Commentary: (Not So) Silent Lucidity

Did you watch the hour-and-a-half hour long video introducing the newest electric vehicle to be produced in the USA?

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Some of these startups announced grand plans to take over the EV world with vehicles built in this country. Go ahead, fly the flag! Show a photo of Mount Rushmore, why don’t you?

If I sound jaded, there is a reason.

The truth is that Tesla is the EV of choice for the world. American tech money and know-how drove this company to the forefront. And, now, they own the EV market in this country. Model 3s and the rest of the four-vehicle lineup are permeating the roads of our nation from sea to shining sea. 

It has made Elon Musk a hero. 

However, Tesla has settled into the space of being the “default EV.” It is still attracting competitors from across the sea and down the street in Silicon Valley. Porsche, Jaguar, BMW, Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, smart, Chevrolet, Bollinger, Nikola, Rivian, and so forth are among the many who have tried, are trying, or about to try to give Tesla a run for its bitcoin money. 

What makes Lucid Motors any different than anyone else?

That is a good question. Their one-and-a-half long video introducing the Lucid Air luxury electric sedan, along with the teasing of their SUV, certainly looked like a play to one-up on Tesla and Musk. Even if they did not acknowledge the elephant in Palo Alto and Fremont. 

However, Lucid got my attention. Their presentation was seemed contrived, but there was something behind this company and product that makes me think that they could possibly take the lead in the upper end of the EV market. 

Of course, the same question is asked for anyone with the ambition to eat into Tesla’s sales: Can you deliver?

Understand how Lucid will deliver on their vehicles. The plant in Casa Grande, Arizona has been built and they are producing prototypes. The first vehicle – the Air Dream Edition – will leave the Arizona plant in the Spring of 2021. These special first-run production vehicles will cost $169,000.

Wait…what? Isn’t that more than the Porsche Taycan Turbo. And, by "Turbo," Porsche means 670 horsepower of electricity. 

If there is an argument between the two is that the Lucid Air appears to have more passenger and cargo space than the Porsche. 

If you are looking for the "base" model Lucid Air, I'm afraid you will have to wait, the company states that their "below $80,000" model will arrive at their "studios" in 2022. 

The sales model appears to be similar to Tesla. A physical "studio" will augment an online sales experience. However, there will be studios located in Beverly Hills, the Silicon Valley (Newark and San Jose), Miami, West Palm Beach, New York City, and out in Tysons Corners in Northern Virginia. That’s just for starters. 

And, just like Tesla, Lucid will follow a more direct sales approach to the customer. If you think they’ll be welcomed at a dealership association meeting – forget it. 

Meanwhile, Rivian already secured a manufacturing facility from the bones of the former Mitsubishi/Diamond Star plant in Normal, Illinois. While some prototypes have been running – including a couple of R1Ts that supported Ewan MacGregor's Long Way Up electric motorcycle (er, Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire) adventure/movie.  

But, other than securing investments here and there, where’s the sales channel beyond the reservation website? Where’s the plan for servicing the R1T and R1S? 

This is why Lucid got my attention. They have a plan. It is in effect. They are opening facilities and have a timeline that could possibly be met. They also have a collaboration on charging on the road with Electrify America. 

Meanwhile, Tesla continues to attract new customers with their proprietary charging networks, formulated vehicles, and ownership arrogance that reminded me of when the second-generation Toyota Prius became the darling of celebrities and environmentalists alike. 

Being a startup company already is met with a huge amount of risk. To succeed, they have to find a way to either be first in their field or to have the best executable plan. That perfectly describes Tesla and Lucid. 

If I were a betting man, I would support current automotive manufacturers who have been working on their EVs and have some key advantages in terms of manufacturing, distribution, and support. However, if I am to choose a startup to watch for – Lucid is your answer. 

Cover photo courtesy of Lucid Motors

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