The Lucid Air Dream Version May Simply Be Elon Musk’s Worst Nightmare
Sometimes you see something and the only thing you can think of to describe it is “yes they did”. That was the feeling when I saw the Lucid Air Dream Edition in person this week. “You got it.” By “it” I mean that they may actually have cracked the secret recipe for what makes a great electric vehicle (EV). While this is very good news for electric vehicles, it could be very bad news for Tesla.
Before I explain why Tesla is honestly the most successful EV manufacturer. It’s not even near.
Sure, there are traditional automakers either experimenting how to put an electric motor into what they always thought of as a car. This is how you get to the Chevy Bolt, the Nissan Leaf or the Porsche Taycan. In any case, these vehicles represent only a small piece of a much larger company with many other competing priorities.
I am sure that building an electric vehicle is difficult. That’s probably why no one has done it particularly well, with a few exceptions. Sure, there are a handful of companies out there trying, but most of the people reading this can’t name more than maybe one.
Because for most people, electric vehicles aren’t even on the list of what they think will be their next car. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that they’re unknown and range anxiety is a real thing (whether or not it should be is another conversation altogether).
Then of course there is Tesla, undoubtedly the most successful attempt to bring the EV to the mass market.
Tesla sells more Models 3 than all other electric car manufacturers combined. Incidentally, it sells more of them than the Ford Mustang. And that’s just a model. Nobody else competes on this scale. So you’d think Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, probably sleeps pretty well at night.
On the other hand, this Lucid Air Dream Edition could give him some bad dreams – maybe even nightmares. I know that says a lot about a company that most people didn’t even know existed. I promise you Musk knows.
Lucid Motors has been around for a lot longer than you probably think, though you’d be forgiven if you never heard the name. It was known as Atieva until a few years ago, but batteries and technology have been made for other manufacturers for more than 10 years. The VP of Engineering was instrumental in introducing Model 3.
This is one of the reasons it might actually be able to do what most other newbies to electric vehicles don’t – beat Tesla in its own game.
But it’s not just about the car, which by the way is very nice.
It’s a luxury car with 1,000 horsepower and a range of just over 500 miles. Sure, it costs $ 161,000, which isn’t exactly convenient for most people, but it’s only the beginning. Earlier this month, Lucid announced that the Lucid Air, expected in 2022, will start at $ 69,900 and achieve a range of 400 miles on 480 horsepower.
That’s still an expensive car, but it’s on par with the Tesla Model S in terms of price and slightly surpassing it in terms of range. Those two things – performance (mostly in terms of range) and price – are the two things that really matter to customers who may finally be considering buying an electric vehicle.
Lucid has clearly figured out which technology is more efficient and cheaper to manufacture than anything used by other EV manufacturers, including Tesla. Given Lucid Motors’ history as a technology provider to other manufacturers, it makes sense that Lucid can easily sell its motor and battery technology to other automakers.
A company representative pointed out to me that Porsche could easily reduce both the cost and weight of the Taycan while increasing its performance by simply replacing the Lucid rear engine with the one currently in use. Or imagine if a company like General Motors, which makes the Chevy Bolt, took Lucid’s modular battery system and increased that vehicle’s range to over 300 miles.
Suddenly there would be a lot more competition – and therefore pressure – that Tesla is facing. This was made clear when Tesla cut the price of the long-haul S model the same day Lucid announced prices for the Air. That really says everything you need to know about why you should be careful. Elon Musk, it’s obvious.
The opinions expressed by Inc.com columnists here are their own, not those of Inc.com.