Ucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson told Reuters on Tuesday that the premium electric car manufacturer plans to launch Tesla Inc’s Model 3 competitor in 2024 or 2025.
The group, headed by the former Tesla engineer, is pursuing the same approach as Tesla, beginning with a luxury car to create a halo around the brand and then spread to the mass market.
This week it unveiled intentions to go public by combining with a blank check firm, a development that suggested a market capitalization of $56 billion—before the start of daily production of Lucid Motors’ first edition.
Scaling up the development of mass cars is a big financial problem, Rawlinson said.
“I can’t wait to do that,” he told Reuters, referring to the rival to Tesla’s Model 3, it’s least expensive sedan. But first Rawlinson said he would for now focus on the luxury, bigger car, which paradoxically takes fewer resources.
“To make a smaller car requires more capital, because you need a bigger factory and more automation,” he said.
Experts say that it could be too late for Lucid to introduce an affordable model, as legacy automakers like Volkswagen, Hyundai Motor and Ford are already launching affordable models to challenge Tesla.
“There is a question mark over whether there will be a market left for Lucid after four to five years,” Mel Yu, an automotive industry analyst, said.
Lucid Motors’ first electric vehicle, Luxury Air, will not go into production until the end of 2021, when it was originally expected to arrive in the spring of 2021.
Rawlinson said that the carmaker plans to manufacture a smaller, sub-$70,000 version of the premium sedan in 2022, followed by a sports utility vehicle dubbed Project Gravity in 2023. He said he was involved in building pick-up trucks and industrial vehicles, but they are a few years out and must be developed with collaborators.
“The world needs $25,000 cars urgently. Lucid can’t do it for another eight years realistically,” he said, adding that even Tesla has not launched such a model yet.
He also said that six well-known automakers have reached out to him over the last month and shown interest in the technology of Lucid Motors. Cooperating with another company could lead to a $25,000 car being produced within the next three to four years, he said.
He also said that it is too early for the company to develop its own battery cells for now, adding that it has contracts with LG Chem and Samsung SDI suppliers.