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Tesla Challenger Lucid Motors Completes Phase 1 Construction of its ‘Future Ready' EV Factory in Arizona

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【Summary】​California electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors has completed the first phase of construction of its advanced factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, the company announced on Tuesday. The company calls the new facility “Lucid AMP-1”, which stands for Advanced Manufacturing Plant. Lucid says its Arizona factory is the first dedicated solely to electric vehicle production in North America.

Eric Walz    Dec 01, 2020 11:55 AM PT
Tesla Challenger Lucid Motors Completes Phase 1 Construction of its ‘Future Ready' EV Factory in Arizona

California electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors has completed the first phase of construction of its advanced factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, the company announced on Tuesday. The company calls the new facility "Lucid AMP-1", which stands for Advanced Manufacturing Plant. The plant will soon begin producing the Lucid Air sedan, the company's first electric vehicle.

The Lucid Air is an ultra luxurious electric sedan designed to compete with high-end models from Tesla, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi and Porsche. The top of the line Lucid Air Dream Edition will produce up to 1,080 horsepower from its advanced electric powertrain.

Lucid says its Arizona factory is the first dedicated solely to electric vehicle production in North America. Tesla's factory in Fremont, California is a former General Motors assembly plant that's been converted to produce electric vehicles. 

Construction of Lucid's factory continued at a rapid pace throughout the past year. The site was transformed from a greenfield to a dedicated EV factory in just a year. The company said the next steps will be the commissioning of production equipment and processes ahead of start of production for the Lucid Air in Spring of 2021. 

Lucid has already built full beta prototypes that make up its test fleet and is now transitioning to final series production of the Lucid Air, the company said. Lucid says the state-of-the-art AMP-1 was designed to be "Future Ready" which allows for expansion at the site to meet Lucid's future needs. 

Future expansion plans include adding a state-of-the-art, water-based paint shop and specialized infrastructure that can be expanded to meet the needs of all future phases of the factory itself. 

The next phase of construction is expected to begin in early 2021 for the production of Lucid's second electric vehicle, which will be an SUV. The code name for Lucid's electric SUV project is called "Project Gravity." The SUV is expected to enter production in 2023 in Arizona.

"We broke ground on the 590-acre Lucid AMP-1 site in Casa Grande, Arizona, on December 2, 2019, and slightly less than a year later we have completed the first purpose-built EV factory in North America," said Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO, Lucid Motors. "The effort and agility demonstrated by this team is truly astounding, as we're already commissioning equipment compatible with the Lucid manufacturing system to start production of the next-generation EV, the Lucid Air, in just a few months.

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The Lucid Air sedan.

Lucid's vehicle manufacturing system will utilize advanced processes for the Lucid Air sedan, including a riveted and bonded monocoque body structure that replaces spot welds, which Lucid says was inspired by the way aircraft are constructed. The process results in a more rigid body structure.

Like its rival Tesla, Lucid is building more expensive versions of the Air first, with less expensive versions to follow. The first cars built will be the limited production Lucid Air Dream Editions, followed quickly by Grand Touring and Touring models. The entry level Lucid Air Pure joins the lineup in early 2022 and starts at $69,900.

The first production cars for reservation holders will start coming off the Arizona assembly line in Spring of 2021. The factory has an initial capacity of up to 30,000 vehicles per year. 

Lucid said the Arizona site was selected for a number of reasons, including infrastructure, geographic location, and pre-existing automotive supply chain. In addition, the open space around the factory allows Lucid to easily expand the factory's footprint to increase production. 

A total of four new construction phases are planned over the next eight years which will increase the factory's size from roughly 100,000 square feet to 5.1 million square feet. Lucid said the factory will eventually be able to produce 400,000 EVs per year, enough capacity to become a challenger to segment leader Tesla, or any other automaker.

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An aerial view of the new Lucid Motors factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.

In July 2019, Lucid announced it hired Peter Hochholdinger from Tesla to serve as its VP of Manufacturing. While at Tesla, Hochholder oversaw the production of the Model 3, Tesla's first mass-market car. 

Prior to Tesla, Hochholdinger spent 24 years at Audi, where he rose to Senior Director of Production for the Audi A4, A5, and Q5, overseeing the assembly of over 400,000 cars annually. Rawlinson said last year that Hochholdinger's experience in manufacturing will help the company to launch the Lucid Air and other future models.

"In building this factory, we adhered to several important manufacturing philosophies, including the tenets of ‘Future Ready' and ‘On Time,' together which have allowed us to effectively manage our investment and build a brand new factory from the ground up," said Hochholdinger. "As we add new platforms and vehicles to our lineup, the planning that went into this facility ensures that we will always be able to keep up with growing customer demand for advanced electric vehicles."

Lucid's CEO also comes from Tesla. Rawlinson joined Lucid in 2013 after serving as Vice President of Vehicle Engineering and Chief Engineer of the Tesla Model S, working directly under Elon Musk.

Lucid Motors was founded in 2007 as Atieva by Sam Weng and Bernard Tse. The company originally focused on building electric vehicle batteries and powertrains for other vehicle manufacturers, but in 2016 set out to build an electric car that would rival the Tesla Model S. Tse is also a former vice president and board member at Tesla.  

The Lucid Air made its public debut at the New York International Auto Show in April 2017. Although the Lucid Air sedan is smaller than a Tesla Model S, it offers as much interior space as a large Mercedes S-class sedan due to its innovative and miniaturized electric powertrain, which frees up more space for the passengers. 

The Air also features a panoramic glass roof and a luxury interior inspired by executive jets with available reclining rear seats. Lucid says the Air will also come with hardware to support autonomous driving.

Rawlinson said in the past that the ultra-luxurious Air sedan will be the "world's most advanced electric car" and will define Lucid Motors as a company.

Now the pieces are in place to actually build it.

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