By Alaa Swilam and Yousef Saba
(Reuters) -Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth said on Thursday it will make electric cars in the kingdom under a joint venture with Apple supplier Foxconn as part of a push to build new industries and lessen dependence on oil.
Ceer “is the first Saudi automotive brand to produce electric vehicles in Saudi Arabia, and will design, manufacture and sell a range of vehicles for consumers in Saudi Arabia and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, including sedans and sports utility vehicles,” PIF said in a statement.
PIF said its cars would be available in 2025, adding Ceer would draw more than $150 million in foreign direct investment, create up to 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and is projected to contribute $8 billion to the kingdom’s GDP by 2034.
The joint venture “will license component technology from BMW for use in the vehicle development process,” PIF said in a statement.
“Foxconn will develop the electrical architecture of the vehicles, resulting in a portfolio of products that will lead in the areas of infotainment, connectivity and autonomous driving technologies,” it added.
An investment strategy announced last year aims for more than $100 billion in FDI annually and Saudi Arabia still lags behind those targets, with just over $4 billion in inflows in the first half of this year.
Chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, PIF is his chosen vehicle to drive efforts to diversify the economy and wean it off oil.
Lucid Group Inc, which is more than 60% owned by PIF, is building an electric vehicle assembly plant in Jeddah with an eventual capacity to manufacture 150,000 vehicles a year. The Saudi government signed a deal with Lucid to buy up to 100,000 of its cars over the next 10 years.
A Lucid spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
The kingdom is also making a push into mining and said in May that it would build an electric vehicle battery metals plant.
“We will leverage Foxconn’s technological expertise to support Ceer’s vision of creating a range of iconic electric vehicles that are built around the themes of connectivity, infotainment and autonomy,” Foxconn Chairman Young Liu said, according to PIF’s statement.
“We want to make electric vehicles mainstream, and that is what Ceer is going to achieve in Saudi Arabia and the wider region,” he added.
PIF did not disclose funding details and did not say how much a Ceer plant would cost or where in the kingdom it would be built. A PIF spokesman could not be reached for further comment.
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Saudi Arabia and Foxconn were in talks to jointly build a $9 billion facility that could make microchips, electric-vehicle components and other electronics in NEOM, a futuristic $500 billion city being built in Saudi Arabia’s desert.
(Reporting by Alaa Swilam; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by David Evans and Paul Simao)