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California EV Startup Lucid Motors Begins Construction on its Arizona Factory

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【Summary】California-based luxury electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors has begun construction of an assembly factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, the company announced in a blog post. Lucid said the factory will begin production of the company’s luxury electric flagship sedan called the Lucid Air in late 2020.

Eric Walz    Nov 08, 2019 2:30 PM PT
California EV Startup Lucid Motors Begins Construction on its Arizona Factory
The Lucid Air luxury electric sedan.

California-based luxury electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors has begun construction of an assembly factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, the company announced in a blog post. Lucid said the factory will begin production of the company's luxury electric flagship sedan called the Lucid Air in late 2020.

Lucid announced that the local Planning and Zoning Commission gave final approval of the company's multi-year master site plan. Land grading began back in September, and crews are currently drilling and forming the caissons that will provide the structural foundation of the facility.

During the construction of the factory, Lucid continues to work on the Air sedan at its Newark, California headquarters west of San Francisco. Lucid said he first members of its Casa Grande assembly team are working alongside our engineers at the Silicon Valley headquarters building the next generation of Lucid Air prototypes. 

Lucid believes that this early-stage collaboration will help to strengthen the manufacturing team and allows them to quickly identify and address potential assembly challenges well before production starts. Lucid is taking steps to avoid some of the manufacturing problems Tesla experienced when ramping up production of the mass-market Model 3 in 2018.

This advance team includes recent graduates of the Automated Industrial Technology program at Central Arizona College, a course co-developed by Lucid Motors. The college describes the course as "preparing students to install, adjust, troubleshoot, and repair a variety of industrial machinery used in manufacturing settings."  

Students taking the course gain high-tech skills related to electrical, electronics, mechanics, and computerized systems, according to the school's website. Lucid hopes the partnership with Central Arizona College will pay off in when the automaker is ready to fill high-tech roles at the new assembly plant.

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Construction on the Lucid Motors factory in Arizona.

Lucid's High-Profile Hires Came From Tesla

In April the Lucid Motors Board of Directors appointed Peter Rawlinson as its new CEO. Rawlinson retained his role as CTO, where he is responsible for all of Lucid's design and engineering.

Rawlinson joined Lucid Motors in 2013 after working at Tesla, where he served as Vice President of Vehicle Engineering and Chief Engineer of the Tesla Model S, working under Elon Musk. At Lucid, Rawlinson assembled a vehicle team that previously worked on the Tesla Model S. 

In 2017, Rawlinson told Bloomberg that "I have secured many of my key players. All my vehicle directors that report to me were with me at Tesla on Model S. So the team that's doing this knows how to do it."

In July 2019, Lucid Motors announced that it hired ex-Tesla employee Peter Hochholdinger to serve as vice president of vehicle manufacturing. Hochholdinger worked at Tesla overseeing the production of the Model 3. He was tapped to lead Lucid's global manufacturing operations, beginning with the plant in Arizona.

The Lucid Air Sedan

The Lucid Air sedan is targeting the luxury electric vehicle market. However, Lucid Motors positions itself as being less of a direct competitor to Tesla and more with luxury automakers Mercedes Benz, Audi or BMW, Rawlinson said previously.  

The Lucid Air includes a proprietary electric powertrain. The car's motor and transmission have been designed as an integrated system, developed entirely in-house by Lucid's engineering teams. Lucid says the air will offer world-class performance in acceleration and range.

According to Lucid, a decade of battery pack development have led to best-in-class energy density for an electric car. The company claims the Air is capable of reaching 0 to 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds while delivering 400 miles of range.

The Air also features a panoramic glass roof and a luxury interior inspired by executive jets with rear seats that can recline up to 55 degrees. The cabin is filled with many high-tech features, including a center-mounted touch screen display similar to the Tesla Model S to control most of the vehicle's functions.

In Sept 2018, Lucid Motors announced an agreement with Electrify America, which will give Lucid's customers access to a nationwide ultra-fast DC charging network to charge their vehicles.

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The Lucid Air's interior design was inspired by coporate jets.

Lucid Motors is Well Funded

Lucid Motors is one of the most well-funded electric vehicle startups, and is viewed as a serious rival to Tesla in the luxury electric space. In Sept 2018, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) agreed to invest more than $1 billion in Lucid Motors.

A month earlier in August, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted about taking Tesla private at $420 per share, saying that "funding was secured" in a now infamous tweet. The funding he was referring to was supposedly coming from Saudi Arabia's massive PIF fund, one of the world' biggest funds with over $300 billion in assets under management. Instead, the billion dollar investment went to rival Lucid Motors.

Outside of Lucid's factory update, the company has kept a relatively low profile over the past year. In 2017, Lucid Motors moved into its new 305,000 square-foot headquarters in Newark, Calif.

Lucid is one of several high-profile electric vehicle startups looking to follow in Tesla's footsteps. Other include Fisker Automotive and Faraday Future, as well as Chinese companies NIO, Byton and Polestar, the new luxury electric division of Volvo.

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