He helped build Tesla. Now he hopes to do the same in Lucid.
But mass-producing automobiles are a challenge of a different magnitude. Early versions of the Air cost about $35,000 more than a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S Plaid. To be profitable, Lucid must appeal to more than just an ultra-wealthy elite.
“Lucid’s biggest risks are getting to scale and capacity,” said Daniel Ives, a senior analyst at Wedbush Securities that follows the electric car industry. “The first phase has been quite successful. Now it’s about the next level of adoption.”
Lucid plans to offer a version of the Air next year, which will cost $70,000 after federal tax credits, and produce 500,000 cars a year by 2030, with a lineup that includes a sport utility vehicle and A pickup will be included. The company had burned up to $4.2 billion as of June, and its prospectus noted that making money could be years away.
To avoid the problems that plagued Tesla in its early days, when it was briefly assembling cars in tents, Mr. Rawlinson is relying on people like Lucid chief engineer Eric Bach. Mr Bach, another Tesla refugee, has worked at Volkswagen and takes a very German approach to manufacturing. He can elaborate on the art of achieving narrow body gaps, the space between sheet metal that engineers a measure of quality.
“We do not intend to set up any tents,” said Mr. Bach, except perhaps “to have a party.”
At the same time, the crowd in the market is also increasing. Automakers such as Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen have invested heavily in electric vehicles.
Mr. Rollinson has confused opponents before. He points out that some doubted that the Model S would be successful, or that the Lucid couldn’t build a car with 500 miles and went out the factory doors this year. “I have a track record of making claims that seem unrealistic but are based entirely on science,” he said.
The success would be an added sweetness for Mr. Rollinson, who left Tesla amid an altercation with the company’s business chief executive, Elon Musk.
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