Start-up Lucid aims Air strike at Tesla

California company plans to produce electric sedans starting in 2018

Published: December 24, 2016, 10:05 PM
Updated: December 30, 2016, 6:14 AM

Ludic Air

Lucid Air

Another California start-up is planning to produce high-end electric vehicles, with plans for its first model to start rolling off the line late in 2018.

Lucid Motors of Menlo Park has unveiled its first product, the Air full-sized luxury sedan, and it’s naturally aimed at Tesla, with its all-electric powertrain and autonomous driving capabilities, though it also has a unique open cabin concept through the use of a full glass roof.

The company claims a 100-kWh battery, which will eventually grow to 130 kWh. That’s enough to provide up to 645 km of range on a single charge. And though that may seem ambitious (in light of the Tesla’s real world 530 km range), Lucid points out those aren’t just concept-car fantasy numbers.

Lucid Air interior

“We’ve been creating a production car from the start, not a concept car,” Derek Jenkins, the vice president for design, told The Washington Post. “Inevitably, through the feasibility process, some features will morph or change slightly. Fundamentally, this is representative of the car we want to build.”

Jenkins is one of a talented management team, having lead Mazda’s North American design team. Peter Rawlinson, Lucid's chief technology officer, formerly headed engineering at Tesla, and Brian Barron, Lucid’s director of global manufacturing, is an 18-year veteran of BMW.

“From the beginning, we weren’t looking at Lucid or the Air as going after Tesla,” Jenkins said to The Post. “There is a huge market out here that is not yet driving electric vehicles. We see a tremendous advantage with our technology and the layout of our vehicles over internal combustion.”

Lucid Air

Although the company has yet to confirm investments, Crunchbase claims that Lucid has raised more than $130 million US in venture capital from various American and Asian investors. Lucid has announced a production facility in Casa Grande, Arizona (roughly halfway between Phoenix and Tucson) eventually staffed by a workforce of 2,000 by the time full-production is ramped up in 2022. The plan is to begin production late in 2018, with deliveries the following year.

The company has set up an online reservation site for pre-orders, where potential buyers can put down $25,500 on the “Launch Edition” (limited to 255 units) of the new sedans. Or customers can wait to get their cars beyond the original 255 and just put down $2,500. Lucid expects to sell the Air for $65,000 US throughout North America ($100,000 for a fully equipped model).