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GLOBALOUTLOOK CORPORATESTRATEGY


COMPANYPROFILE


LucidMotorsfights forEVsupremacy


CEO PETER RAWLINSON BELIEVES HIS IS THE ONLY FIRM WHICH CAN COMPETE WITH TESLA IN THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE TECH RACE. JACK CONWAY REPORTS


(EV) sector has motored ahead, with EV start-upsmoving forward with new factories and raising billions off the back of soaring stock prices. Unlike traditional automotives, the quest for EV supremacy is no longer a speed race. “It’s going to be downto a tech


W


race, and it’s going to be Tesla and Lucid in that tech race,” says Peter Rawlinson, chief executive and chief technology officer of California- based Lucid Motors, a start-up whose rapid timeline captures the enthusi- asmin the sector. Founded in 2007 as a battery sup-


plier called Atieva, the company shifted gears in 2016, when Mr Rawlinson joined the company. A former vice president at Tesla, he joined with the goal of applying the lessons he learned as the chief engi- neer of theModel S to build an even better electric car. Since then, the company has


secured a $1bn investment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, built a $700m plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, and opened a net- work of retail stores. The result is the Lucid Air, Mr Rawlinson’s next- level electric car, set to start produc- tion in December.


WECOULDMAKEAUNIQUE PRODUCTBORNOF THE DESERT, FORGED IN THE DESERT.CAN YOUIMAGINE THAT?


12


hile globalmanufacturing output has dropped sharply in 2020, the electric vehicle


Arriving in Arizona “We looked at about 65 sites, all across the US, and we had a number of selection criteria,” says Mr Rawlinson, explainingwhy the com- pany decided to build their plant in Casa Grande. He says that proximity to their


headquarters in California was the number one factor, but that the enthusiasm of Arizona officials was crucial to the decision. “I’ve got a great rapport with


Doug Ducey, the governor of Arizona, whomI’ve got to knowpersonally,” he says. “Actually we had senators Flake, McCain, and governor Ducey all at the same table withmeback in 2016, I had to pinchmyself. Isn’t that a landmark meeting?” Unlike Tesla, whose first plant is


a formerGMfacility in Fremont, California, Lucid opted for a green- field site—the first purpose-built EV plant in NorthAmerica. “Sometimes, rather than renovate that old cottage that’s a hundred years old, it’s sim- pler just to build a new house for yourself,” Mr Rawlinson says, citing the resources needed to repair and retrofit older facilities. Other considerations were access


to high-tech talent and proximity to Lucid’s supplier base in Mexico. “We’ve got quite a bit of parts being shipped north. Casa Grande and the Arizona plant are only 400 miles fromMexico.”


Born of the desert As Lucid puts the Arizona desert on the automotivemap, it is consider- ing doing the same for another desert on the other side of the world. With Lucid nowmajority-owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Mr Rawlinson says he hopes to help the country build out its own auto-


motive industry. “We’re having a chat about that


right nowat a very senior level, exec- utive level, within the kingdom,” he says. “It could be pure electric,” he adds, arguing that an EV industry could become a symbol of Saudi Arabia’s preparation for a future without oil. Heeven considers launching a


newproduct reflecting thecompany’s Saudi connection.“We couldmake a unique product bornof the desert, forged in the desert. Can youimagine that? Could be prettyawesome.” At the same time, Mr Rawlinson


stresses the company’s US roots: “First and foremost, we’re an American company. I think that we’re actually adding to America’s preeminence in this field, and I think that is a great thing for the US. All that [intellectual property] belongs here in the US.We’ve cre- ated this engine room of ideas and innovationwhich is going to keep on going. And that’s going to help the US over the next decade.”


Vertical integration Even with Lucid expanding in Arizona and possibly in Saudi Arabia, the industry thatemerges may look different from traditional automotivemanufacturing, with Mr Rawlinson saying that themost suc- cessful EV companies will be the more vertically integrated ones. “After the turn of the century,


after the millennium, a lot of car companies became less and less ver- tically integrated,” Mr Rawlinson explains. “I would seek to buck that trend, go for a little bit more vertical integration thanmany, but not the degree that Tesla’s going to.” While he thinks Tesla has gone


too far, he prefers its approach to the www.fDiIntelligence.com December 2020/January 2021


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