Lucid Motors: The past, present, and future of the EV automaker
74 'Lucid Motors' stories
October 2016 - May 2021
Table of contents
Lucid Motors History
Formerly known as Atieva, Lucid Motors was founded in 2007 and is based in Newark, California, near Silicon Valley. As Atieva, Lucid was originally focused on developing batteries and electric powertrains for other vehicle manufacturers. Eventually, it had accumulated over 50 patents pertaining to its core battery system in the US alone.
By 2013, the company was a highly capable producer of connected battery packs and electric powertrains and began flirting with the idea of developing a car of its own. That is when Peter Rawlinson joined the team as Chief Technology Officer. Previously, Rawlinson has been the VP of Vehicle Engineering and Chief Engineer of the Model S at Tesla.
In 2014, Lucid garnered a nine-digit round of funding to develop its own complete vehicle. This included investments from companies like Venrock, Mitsui, and JAFCO — all of which remain investors today. According to Lucid’s website, the Atieva team then built a custom, 900 HP powertrain test vehicle. It remained ordinary looking from its exterior to stay unrecognized but could reach 60 mph in ~3 seconds with “a driving range that well exceeds today’s range limitations.”
Becoming Lucid Motors
In October of 2016, the company officially announced its intent to rebrand itself as Lucid Motors. Furthermore, the nascent automaker announced plans to produce an all-electric luxury vehicle.
A month later, Lucid officials, along with state officials from Arizona, announced plans for the automaker to break ground in Casa Grande on a $700 million purpose-built facility sitting on a 590-acre footprint. The first in North America.
Lucid calls this flagship factory AMP-1, an acronym for Advanced Manufacturing Plant. It is here that the company has developed and will produce its flagship EV, the Lucid Air sedan.
According to the automaker’s website, the factory design was implemented with a “future-ready” strategy in mind. According to Lucid’s VP of manufacturing, Peter 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.
That leeway to expand is apparent in footage of Lucid Motors’ new factory and hearing what substantial plans it has for the future. Phase 1, which was completed in November of 2020, has begun production on the Air sedan. It can currently build 34,000 vehicles per year.
In addition to AMP-1, Lucid also has a powertrain factory about six miles up the road. This location manufactures modules, battery packs, inverters, drive units, and wunderboxes (Lucid’s unique charging units). After manufacturing, these components come to AMP-1 for final assembly.
Lucid is already preparing for phase 2 of the AMP-1 facility. This expansion will provide further space for the automaker to build its upcoming Gravity SUV. Furthermore, vehicle production is expected to increase from 34,000 to 90,000.
This increase could also assist Lucid in its goal of delivering Air sedans to Europe in the first half of 2022. Phase 2, aka “Project Gravity,” is slated to break ground at the end of 2021, and complete in summer 2023. Lucid Motors plans to have four total phases for its Casa Grande facility totaling an estimated 5.1 million square feet and an eventual output of 400,000 vehicles per year.
Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia
In September of 2018, Lucid Motors revealed it was in talks with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) regarding a funding investment of over $1 billion.
Lucid said it planned to use the huge round of funding to complete the final engineering and testing of the Lucid Air model, fund the first-phase construction of the aforementioned AMP-1 facility, begin commercial production of the Lucid Air, and implement a worldwide retail strategy. This deal was completed in April of 2019.
Soon, news began to surface that the Saudi investment was apparently contingent on Lucid establishing a manufacturing presence in the country. Bloomberg reports:
“Lucid raised more than $1 billion from the PIF in 2018, an investment that was conditional on the firm developing a site in Saudi Arabia, the people said. King Abdullah Economic City is about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Jeddah, the country’s second-biggest city.”
The report states that the electric vehicle company is now discussing building a factory near the city of Jeddah:
“Lucid Motors Inc. is in talks with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to build an electric vehicle factory potentially near the Red Sea city of Jeddah, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The report states that the plan could still change and that Lucid is looking at other locations.
