Lucid exec opens up about sales, technology, and Tesla
California-based EV startup Lucid Motors is one of the most anticipated new automakers coming onto the scene. For those who've relished in the idea of an EV future, the brand needs no introduction. Lucid Motors and the Lucid Air look to be one of the few that can challenge Tesla and their new Model S directly upon its release. With the top-tier Lucid Air Dream Edition now officially sold out, we sat down Zak Edson, Senior Director of Retail Operations to talk about how Lucid is doing and where it plans to go.
From the Top Down
As legacy automakers have finally started their electrification efforts, there's been an explosion of new EV brands dominating the headlines. There seems to be two schools of thought regarding what an automaker’s first electric car should be. Should they start with a high-priced electric car and work their way down or should they start with an affordable electric car and work their way up?
Lucid Motors has opted for the former with their first car, the Lucid Air, which starts at $77,000 and inches close to $200,000 on the upper end. The company will focus on this luxury sedan before introducing an SUV alongside it. That said, there are plans in place for working their way down in price as the company intends to introduce mass-produced vehicles. We asked Edson about the benefits of this type of approach.
“… but I’d say the most important reason that we started the luxury side of the scale is because it enables us to build a product that’s truly captivating and, and that has a number of benefits. It, uh, it helps us as a new company in raising our profile, because if you produce something that’s truly desirable, people start talking about it and covering it and getting excited about what you’re doing…”
“…So that’s, that’s important for us as a company, but it’s also important for the electric vehicle movement, because the more that people are talking about EVs as being something desirable, again, rather than feeling like something that’s being forced upon you…”
The upcoming Lucid Air has certainly piqued the interest of many. This approach has been a proven formula with Tesla accumulating initial brand recognition with the Model S and X before moving down to the more affordable and mass-market Model 3 and Y.
Not only is it better from a public recognition point of view, but Edson also spoke on it simply being easier for a new company to gradually scale up.
Who’s Buying a Lucid Air?
The term ‘Tesla-Killer’ has been thrown around throughout the last few years but we wholeheartedly believe, in an EV-focused landscape, the term should really be something akin to an ICE-Killer. As Tesla's sales continue to climb regardless of growing competition, it has been proven that an EV sale is not a stolen Tesla sale, rather a stolen ICE sale. Lucid looks to capitalize on an ever-growing segment versus the competition within.
"…So definitely we’re seeing a lot of prior EV buyers, but of course we’re not successful if we don’t convert more people from internal combustion engines. And I don’t just mean business success again, I mean, our mission of inspiring adoption of, sustainable transportation. We have to convert people out of their internal combustion engine vehicles, and based on what we know today of our customers, I think we’re, we’re effectively doing that…"
Even with the segment's rapidly growing acceptance, EV sales are still relatively minuscule with a mere 1.8% market share in 2020. There’s a ways to go with more than enough space in the segment.
Direct Sales Model
Many new EV companies are moving forward with a direct sales approach rather than a dealership model, and Lucid is no exception. Edson remarked on the personal nature of their showrooms (which is something that we experienced first hand) compared to traditional dealerships:
“…there’s a clear advantage to going direct when you’re talking about an EV-only company because we’re, you know, we are having to change people’s mindsets. There’s an important education component to what we’re doing as we’re talking to potential customers. We’re not only trying to, you know, get them to buy a car, we’re educating them. So it becomes a longer lead conversation so that they can get to know Lucid better so that they can understand the benefits of an electric vehicle. So it’s very different than a typical experience where you, you might walk in the door and, and you can just know that their goal is to get you to buy a car right on the spot…”
On Lucid’s Competitive Advantage
Speaking with Edson on Lucid’s technological advantages, we were surprised to hear the Lucid considers itself a full generation ahead of the current EV leader:
"...I think that if I were to speculate, I’d say from a technology standpoint, particularly the EV technology, we’re at least a generation ahead of the current leader in EV technology, which then places us many years ahead of the rest of the players, because so many of the new companies aren’t developing their own technology…"
Edson says that Lucid likes to show what they can do rather than just talk about it, so the automaker must be really confident in their upcoming offerings and unrevealed technology.
More Range or More Chargers?
A popular debate in the EV community is whether more effort should be placed in expanding the charging infrastructure or increasing and EV's range. We personally have taken to repeating that “range doesn’t matter” (although I won’t be mad at a 517 mile Lucid Air) in regards to this discussion.
If people charge at home and chargers become as numerous as gas stations, then a 300 mile EV will be more than enough for most people. However, range anxiety is still widespread and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future so we won’t be surprised to see automakers continue to push the boundaries on range.
When we asked Edson and he echoed the same feelings with range initially being more important before public anxiety wanes and infrastructure is built out:
“…So I think range is really important from a perception’s standpoint and over time as a reality, it won’t be quite as important…”
Lucid has opted against building its own charging infrastructure and instead will rely on partnerships with third-party networks like Electrify America. As a company that is building one of the highest ranged EV’s ever seen but no plans for chargers, they clearly have a preference in priority.
With the Lucid Air starting its deliveries in the second half of this year, we don’t have much longer to wait to see if Lucid will make good on all its promises. For more of Zak’s thoughts and other questions we asked, make sure to listen to the full episode of our podcast.
An earlier version of this article appeared on EVBite. EVBite is an electric vehicle specific news site dedicated to keeping consumers up-to-date on any developments in the ever-expanding EV landscape.