Q: Before we talk about the long-term future of EVs, let's start with the short term. How has COVID- 19 affected your work?
A: It has forced us to change and evaluate how we conduct the creative process. I'm probably a bit old-school in that regard, because I really do like everybody in the environment. I like to have content on the walls around us, and being able to engage on a dynamic level. I find that quite difficult on Zoom calls. Even if half the group is together and the other half is remote, that makes a difference. We can work remote in the future if needed, but given the choice, I'm always going to push for in-person studio interaction.
A lot of your recent work involves the Lucid Gravity SUV. Where does that stand? What do consumers want out of a luxury electric SUV?
Oftentimes with SUVs, it's the primary family vehicle. Even on the luxury-consumer side, that means this vehicle has a lot of daily tasks as well as weekend adventure or weekend getaway tasks. So range.
That range topic, I always put that at the very, very top of the list. To me that means 400-miles plus. You know, it has to have that at a minimum because people are going to use this thing. It's going to be a family workhorse in a lot of cases.
Three things have to add up: awesome range, tons of space and super fun to drive. These are some real fundamental things that most people will be pretty excited about, and it will get them out of internal combustion vehicles, because they can't often match on those topics.
What's changing with regard to space inside the vehicle?
You have these really large batteries, and large batteries mean a longer wheelbase. The longer wheelbase means more space inside the car. It's a chain reaction of things that are just going to change the car as we know it forever.
You have this EV architecture. Incredibly compact drivetrain components that can be really pushed away from the driver compartment.
We've done this very specifically with Air, because it's midsized on the outside and a full-sized luxury sedan on the inside.
This is enabled by electrification, and specifically in our case, our components. That's unique to us right now. If I look 10 years into the future, that will be the common formula.
Does this seem like a pivotal time in auto design, not just offering more space, but doing something with it?
Right now is a really great time in auto design. There is a wide range of aesthetics in our industry right now, and I think some of that has to do with electrification, just because it's forced designers and car companies to reevaluate what is the aesthetic in this new era.
Is there a balance to that? Do you want consumers to think of the car as a totally new product? Or do you want them to think it's the same product, just with a new power source? Is something totally new too big of a leap in a showroom?
As an industry, we have to do both in this transitionary period. The ideal scenario is we get as many consumers as possible transitioning over to EVs as quickly as possible. I just have that view. It's core to our mission. The question is, how do you do that?
At the luxury end of the market, I think consumers want to have some differentiation. They want the vehicle to express its technology, its performance, its luxury, and it's important that statement comes across in an elegant way.
There's other folks — you can look at the pickup truck market, and I think that's a good example of where maybe they don't want something that's a completely different format, but they'd appreciate the great attributes that come from electrification.