Lucid Motors is going public to help bring its Tesla Model S rival to market, with an SUV coming later.
Much as Faraday Future, Fisker and Lordstown Motors have done, Lucid Motors has merged with a special purpose acquisition company – often called a “blank cheque” company – to raise money without going through a traditional initial public offering.
The US$24 billion (A$30.36 billion) deal is one of the largest private investment in public equity (PIPE) transactions ever and the largest for an electric vehicle start-up.
There was an inauspicious start, however, with share prices of the SPAC company, Churchill Capital Corp IV, falling by more than 30 per cent after details of the deal were released.
The share price slump came despite investor excitement having reached a crescendo, share prices for Churchill having skyrocketed by almost 500 per cent this year.
Lucid says the “reverse merger” will give the company US$4.4 billion (A$5.56 billion) in cash.
Production of the Air will begin in the northern spring of this year, with sales beginning in the US by year’s end. The company also plans to introduce it to Europe and China, though no Australian launch has been confirmed.
The Air will be joined by the Gravity SUV in 2023.
The cash raised will also be used to expand the company’s manufacturing facility in Arizona, which is the first greenfield purpose-built EV manufacturing facility in North America, with Tesla, Rivian and Lordstown all using factories that once produced internal combustion engine vehicles.
The Casa Grande factory, located just south of Phoenix, has been designed to eventually produce approximately 365,000 units annually at scale.
Lucid also wants to supply its EV technology to third parties such as other automakers, while it also plans to develop and offer energy storage solutions for residential and commercial use.
The company currently employs nearly 2000 people including those in its directly-owned retail locations, and plans to hire an additional 3000 personnel in the US by the end of 2022.
Peter Rawlinson continues to helm the company, serving as both CEO and CTO.
He was the chief engineer for the Tesla Model S, working for that now thriving start-up from 2009 until 2012, and is among several ex-Tesla executives working at Lucid.
The Lucid Air will be priced between the equivalent of $110,000 and $230,000 in the USA.
Four variants will be offered: Air, Touring, Grand Touring, and Dream Edition.
The base Air has 357kW of power and 653km of range, while the flagship Dream Edition has 805kW of power and 748km of range.
Lucid will offer its DreamDrive driver assist and active safety suite as standard, which includes a standard high-resolution 124-beam LIDAR and full-surround radar and 32 sensors and cameras.
The Air’s 900V DC charging means it can gain 32km of range every minute, or 483km in just 20 minutes on a 350kW ultra-rapid charger.
Lucid has developed all its electronics, batteries and motors in-house and touts the small size and efficiency of its components, allowing for a larger cabin and more range from the 113kWh battery.
Deliveries of the Air were originally meant to start in 2018, but money troubles forced Lucid Motors to put its plans on hold.
After struggling to fund its Arizona factory, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund invested US$1.3 billion, reportedly in exchange for majority ownership.