Lucid Motors, a new electric car company, announced at a press conference today that it would begin building its manufacturing center in Casa Grande, Arizona, in 2017. Parts and supplies for the facility will come from the state of Sonora in Mexico, which borders Arizona. The company’s headquarters will likely remain in San Francisco.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said that the company expects to bring 2,000 new jobs to Arizona and invest $700 million in the site by the year 2022. Brian Barron, Lucid Motors’ director of global manufacturing, said that Lucid will begin hiring for the production facility as early as next year. Barron noted that he himself is a Navy veteran and that Lucid has committed to training and hiring American military veterans for positions at the new facility.
During the parade of local elected officials and Lucid executives at the lectern, two of Lucid’s alpha prototypes rolled into the plaza in front of the Arizona state capitol building in Phoenix, where the event was held. The cars were wrapped in black-and-white graphic camouflage to disguise their exact designs, but the cars did drive out under their own quiet electric power (unlike Faraday Future’s much-hyped prototype).
Lucid CTO Peter Rawlinson noted that the cars will have 1,000 hp, which had been announced, and that a version with a 400-mile range will be available. Lucid had also previously said that the cars, which will be in production in 2018 according to Rawlinson, will have some autonomous capabilities.
Rawlinson also said in his remarks that Lucid used the opportunities in creating an electric vehicle from scratch to condense the drivetrain so that the sedan could be “reimagined and redesigned,” particularly regarding interior space. The prototypes that were shown today were fine examples of the sedan form, but they hardly broke any significant new ground in exterior design.
Given the resurgence in buyers’ interest in SUVs, it’s interesting that Lucid’s designers chose to work with a four-door sedan as their first vehicle. The most recent stats show that sales of SUVs and crossovers (which fall into the light trucks category) are all outselling cars as of October. This gap has been widening for at least a year, so it seems that any electric vehicle startup that can develop a zero-emissions small SUV or CUV to better compete with Tesla’s Model X would find a potential sweet spot in the market. That could still be Faraday Future, and it could even still be Lucid Motors.