Just as Faraday Future struggles to get its plant off the ground, another Chinese-backed electric car startup based in the United States has chosen a location for its own plant.
The company is Lucid, formerly known as Atieva, and on Tuesday it announced plans to build a $700 million plant in Casa Grande, Arizona. Along with the announcement, Lucid revealed a pair of prototypes for its first model, a high-performance electric luxury sedan to rival the Tesla Model S.
Casa Grande, just south of Phoenix, was selected from a field of 60 sites across 13 states due to its “pro-business mindset,” available workforce, and nearby academic institutions, Lucid said in a statement. The company’s headquarters are located in Silicon Valley.
Lucid hopes to start construction of the plant in 2017 and have the first cars in production as early as 2018. That’s an ambitious schedule, especially given the delays more stablished companies like Tesla have experienced. The ace up Lucid’s sleeve is BMW veteran Brian Barron. During his 18-year stint with the German automaker, Barron saw the successful launch of various models at plants in Germany and the U.S.
Lucid’s sedan is similar in size to a BMW 5-Series, though thanks to clever packaging it should have interior space closer to that of a 7-Series. Some teaser shots reveal a high-tech look with a light and airy cabin.
The powertrain will consist of two electric motors, two sets of power electronics, two gearboxes, and a lithium-ion battery stored in the floor. The battery will have a capacity of 87 kilowatt-hours and should see the sedan’s range hit 300 miles or more. The most powerful version of the car, which could be called an Atvus, is expected to be in the vicinity of 900 horsepower.
Lucid has already demonstrated the performance of its powertrain using a Mercedes-Benz van as the test mule. The vehicle was able to hit 60 mph in 2.94 seconds and pass the quarter mile in 11.3 seconds at 117 mph. The final sedan should be even quicker as it is expected to weigh around 1,000 pounds less and be more aerodynamic than the Mercedes van-based test mule.
Although one of Lucid’s backers is Chinese tech giant LeEco, which is facing financial pressures due to its costly investment in Faraday Future as well as a Chinese electric car startup, the company also counts Venture Rockefeller, Mitsui & Co. and Beijing Auto among its investors. Lucid also has more experience in the industry, having for years developed monitoring and control software for battery packs used in electric cars from other companies.