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Tesla is Not Really a Luxury Car, Says Lucid Motors CTO

Electric car startup Lucid Motors CTO says that their core competitor is an S-Class Mercedes, not a Model S Tesla. “We differ in that we are truly a luxury brand,” says Peter Rawlinson, Chief Technology Officer of Lucid Motors. “If you look at Tesla they’re high-tech, they’re beautifully engineered, they’re very disruptive, and they’re premium price, but you only have to get inside a Tesla to recognize it’s not a really a luxury car. It’s a premium car but not true luxury.”

Peter Rawlinson, Chief Technology Officer of Lucid Motors Inc., discussed comparisons with Tesla, Saudi Arabia funding, and rumors of a Ford acquisition in an interview on CNBC:

Tesla is Not Really a Luxury Car

We’re on track and the start of production is slated for the end of next year in 2020. We’ll have a range of prices. The initial batch of cars that we sell will be highly specified so therefore they’ll average over a $ 100,000. But we’ll make progressively more affordable versions of the car available as we ramp up production. Our car is operating in a different sector of the market. It’s truly a luxurious car so we’re really you need to compare us with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, not something like a C-Class Mercedes.

An S-Class Mercedes is our core competitor, but a Model S Tesla would be a comparative electric model. But we differ in that we are truly a luxury brand. If you look at Tesla they’re high-tech, they’re beautifully engineered, they’re very disruptive, and they’re premium price, but you only have to get inside a Tesla to recognize it’s not a really a luxury car. It’s a premium car but not true luxury.

We start in production in Casa Grande, Arizona in late 2020 and we gradually ramp up production throughout 2021 and 2022. We’ll ramp production up from just a few cars to 50,000 units a year within two or three years. New cars will hit the road very early 2021.

Saudi Arabia is a Strong Strategic Partner

We’re delighted to have the public investment fund of Saudi Arabia as strategic investors in Lucid Motors. They’ve invested in the management team in the vision for the product, and in the technology that we have at Lucid. All our powertrain is designed and created in-house. It’s world-class technology and that’s what attracted them to us. They’re a great partner because in return we can work with them in enabling their vision to transition the economy of Saudi Arabia away from one which is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels. Moreover, together, we can create hundreds of high-tech jobs both in the state of California and in Arizona.

I really can’t speak for what moves they’ve made with Tesla. I can only speak for the relationship with Lucid and we’re very strong strategic partners. There’s a spiritual alignment. We both are very committed to really transition towards a more sustainable mobility model. We believe that the way to do that is first to make the very best car in the world, make it in the US, create a premium or luxury brand which is Lucid, and make that a global player. As a consequence, progressively make other models, other cars, which are progressively more affordable and then more people can benefit and we can actually have a meaningful impact on the environment and the impact that can have on global warming.

Moving the Way That Mankind is Mobilized

The key story is that we have an alignment, a partnership, to do something which is very meaningful and very good for many people, for this generation and for future generations, in moving the world of mobility, the way that mankind is mobilized, to a more sustainable model. I really believe that is our focus, that is my passion, and it’s something that we can do in partnership. The public investment fund of Saudi Arabia is enabling us to exercise that vision.

We believe that with the partnership that we’ve gotten, the strength of that partnership, and the future we have with a ten-year plan, Lucid can be hugely valuable we’re not contemplating a sale (to Ford or others). What we would contemplate is potential partnerships in technology. We think we have world-class technology that all the world could benefit from. A lot of the incumbents, OE’s, the traditional automakers, haven’t got the technology that we’ve developed. I think they could benefit from that. So I think that model would work, but a sale no.

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