Lucid is bringing the EV fight to Tesla in October

29 September 2021 - 08:20
By Reuters
The first Lucid Air customer-quality cars have driven off the assembly line after achieving EPA certification, as well as achieving FMVSS safety certification.
Image: Lucid Motors The first Lucid Air customer-quality cars have driven off the assembly line after achieving EPA certification, as well as achieving FMVSS safety certification.

Lucid Group Inc said on Tuesday it will start delivering its luxury electric sedans with a Tesla-beating driving range in late October, in a major challenge to the market leader whose sales of premium models have stagnated.

The California-based startup began production of its long-delayed Lucid Air cars at its Arizona factory on Tuesday. The company, founded in 2007, received funding from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund in 2018 before going public via a shell company in July.

Lucid Group CEO Peter Rawlinson, who had overseen Tesla's Model S development before he left the company in 2012, faces tasks similar to those of Tesla in its early days, including how to address manufacturing challenges and scale up production.

"I think the big challenge for Lucid will be execution," said Sam Abuelsamid, a principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights.

"I think that they have a very good car. It's very attractive,"

Lucid said on Tuesday it has received more than 13,000 reservations for Lucid Air models, with prices starting at $77,400 (roughly R1,168,398). It also said it has increased the planned total production of the top-end Lucid Air Dream Edition to 520 vehicles. That car is priced at $169,000 (roughly R2,551,154) and will be available in late October, followed by less expensive models: Grand Touring, Touring and Air Pure.

A version of the Dream Edition has received an official government rating of a 520 mile (837km) range, delivering more than 100 miles (160km) of additional range over its closest rival, Tesla's Model S, which is priced at $89,990 (roughly R1,357,121).

“The proprietary EV technology that Lucid has developed will make it possible to travel more miles using less battery energy," said Rawlinson.

Lucid has not yet disclosed the battery capacity of the top-end version of Lucid Air, but it said its Lucid Air Grand Touring version has an official EPA rating of 516 miles (830km) of range with a 112kWh battery pack, giving it an industry-leading efficiency of 4.6 miles (7.4km) per kilowatt-hour.

Musk said in June that Tesla has canceled its plan to launch a Model S Plaid+, with a target driving range of 520 miles (836km) , saying another version is "so good".

Tesla's combined sales of Model S and Model X luxury models stood at only 1,890 in the second quarter of this year, down from 22,300 during the same period three years ago. Tesla does not break out figures for the two high-end models.

"The Model S doesn't look fundamentally different from a Model S nine years ago," Abuelsamid said.

"In the premium market, customers are looking for the latest and greatest."

"What Lucid is going to potentially have an advantage is the Air feels like a luxury car, feels a lot more premium." 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in October 2020 cut the price of its Model S, shortly after Lucid announced the pricing of its base model.

"The gauntlet has been thrown down! The prophecy will be fulfilled," he tweeted at that time.

Musk reiterated this month that "production is hard".

"Production with positive cash flow is extremely hard," he said, citing carmakers' razor-thin margins.

Electric vehicle maker Rivian, backed by Inc and preparing for a public stock listing, earlier this month started production of electric pickup trucks. That move came ahead of similar expected moves by Tesla, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co, which are all preparing to launch electric pickup trucks.