What today is Lucid Motors has its origin under another name: Atieva. Founded in 2007 by Bernard Tse and Sam Weng in Newark, California. Atieva was focused in its early years on manufacturing batteries for other companies.
Discover Lucid’s Visionary World – History of Lucid Car
That did not go well. Despite receiving about 130 million in investment in its first years from Venrock, the Japanese financial Mitsui or the Chinese LeEco -which also financed Faraday Future-, Atieva could not get close to profitability.
In 2013, its founders decided to sign the two names that have created the Lucid Air. Peter Rawlinson from Tesla for engineering and Derek Jenkins from Mazda for design. With these two new names, the company changed its name to Lucid in 2016 – although it retains Atieva internally for its battery developments – and pivoted its battery business to manufacture its vehicles.
Oil money to finance an electric car
The delays, however, continued to occur to the point that the definitive presentation of the Lucid Air in its various versions (which we will now delve into) did not happen until September 2020 and was only possible after the entry into its money capital from Saudi Arabia.
After being close to bankruptcy, Lucid obtained Saudi financing to finalize its factory.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia invested 1.3 billion dollars in injecting air into Lucid. Until its recent IPO, the national fund in question owned up to 67% of the electric car company’s shares.
Perhaps it deserves some context to see how a country like the Arab oil giant invests in electric cars. The PIF is a sovereign fund attached to the Saudi crown founded in the 90s but moved powerfully in 2015. Since then, it has invested in companies like Uber and Virgin and is also behind its hydrogen projects.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the banker who runs this fund, aims to position itself with this fund in the face of falling oil revenues in the long term. And for this, they have a lot of money. It has never been fully materialized, but media such as TechCrunch linked the investment in Lucid with that tweet by Elon Musk in which he claimed that he was considering taking Tesla out of the markets with “secured financing. “
Lucid’s deal with the PIF was closed just a few weeks later. Musk himself shed light on the possibility that the Saudis – who at the time owned 5% of Tesla – could offer that backing to retake Tesla private—thinking that Lucid was a kind of ‘second course’ further fuels speculation and the very comparison between the two companies.
What they propose: models that start from super luxury and Lucid Air as the spearhead
At present, according to company sources, there are already 2,000 employees in the first generation of its models.
The Lucid Air comes in 4 versions, the super-luxury being the first to be sold to finance the following assembly. Something that looks like the plan pursued by Tesla in recent years.
Because yes, after talking about Lucid Air for several years, we could finally see its release, as we mentioned in September of last year. Lucid plans that its first model will start with four different versions, starting from the super-luxury to find more accessible prices that are still high.
The Lucid Air Dream Edition, priced at $ 169,000, is your first workhorse. Pre-orders for this limited-edition super-luxury option were soon exhausted, according to Lucid, who nonetheless gave no number of units ordered.
The price drops to the Air Pure model from the Dream Edition, currently in pre-order for $ 79,000. Here you can see a comparison of autonomy, power, and other characteristics between the versions that it proposes from the beginning.
As we see, Lucid’s commitment goes through an autonomy that exceeds even that of the Tesla Model S ( up to 830 kilometers according to the EPA), a power that is also unleashed, and an elegant design but that does not leave any corner without luxury.
The differences – although in the most basic model, the characteristics have not yet been specified – swing by reducing their horses and their autonomy.
Of course, there is a significant asterisk at the moment. And it is that even though in its presentation a few months ago, Lucid assured that it would begin to deliver its first cars in the first half of 2021, in February, it announced a delay until the end of the same course, leaving the dates of the following models without updating. The firm, of course, has confirmed that its models will arrive in Europe in 2022 and that its recent IPO gives it financial stability to save losses, at least until 2023.
In the longer term is what would be his first SUV, called Project Gravity, and now we can hardly know much more than what the leak of his patent offered us in the clear.
Technology, luxury, and acceleration with batteries as a base (at least on paper)
From what we know about the Lucid Air so far, we could say that it would enter the highest range of electricity in every way—both in price, as in autonomy, and acceleration.
A few months ago, the company itself released a video in which it was seen how one of its Dream Edition surpassed a Tesla Model S Performance on a race track. The 1,080 horses that its engine has in its most premium edition, with a maximum speed of 270 kilometers/hour plus its enormous autonomy, in short, they promise.
But behind the many numbers is the essential work of Peter Rawlinson, whose team has achieved batteries that, due to their density and charging speed, seem to go one step further. Lucid batteries, designed in collaboration with LG, have had forays into Formula E, where they have been able to experiment with them. Thanks to all this, their cars will mount 113 kWh batteries. To get an idea, the Tesla Model S has 100 kWh batteries.
The charging speed is also another point where it seems to surpass the current industry briefly (again, on paper), achieving 483 kilometers of autonomy with only 20 minutes of charging, yes, with chargers that allow it to take advantage of its 350 kW peaks.
To keep the comparison going, Lucid’s vehicles have a capacity of more than 4.5 miles per kWh, while Tesla’s Model S Long Range stays at 4, according to Lucid.
To put an end to batteries, Lucid also proposes a bidirectional charging system that would allow electricity to pass from one car to another or even use the car to recharge a battery that powers our home.
Adding its commitment to driving assistance, some of its most significant differences in approach with Tesla. The Lucids will have a system of 32 different types of radars, including a LIDAR, a technology that Musk has scorned when talking about autonomous driving, betting more on a combination of sensors and artificial intelligence. With this, Lucid wants to offer a level 2 of autonomy with some functions that could eventually reach level 3.
Lucid vs Tesla: many similarities but also some differences
Lucid and Tesla have several things in common and points that differentiate them, as we have been naming so far.
- His vision is similar. Starting with a high-priced car to be able to receive investment and finance cheaper models. Of course, on the part of Lucid, it does not seem that they will go to such low levels as Tesla plans in its next phase. “In the longest and most comprehensive run, do we build a $ 25,000 car like the one Tesla plans to make with its Model 2?” Rawlinson said. “My opinion is that, as a company, I think we are probably seven or eight years away from being able to contemplate something like that.”
- Cargo net, the first difference. Unlike Tesla and its Superchargers, Lucid has partnered with Volkswagen-owned Electrify America.
- Autonomous driving: same vision, different roads. As we mentioned, Elon Musk has so far scorned LIDAR sensors, while Rawlinson believes them essential.
- Advertising: While Tesla has grown without classic advertising – but with a CEO who gave much to talk about – Lucid, by contrast, ran a national television campaign from December 25 to the end of January to announce its Air model.