Lucid Motors Just Fell Another Step Behind Tesla

Photo: Lucid
Photo: Lucid

Yesterday Lucid’s CTO admitted that his company didn’t have enough money (yet) to start building its proposed factory. Lucid will face a delay until it raises more funds, which is a worrying part of the tortoise versus the hare side of the electric car world.

Lucid’s CTO Peter Rawlinson is one of my favorite auto execs because he was not only the lead engineer for the world-beating Tesla Model S, he was also the lead engineer at Lotus in the mid-1990s and he still maintains that his cars must handle and ride well, not just perform well on a spec sheet. Also, he’s brutally honest and open with the press. Rawlinson explained to Automotive News yesterday at the New York Auto Show that his company is too strapped for cash to break ground on its proposed factory site in Arizona:

The nascent carmaker unveiled its Air prototype in December and had said it would start production of its all-electric luxury sedan in 2018. That timeline has slipped a bit — Lucid wants to secure its next series of financing before breaking ground on a plant in Arizona, then debut the car in 2019, according to chief technology officer Peter Rawlinson.

“We don’t have the money in place. That’s why we need to secure Series D in order to execute this,” Rawlinson, who led engineering of Tesla’s Model S sedan, said Thursday at the New York auto show. “It would be irresponsible to start moving earth or start anything until we have a financial runway to execute that professionally and with absolute integrity.”


Worryingly, this almost exactly mirrors statements that Lucid made to the press back at the LA Auto Show late last year.

Rawlinson went on to say that even from the moment Lucid secures Series D fundraising, it’ll be a good two years before production starts on the company’s Lucid Air.

And this is a big problem for Lucid as it’s chasing a moving target. Sure, the Lucid Air is a wonderful car, more spacious and luxurious and powerful and with more range than even the highest-level Tesla P100Ds of the moment. But the Lucid Air is only marginally better than the Tesla of 2017. Tesla has two years to improve its cars before Lucid can actually hit the market.


Still, if there’s one thing to admire about Lucid Motors, beyond the 1,000 horsepower claim, beyond the 217 mile per hour tested speed, it’s that the company is straight up and honest.That’s more than I can say of some other Chinese-backed, California-based EV startup that I can think of, which did indeed break ground on a factory despite clear and repeated money problems.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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I don’t understand these EV startups. They’re all trying to mimic Tesla is a very different company today than it was 10 years ago and they couldn’t have become today’s Tesla if it wasn’t for the baby steps they took back then. These new guys all either focusing on high volume mid-luxury or Ferrari competing supercars. What they need to make is a damn Tesla Roadster!

Make a fun, fast-ish sports car for under, say, $80K. Since it’s not meant to be the owner’s only car/daily driver, it doesn’t need the battery range of a family sedan. Go contract with Toyota for some GT-86 chassis, make some cool new sheet metal for it and throw in a small battery pack and an electric motor or two. Market the thing to cool dentists who need a standout weekend track car or mountain tourer (something that isn’t the same old Boxter/Caymen/718 that all their friends have). Don’t worry about all that autonomous tech and slick touch screen interfaces just yet. Work on them, but don’t put them in this car. The money you make from your Lecto-yota plus the investors you get from your new market visibility will make it SO much easier to do the cars you’re trying to make today. Plus, you would rather get the kinks out on your low volume upper class toy than on your upper-middle class family of four daily driver!