The chief executive officer of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) backed American luxury electric car maker Lucid Motors said that the company plans to launch a rival to Elon Musk-owned Tesla’s Model 3 in 2024 or 2025.
The company, led by the former Tesla engineer, is following the same strategy as Tesla by starting with a luxury car to create a buzz around the brand and then expand into the mass market.
Recently it announced plans to go public by merging with a blank check company, a move that indicated a market capitalization of $56 billion, before regular production of Lucid Motors’ first model began.
Scaling up production of a mass automobile is a major financial challenge, Mr. Rawlinson said. “I can’t wait to do that,” he said, referring to the rival to Tesla’s Model 3, it’s least expensive sedan. But first Mr. Rawlinson said he would for now focus on the luxury, bigger car, which paradoxically takes fewer resources. “To make a smaller car requires more capital, because you need a bigger factory and more automation,” he said.
Experts say it may be too late for Lucid to launch the affordable model as established makers like Germany’s Volkswagen, South Korea-based Hyundai Motor and US-based Ford are already introducing affordable models to challenge Tesla.
“There is a question mark over whether there will be a market left for Lucid after four to five years,” automotive industry analysts contemplate.
Lucid Motors’ first electric car, the luxury Air, won’t go in production now until late 2021, later than the spring 2021 launch initially planned.
Mr. Rawlinson said that the carmaker expects production of a less expensive, below-$70,000 version of the luxury sedan in 2022, followed by a sport utility vehicle code-named Project Gravity in 2023. He said he is interested in developing pickup trucks and commercial vehicles, but they are several years away and might be built with partners.
“The world needs $25,000 cars urgently. Lucid can’t do it for another eight years realistically,” he said, adding that even Tesla has not launched such a model yet.
He also said six well-known automakers have reached out to him over the last month and expressed interest in Lucid Motors’ technology. Cooperating with another company could lead to making a $25,000 car in the next three to four years, he said. He further added that it is too early for the company to make its own battery cells for now, adding that it has contracts with suppliers LG Chem and Samsung.
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