It's a story as old as the Gods and Titans themselves. Ex-Tesla executives have started construction on a brand new car production facility in Casa Grande, Arizona – about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. With a $700m investment, backed by Saudi Arabian oil money, CEO Peter Rawlinson and CTO Derek Jenkins are hoping that they will be able to ramp up production in time to meet Tesla's challenge of affordable, luxury sedan cars with supercar on-track performance. WhichEV looks back 12 years to see where it all started and assesses Lucid‘s chances of success.
Lucid began life in 2007 as a battery company called Atieva. This is one area in which it has had great success, and continues to do so. All of the battery packs for Formula E, last season and this, were designed, developed and manufactured by Lucid (in collaboration with McLaren and Sony). So the power storage end of the new car has been sorted, what about the chassis and powertrain?
Unveiled in December 2016, the Lucid Air prototype was built with a 400hp front motor and 600hp rear motor, for a total of 1,000hp. The earlier model was limited to 217mph, but in July 2017 at the Transportation Research Centre in Ohio, a special version of the Lucid Air managed 235mph.
With an experienced team, strong R&D, big oil money and a good concept, what would possibly go wrong for Lucid?
Its milestones have slipped a number of times. When media were allowed to get their hands-on with the prototype in April 2017 (complete with an in-seat massage system), we were told that the car would start at just $52,000 with a 315-mile range, autonomous driving hardware built-in and that production would start in 2018.
Lucid's plans are for 20,000 cars a year by 2025 and 130,000 cars a year before the end of the decade. To put that into perspective, the entire 2030 production capability of Lucid will be around half the number that Tesla took with Cybertruck pre-orders in a week. If you're feeling confident about Lucid's offer, then you can make your $2,500 deposit here.
And that's before the Germans, French, Japanese, Italian and other major car manufacturers come to market with their own products. From what we can tell, there is only one number being quoted by Lucid that appears bigger than its Tesla equivalent – charger capacity. Lucid would appear to have a deal in discussion with Electrify America to be able to use a 350kW CCS device.
Will the Lucid Gods manage to overthrow the Tesla Titans? Only time will tell. What we can say, for sure, is that Elon Musk's lead is enormous and his revenue is real. It will take something extraordinary for Rawlinson's team to catch the EV leader.