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Unveiled: Lucid Air, the $150,000 electric car challenging Tesla

By Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

Tesla considers itself the electric car technology leader, but there's a new competitor emerging to vie for that title.

The company is Lucid Motors, a start-up in Newark, Calif., near Silicon Valley. The car is the Lucid Air, an ultra-luxury ride with advanced battery technology that sets itself apart with posh accoutrements and a market-leading range of 400 miles - more than 500 miles in a special edition. The base model matches the top range on the Tesla Model S and the special edition exceeds it by 100 miles. It also boasts a top speed of 200 mph, should anyone need to drive that fast. The Model S tops out at 155.

Unveiled online Wednesday, the Lucid Air "might finally rival the Tesla Model S ... and challenge Elon Musk and his team," said Jessica Caldwell, an executive director at auto market researcher Edmunds.

It'll cost you. The price is $140,000 to $170,000. Sure, the vast majority of the public can only dream of owning such an automobile. But much of the cutting-edge technology that goes inside will trickle down to mass-market electric cars, which, by replacing internal combustion engines, will help fight global warming. That's something to think about when the trees are on fire and the temperature is 111 Fahrenheit.

More "affordable" versions of the car - meaning they'll cost a mere $80,000 - are scheduled for release late next year. Taxpayers will subsidize the buyers of these vehicles via a federal tax credit of $7,500.

The company is accepting $1,000 deposits. Deliveries are set to begin early next spring.

 

Lucid is run by Chief Executive Peter Rawlinson, an affable Brit who came up through Jaguar and Lotus and served as chief engineer for the Tesla Model S, the car that woke the world to the possibilities of an electric automobile.

The target buyer is someone who might otherwise consider a gas-powered Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan. Or a Bentley.

Rawlinson said focusing only on competition with other electric cars, such as the Model S or the Porsche Taycan (another $150,000 car) limits the market opportunity.

"We're competing in the worldwide luxury car market," he said.

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