EV startup Lucid Motors unveiled its Lucid Air electric luxury sedan in December. Bloomberg recently got to check out a couple of prototypes.
Reporters took a ride in a vehicle that had almost no interior finish – just bare metal panels and a vinyl bench seat. The test vehicle was far lighter than the finished sedan will be, with a temporary body of carbon fiber panels in place of aluminum and steel. It also had half the 1,000 horsepower that the production vehicle will offer, but nonetheless, when the test driver (a World Rally Championship racer) punched the pedal, the Bloombergers were “literally pinned to our seats.”
Bloomberg’s team also got a look at another, far more polished prototype, and was quite taken with the styling. They particularly noted the spacious passenger cabin, the sumptuous, minutely-adjustable rear seat and the unique “space age” bubble-topped rear.
The Lucid Air is scheduled to hit the roads in 2019. The company promises that it will do 0-60 in 2.5 seconds, achieve 400 miles of range, and feature driving assistance capabilities including radar, lidar, and cameras, making it ready for fully autonomous operation. Some have speculated that it will carry a price tag around $160,000.
Bloomberg points out that Lucid will be facing some tough competition in 2019, not only from a new generation of Teslas, but also from electric luxury sedans made by heavyweights like Mercedes, Porsche, Jaguar, and Aston Martin. Can a startup possibly sell an EV at a profit, and if not, can it afford to lose money in order to build market share?
Lucid’s Chief Technology Officer, Peter Rawlinson, the former Tesla exec who led the design of Model S, rejects that whole scenario: “It’s a myth that EVs lose money,” he says. “It’s a very smart play, though. If I dominate that market, wouldn’t it benefit me greatly to have my competitors – long-lived brands with decades of experience building cars – believe that this is a money-losing prospect?”