In 2019, Lucid Motors named Peter Rawlinson CEO of the company, while he also maintained his previous role of CTO. Toward the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, rumors began to swirl about Lucid Motors working behind closed doors on a SPAC merger with Churchill Capital Group IV ($CCIV).
In late February, Lucid finally confirmed the rumors and announced the deal, which will be bringing $4.4 billion in cash to Lucid at a $24 billion valuation. Here are the highlights of the deal:
- Transaction provides additional growth capital as Lucid brings the over 500-mile range Lucid Air luxury electric sedan to market and expands rapidly to offer a broad range of electric vehicle products powered by Lucid’s proprietary electric powertrain technology.
- CCIV and Lucid are combining at a transaction equity value of $11.75 billion.
- The transaction includes an approximately $2.1 billion cash contribution by CCIV and a $2.5 billion fully committed PIPE with an investor lock-up provision that binds holders well beyond closing. The PIPE is priced at $15 per share (a 50% premium to CCIV’s net asset value) with an implied pro forma equity value of $24 billion.
- PIPE investment anchored by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) as well as funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Fidelity Management & Research LLC, Franklin Templeton, Neuberger Berman, Wellington Management, and Winslow Capital Management.
- This transaction includes the largest-ever SPAC-related common stock PIPE.
- Lucid currently employs nearly 2,000 people, with 3,000 employees expected to be added in the US domestically by the end of 2022.
Current and future Lucid Motors EVs
While Lucid Motors has made huge strides in the past several years, it still has yet to deliver its flagship EV, the Lucid Air sedan. While the debut version of the Air called the Dream Edition was originally scheduled to begin deliveries in spring of 2021, Lucid Motors delayed its availability to a more broad timeline of “the second half of 2021.”
This move came with some controversy as the delay was announced shortly after the SPAC merger with CCIV, especially since CEO Peter Rawlinson had relayed that production was on track just weeks earlier. Rawlinson relayed that the delay was at the advice of CCIV, who told the automaker to take its time in delivering the first round of Air sedans to ensure they were top quality.
While consumers still wait in anticipation of the first Air sedans to deliver, Lucid has offered no updates as to when reservation holders might see one. Lucid Motors has, however, teased a second production model — an electric SUV called the Gravity.
The Air was first unveiled in 2016 as a prototype, with production to begin once the Casa Grande facility had been completed. In 2018, the Lucid prototype began to make headlines by smoking the lap times of production vehicles like Jaguar’s I-Pace at the Laguna Seca course.
Next, the Air prototype beat a Tesla Model S head to head in a quarter-mile race, clocking in at 9.9 seconds. Not to be outdone, Lucid’s tri-motor Air then beat the Tesla Model S Plaid prototypes track record at Laguna Seca. While Tesla eventually regained the crown of the fastest production vehicle, the performance from Lucid turned some heads and helped the automaker gain fanfare.
As the Air sedan moves closer to mass production at its new AMP-1 facility, there are four variations planned to deliver over the course of the next year. Here is a breakdown of some of their specs, sorted by anticipated delivery.
|Lucid Air Model||EPA est. Range||HP||Price*||Availability|
|Dream Edition||503 mi.||1,080||$169,000||2nd half 2021|
|Grand Touring||517 mi.||800||$139,000||Summer 2021|
|Touring||406 mi.||620||$95,000||Late 2021|
|Pure||406 mi.||480||$77,400||Early 2022|
At the end of a reveal video of the Lucid Air sedan, CEO Peter Rawlinson stepped off camera to reveal an SUV in the background. This was one of the public’s first glimpses of its second planned production vehicle, an SUV called “Project Gravity.”
Since then, not many further details have been made since the Gravity is not a production EV yet. However, recently discovered patent images closely mimic the concept Lucid has previously teased. Several patent images filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) show what a production Gravity may soon look like.