.

On cars installed with the software, drivers are required to keep their full attention on the task of driving, despite many believing that FSD means their cars can drive themselves. The software, which adds $12,000 to the cost of a new Tesla, requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road when it is in operation.

4th Gear: VW Workers To Vote On UAW Membership

Unionized automakers are so hot right now, after the United Auto Workers union won raises for workers at GM, Ford and Stellantis last year. Now, Volkswagen employees in the U.S. want a slice of the union pie and will vote on whether or not to join the UAW next month.

Workers at VW’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will vote for or against unionization between April 17 and 19, reports the Detroit Free Press. The vote affects the site’s 4,300 workers, who assemble cars like the all-electric ID 4 SUV. As the Free Press reports:

If the workforce votes yes to unionize, it will be a huge win for the union, which has been working for more than a decade to unionize nonunion carmaker factories in the South. It has tried twice before at the VW Chattanooga plant — once in 2014 and again in 2019 — and failed to win unionization there both times.

In a statement, the UAW wrote the election at Volkswagen marks the latest breakthrough in its national movement of nonunion autoworkers organizing to join the UAW.

It’s no secret the the UAW hopes to expand its ranks in the coming years. After winning new contracts at America’s big three last year, union leader Shawn Fain saying that he hopes to turn the Big Three into the “Big Five or Big Six.”

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