Lucid Motors Facing Steep Climb To Roll Out Air Electric Sedan In Early 2019

The Lucid Air may be able to travel up to 400 miles per charge, but how long will it take to build and sell it?

The startup electric carmaker, formerly Atieva, turned heads last week with claims made for the upcoming Air “executive class” sedan and its impressive photo gallery. Now Lucid Motors is setting the target of early 2019 deliveries, but that might be stretching it a bit.

Production will begin in late 2018 from the new $700 million assembly plant in Casa Grande, Ariz., which breaks ground in the first quarter of 2017. Brian Barron, Lucid’s director of global manufacturing, did acknowledge during an Automotive News interview that it’s an aggressive timeline.

Barron had spent about 20 years working for BMW, including time spent at the German automaker’s Spartanburg, S.C., plant. Lucid Motors is confident that Barron can lead the way on the 2019 delivery date.

As in Spartanburg, Lucid faces the challenges of bringing a vehicle manufacturing plant to a community for the first time. The startup is working with community colleges in the Casa Grande area to train, certify, and hire workers to be ready to move production forward.

“When BMW came to South Carolina, there was no automotive [industry] there,” Barron said. “It was mostly textiles, so I learned a lot in 20 years as we ramped that plant up. That’s why I’m trying to front-load it with the training of the work force right now.”

The Arizona city has evolved from a mining and farming town to one becoming more attractive to outside investors. Being close to major freight rail routes and interstate highways connected to major ports on the West Coast is helping to sell the location.

Lucid is doing all it can to keep the process streamlined. One move in that direction is looking into having a third party handle some assembly inside its plant.

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Lucid is going through the historic challenge faced by startup automakers – grabbing attention and interest in the market and then building the cars within a realistic timeframe at a cost the company can survive. The company is poised to build a factory from scratch in a short period of time needed for manufacturing cars.

Lucid Motors also faces the task of competing with Tesla Motors and startups like Fisker Inc., Karma Automotive, and Faraday Future, preparing to enter the high-end luxury electric car market. The first 255 units scheduled to roll out in early 2019, a limited-run “launch edition,” will be priced at about $165,000.

“We feel the timing for us right now is spot on,” Barron said. “We’ve got to get out there as quick as we can to establish our brand.”

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