Construction of a brand-new production plant in Arizona has now begun.
This time next year, there could be yet another startup electric car on the market. This time, it's Lucid Motors, which has been silent since showing its Air luxury EV back in 2016.
It appears things are picking up steam. The company said on Monday it plans to put the Air into production in late 2020. Further, construction has started on a production facility in Casa Grande, Arizona. Lucid said this initial construction period reflects a $300 million investment in the area.
Once cash-strapped, Lucid found an investor this past April. Now, the startup is flush with $1 billion, thanks to the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund. Since the company is private, it was not made public what terms were attached to the substantial injection of cash, but it's likely the Saudi fund gained a majority stake in the company.
"With supportive investors, an outstanding team of designers and engineers, and a product strategy that extends well beyond the Air, we expect today to be just the start of a longstanding presence in this dynamic city," Peter Rawlinson, Lucid Motors CEO, said of the ground-breaking this week.
If all goes as planned, Lucid believes it will create 4,800 new jobs, directly and indirectly from the plant, by 2029. By the mid-2020s, the company said it will invest $700 million in the area.
As for its first car, the Air will possibly have up to 1,000 horsepower and a 400-mile estimated electric range. A lower-spec model will likely come with a lesser 400 hp and 240-mile estimated range. The company has floated a starting price of $60,000 in the past and promised the electric sedan will implement the latest self-driving technologies.
The sedan launch comes as EV startups quickly turn to utility vehicles for marketshare. Tesla's Cybertruck is, obviously, a grand example. Elsewhere, legacy automakers will challenge the prospects of fledgling startups like Lucid. GM plans for 20 electric cars by 2023; Ford has its Mustang Mach-E ready for production next year and Volkswagen will launch its first electric SUV in America next year. And if there's anything Tesla has shown in this past decade, it's that building cars from scratch is hard.