Lucid planning Tesla Model 3/Y competitor by 'mid-late decade'

'High-volume-family car' still a bit spendy at $50,000, though

Lucid Air Sapphire action front three quarter
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The next dish on Lucid's plate is the Air Sapphire (pictured). The dish after that is the Gravity SUV, entering production late next year if the horrors and the situations can stay out of the way. The dish after that will be a more affordable vehicle than either the Air sedan or Gravity, and Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson is out to ensure the public understands what this third dish is and when it will be served. He told Autocar, "After Gravity we’re going to do [Tesla] Model 3 and Model Y competitors. We think around $50,000, maybe $48,000 — something like that. It’s too early to say, but that’s the vision." He stresses the $50,000 mark is a goal, adding, "don't hold me to [that]." However, he also stresses how important an affordable car is to himself and the company in saying, "That is exactly why I go to work. I am not here to build an expensive car that only rich people can afford," and, "we’re going to compete in that market — high-volume family car."

The due date is "mid-late decade." Let's say five years, as a placeholder. As many have pointed out, an EV that starts at half a hundred thousand dollars is only competing with the flagship Tesla trim, either the $50,990 Model 3 Performance or the $52,490 Model Y, and those are 2023 prices. The crystal ball business is having the worst time since the invention of crystal, who knows what the value of $50,000 will be in 2028 or 2029 or what kind of car it will buy. For comparison, the iSeeCars Car Affordability Study puts the current limit of affordability at $36,217.

We do know that the plan is for many OEMs to be either entirely EV or EV-only for new models by then, a transition that could provide a more balanced landscape for Lucid's entry or obscure it in a mosh pit of competitors.

What won't change for Rawlinson is the quest for efficiency, the CEO saying what every serious EV player says, "The biggest impact on the mass market car will be with smaller battery packs." He doesn't talk up solid-state batteries or alternate chemistries, though, only extracting more gains. "[How] can we compete? Because we’ve got the most advanced technology, which means we can go farther with less battery, and the battery is the most high-cost item of an electric car. So if you can go a certain distance with less battery, you can make that car more cheaply than anyone else."

"My vision is could we get to six miles per kilowatt-hour?" he asked, noting that Lucid's at 4.6 with the Air. "If we could get six miles per kilowatt-hour and you only need 150 miles range, that's a 25 kilowatt-hour pack. That's a $4,000 pack particularly with a bit of industrializing scale and battery manufacture. That's what we need to make a $25,000 car and that's what the environment and the world needs urgently to get masses into electric cars. You need the $25,000 car."

We agree with the efficiency and inexpensive car, we're not sold on Rawlinson's other comments about how much range future drivers will "need" from a charge, numbers like 150 and 250 miles far too low. But it's too early to dice that up, let's get to the Gravity and see what the world looks like then.

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