But mass production of automobiles is a whole new challenge. Initial versions of the Air cost almost $ 35,000 more than a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S Plaid. To be profitable, Lucid must attract more than just a super-rich elite.
“Lucid’s biggest risks are scalability and capacity,” said Daniel Ives, senior analyst at Wedbush Securities who tracks the electric car industry. “The first phase was a great success. Now, this is the next level of adoption.
Lucid plans to offer a version of the Air next year that will cost $ 70,000 after a federal tax credit, and produce 500,000 cars a year by 2030, with a lineup that will include a sport utility vehicle and a pick-up. The company had spent $ 4.2 billion in June, and its prospectus said it might take years to make money.
To avoid the problems that plagued Tesla in its early days, when it assembled cars in tents for a time, Mr. Rawlinson relied on people like Eric Bach, Lucid’s chief engineer. Mr Bach, another Tesla refugee, worked at Volkswagen and takes a very German approach to manufacturing. He can explain at length the art of creating narrow spaces between bodies, the spaces between the sheets which, for engineers, are a guarantee of quality.
“We have no intention of pitching tents,” Mr Bach said, except perhaps “to throw a party”.
At the same time, the market is increasingly crowded. Automakers like Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen have invested heavily in electric vehicles.
Mr. Rawlinson has already confused opponents. He points out that some people doubted the success of the Model S, or said that Lucid couldn’t build a car with a range of 500 miles and take it out of the factory this year. “There is a track record here of me making claims that seem unrealistic but are absolutely science-based,” he said.
Success would have a little more sweetness for Mr Rawlinson, who left Tesla amid resentment with Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive.