original article appeared in the February 19, 2019 edition of the Tri-City Voice
There are a surprising number of electric vehicle companies that have sprung up in the past 10 years. Most of them are making compact commuter cars or small roadsters geared for the urban environment. Only Tesla seems to be having any success with a larger, more serious vehicle that can compete with traditional luxury sedans made by BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. Until now.
[Cue music from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Activate fog machines. Watch in awe as two beams of light emerge from the mist, set in the front of a super sleek car that begins to purr…]
Lucid Motors of Newark hopes to revolutionize the electric vehicle market with their all-electric luxury sedan, the Lucid Air, unveiled to the public in 2016. And thanks to a recent deal to secure over one billion dollars in investment funding from Saudi Arabia, they plan to build a massive factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, and bring the car to market in 2020.
“We’re very excited,” says David Salguero, Marketing Manager for Lucid. “The Lucid Air is the future of luxury, with a very California feel.” With its sweeping glass canopy and reclining rear seats, this car has already generated a lot of media buzz.
A major selling point is the amount of interior space. Many people have likened it to the T.A.R.D.I.S. from Doctor Who, in that it appears larger on the inside than it looks on the outside. With the Lucid Air, there is no engine under the hood as with traditional gas sedans. It’s all in the floor. By miniaturizing the powertrain and sculpting the battery pack, Lucid engineers have created more leg room than a Mercedes Benz S Class. Says Salguero, “If you look at the design, it’s more like an airplane in that it’s basically all passenger compartment, with very short overhangs front and back.”
To compare the Lucid Air to the Tesla Model S is a natural reaction for most. In fact, Lucid’s Chief Technology Officer is Peter Rawlinson, formerly Tesla’s Chief Engineer who helped create the Model S. But the similarities end there. Says Salguero, “Tesla’s a great company, very innovative. But their cars are not particularly luxurious. In fact, they’re very minimalist and sparse. Our competition is really the well-established luxury sedans.”
Lucid started off as a company called Atieva based in Menlo Park developing battery technology, which soon evolved into making powertrain systems for electric vehicles.
In 2014 they began to experiment with vehicle prototypes. Along with Rawlinson, they also recruited Derek Jenkins to be their Vice President of Design, who previously had worked at Mazda. Says Salguero, “We’ve hired a very impressive team to make things happen.”
In 2016, the start-up changed its name to Lucid Motors. According to Salguero, they chose the word “lucid” because it means clarity of thought or focus, and aligns well with their mission to provide a car for those who “know where they’re going.” In 2017 the company moved to Newark, to a few buildings at the Pacific Research Center located at the east end of the Dumbarton Bridge.
Later this month they plan to consolidate everyone (over 300 employees) under one roof, which is unusual for a car company. Says Salguero, “We’re excited to be in Newark. This amount of space is difficult to find in Silicon Valley. And by putting everyone together, we’re hoping it encourages collaboration, which is really important to us.” They are currently hiring, with over 200 positions available.
Lucid recently partnered with Electrify America, which is building a network of public DC fast charging stations across the country. While it’s unclear which standard Lucid will go with, CHAdeMO or CCS, Electrify America will provide chargers for both. Most industry analysts predict that CCS will win out in the long run (just like VHS videotapes won over Betamax).
When it comes out in 2020, the Lucid Air will retail for $100,000. This will be their top-of-the line model, with a range of 400 miles, top speed of 200 mph, 0-60mph in under 2.5 seconds, and autonomous driving hardware with over the air software updates. Subsequent, more basic models will be available at lower price points.
For those who have yet to experience riding in an electric car, Salguero offers these words: “The electric motor creates all of the power starting from zero revolutions, so you can go very fast quite easily. There are no gears to shift, no engine vibrations. It just goes. It’s a very effortless, quiet, smooth experience. After you spend some time in an electric vehicle, gas cars seem needlessly complicated. They feel like the past.”
For More Information:
Lucid Motors, Inc.
7500 Gateway Boulevard, Newark