American EV start-up Lucid Motors will turn its attention to developing affordable mainstream electric cars following the market launch of its flagship Air saloon.
Speaking at the SMMT Electrified conference, CEO Peter Rawlinson confirmed that the company will make cars “progressively more affordable in progressively increasing numbers” once production of the Air is under way in the second half of 2021.
Rawlinson, who served as chief engineer for the Tesla Model S, said: “Our factory in Arizona is capable of being expanded from its current guise of 34,000 units per annum. We’re taking this model: start with a high-end product and gradually make it more affordable.”
He believes the entry cost is the key driver for wider EV adoption: “I have a clarity of vision to get to the mythical $25,000 [£18,200] electric car. And it’s going to take one thing to drive it: technology.”
Cost of ownership and battery efficiency are, Rawlinson said, the overarching considerations for EV makers and users. But Rawlinson took issue with rival manufacturers’ “myopic” focus on battery costs.
While he acknowledged the importance of affordable battery technology, Rawlinson suggested that the immediate focus should be on the efficiency of the cells.
He said: “How many miles I can travel per kilowatt hour?” What’s a good number? We’re achieving 4.5mpkWh with a relatively luxurious car like the Lucid Air.
“Just imagine if we can get to 6mpkWh with a more affordable car. I believe this figure is going to be the enabler which is going to drive that pendulum swing towards widespread mass adoption.
“If I can double efficiency, I can go the same range with half the battery size. That would halve the battery cost and would halve the weight of the battery. Surely that’s better than just carving battery costs?”
In a stark warning to the rest of the car industry, Rawlinson said there would be “blood on the carpet” if the industry as a whole doesn’t embrace electrification.
“It’s all going to be about technology and efficiency. The companies who embrace that will be the winners.
“This is a race all of us cannot lose. We all breathe the air, and for future generations we need that clean air. I see the technology that underpins EVs as the big driver, which gives me enormous hope and optimism for the future.”
The Air is due to touch down in the UK later this year with a choice of four powertrain outputs, ranging from 395bhp to 1065bhp at the top end. Lucid claims that it is one of the world’s most aerodynamically efficient luxury cars, the fastest-charging EV on sale and the first electric saloon to be capable of covering a quarter-mile in less than 10sec.