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Lucid Motors looks to beat Tesla in China

The electric-car company Lucid Motors is looking to take on Tesla and other luxury automobile brands in China, says Chief Technology Officer Peter Rawlinson. The company has developed a prototype of a $100,000-plus car with a 315-mile driving range.

Rawlinson was the chief engineer behind Tesla’s Model S, and joined Lucid Motors in 2013 when they decided to pivot from developing battery technology to manufacturing its own electric vehicles.

Production of the Lucid Air is slated to begin in late 2018 at the company’s manufacturing facility in Casa Grande, Arizona. Construction of the actual plant is expected to start the second quarter of this year.

Still, Lucid isn’t without its own air of mystery. The company has been operating without a CEO since late 2015. Bernard Tse, a former vice president of Tesla that founded Lucid Motors, left at the end of that year. It is due to a friction with state-owned Beijing Automotive Industry Holding (BAIC). BAIC used to be Lucid Motors’ largest shareholder with a 25% stake in the company. That stake was sold to another investor in March 2016, Rawlinson said.

Lucid might not be a Chinese car company, but Rawlinson said it’s poised to take Tesla on in China. Which is expected to see an uptick in electric car adoption in 2017 as emission standards tighten.

“We have a product that is so relevant to the Chinese market,” Rawlinson said. “Tesla hasn’t been as successful there.”

Rawlinson is correct that Tesla adoption in China has been tepid. Although it’s revenue in China tripled to $1 billion in 2016, Tesla sales in China are less than a quarter of what the company made in the US, according to Bloomberg.

But that could change, after Chinese internet giant Tencent purchased a 5% stake in Tesla for $1.8 billion on Tuesday.

The Lucid Air would need to compete with Tesla’s Model S P100D, which has a 315-mile range and starts at $134,500. But Rawlinson said he doesn’t see the Lucid Air as a “Tesla killer. Instead, it’s a luxury car that will compete with high-end automobiles across the board. That marketplace is worth $100 billion a year.”

Source: Business Insider (29/03/2017)

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