"We're overtly, unashamedly targeting Mercedes-Benz," Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson told Automotive News last week. "For the Lucid Air, the natural competitor is an S-Class Mercedes. For the Air Dream Edition, it's the AMG version of the Mercedes — but with a lot more performance and a lot cooler."
Lucid plans 20 brand stores across North America by the end of 2021 to tap into the high-end market, starting with the Air next year and an SUV two years later. They also plan exports, eventually to China.
The launch vehicle — the Air Dream Edition — offers 1,080 hp and up to 500 miles of range for $169,000 before EV credits and shipping costs. Deliveries of the limited edition are expected in spring 2021. More modest Grand Touring and Touring trims will follow later that year. The base Air, at $77,400 before EV credits and shipping, is set for production in 2022, also at Lucid's new Arizona factory.
Lucid claims the Air will be the quickest luxury sedan on the market, with a 9.9-second quarter-mile run. It also will have industry-leading range from its 113 kilowatt-hour battery, the fastest charging available at 350 kilowatts, the biggest front trunk and it will be the world's most aerodynamic production luxury vehicle.
"We've replaced range anxiety with range confidence and we've done so through efficiency — not extra batteries," said Rawlinson. "It's really difficult to get extra range through extra efficiency, but we've done that through our in-house technology."
While the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan EV are obvious competitors, Lucid is targeting the broader $100 billion global market for large luxury sedans and plans to export to Europe and the Middle East by 2022, said Rawlinson, former chief engineer for the Tesla Model S.
One advantage of the Air over the S-Class and other rivals, Rawlinson said, is space efficiency. The Air is smaller on the outside but bigger on the inside. That was made possible through the miniaturization of the Air's EV components compared with gasoline-powered cars and even other EVs.
In contrast to tech-heavy Tesla with its relatively spartan interiors and lack of physical buttons, Lucid is stressing more luxurious materials, immaculate fit and finish and rich paint quality — along with high-resolution screens across the dash and center stack. The main screen measures 34 inches.
The Air was formally revealed in September, four years after the first prototype was made public. Lucid's final step toward production was made possible by a more than $1 billion investment by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia that closed in early 2019.
Rawlinson suggested in an interview that the investment was much more than $1 billion — "maybe even" more than $1.3 billion, he said when pressed. Lucid is being very careful with those funds, he said, building only the first phase of its Arizona factory to meet a 2021 production goal of 8,000 cars or so.
At the September launch of the Air, Lucid also gave an early look at a stylish SUV it is developing on the same platform. Lucid said the vehicle, called Project Gravity, would arrive in 2023. The EV startup also is developing a smaller vehicle platform for more affordable cars and crossovers, Rawlinson said.