EV start-up Lucid begins production of flagship Air sedan ahead of customer deliveries

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Electric vehicle start-up Lucid on Sept. 28, 2021 said production of its first cars for customers has started at its factory in in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Electric vehicle start-up Lucid on Tuesday said production of its first cars for customers is underway, with deliveries scheduled to begin late next month.

Lucid is the first EV start-up that went public through a SPAC deal to actually produce a saleable vehicle for consumers. The milestone is crucial for Lucid, which debuted on the Nasdaq in July and is viewed as a front-runner to rival EV leader Tesla.

“I’m delighted that production cars endowed with this level of efficiency are currently driving off our factory line,” Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson, a former chief engineer and vice president of engineering at Tesla, said in a statement.

Lucid’s first car is a $169,000 special edition of its flagship sedan called the Air Dream Edition, with an industry-leading range of up to 520 miles, according to the EPA. The company plans to produce just 520 of the Dream Edition models, in a nod to the car’s EPA range.

Pricing for an entry-level version of the car, the Lucid Air sedan, starts at $77,400 before an up to $7,500 federal tax credit for plug-in vehicles.

Lucid said it has received more than 13,000 total reservations so far.

The initial vehicles being produced, including Lucid Air Grand Touring models, are earmarked for Lucid’s studios, sales teams, and for customer test drives, according to a company spokesman.

Lucid told investors in July that it expects to produce 20,000 Lucid Air sedans in 2022, generating more than $2.2 billion in revenue, according to an investor presentation. That’s a slower ramp-up than other EV start-ups.

“Our emphasis is upon quality, delivering an awesome car, a car that our customers will really love, and delivering a luxury customer experience.,” Rawlinson said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” “That takes precedent upon rushing the ramp up of production in the immediate future, but clearly next year we’re going to ramp things up on an S curve of production.”

Lucid is manufacturing the Air at a new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona. It’s building what’s expected to be a multibillion-dollar facility, which is the first greenfield EV plant in the U.S., in phases on a 590-acre site. The facility is expected to produce an SUV called the Gravity in 2023.

Andrew Evers

Lucid was founded in 2007 as Atieva, a name it now uses for its engineering and tech arm that supplies batteries to electric racing circuit Formula E. The company first focused on electric battery technology before changing its name and shifting to an electric vehicle manufacturer in 2016, three years after Rawlinson joined the company to lead its technology development before becoming CEO.

Lucid had some difficulty obtaining capital to fund its plans until September 2018 when it received $1 billion from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. It remains the largest shareholder of the company with about 62% of outstanding shares, according to FactSet.

The automaker is among a group of EV start-ups to go public in the past year or so. Others have included Faraday Future, Canoo, Fisker and Lordstown Motors. None have produced a saleable vehicle for consumers.

Lucid’s production start comes two weeks after Amazon-backed EV start-up Rivian began production of its first vehicle, a pickup called the R1T, at a factory in Normal, Illinois.

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