Weekly Brief: BEVs Light Up Luxury and LCV Markets

The most expensive electric vehicle in the world is ready for market.

The first customer-grade Lucid Air sedans trundled off the assembly line at Lucid Motors’ manufacturing plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, last week. The Lucid Air comes with an impressive EPA-rated range of 520 miles per charge and an equally whopping price tag of $169,000 for the Dream Edition. The EV maker plans to start shipping vehicles this month.

The milestone caps a 14-year journey for Lucid Motors, which began as a battery maker named Atieva back in 2007. In 2016 the company shifted its attention to developing its own luxury EV to rival Tesla. It poached one of Tesla’s top engineers and raised hundreds of millions of dollars, only to run out of money within 24 months. In 2018 Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund rescued the start-up from the brink of disaster. In July 2021 the company raised an additional $4.5Bn when it went public via a SPAC [special purpose acquisition company]. Now it’s finally ready for market.

For those customers who find its sticker price off-putting, Lucid also will offer an entry-level Lucid Air Grand Touring edition, which will cost a more modest (gasp) $139,000. The company plans to increase manufacturing capacity at its Arizona factory to 90,000 vehicles a year by 2023 and to introduce an electric SUV called the Gravity. That vehicle has an expected price range from $80,000 to $200,000.

Will customers be willing to shell out that sort of money for a luxury EV when there are less expensive but equally excellent and more proven brands to choose from? Lucid Motors is gambling that there are; or at least are enough that the brand can build up awareness and cache before introducing vehicles at a more accessible price, much like Tesla did last decade. The challenge for Lucid is that the playing field for luxury EVs is much more crowded now, not just with Tesla but with the likes of Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Polestar and, coming soon, Rolls-Royce.

BMW announced last week that Rolls-Royce will go all electric by 2030 – quite a commitment given that there’s not a single electric Rolls-Royce on the road today. To that end, the brand revealed that its first EV will be a two-door coupe named the Spectre, in keeping with its tradition of spookily named rides like the Phantom, the Ghost and the Wraith. The Spectre will replace the Wraith in the Rolls Royce lineup when it comes out in 2023. Paul Myles has the details on Rolls-Royce and on Ford, which announced an $11.4Bn investment in EVs last week that will fund two new EV battery parks in Kentucky and a new EV factory in Tennessee.

Now let’s shift our attention from the luxury segment to the last-mile market, where the race is on to get the first electric delivery vans on the road in America. Two weeks ago Electric Last Mile Solutions shipped its first batch of 1,000 all-electric Urban Delivery vans to a strategic distribution partner, Randy Marion Automotive Group. Last week General Motors responded by completing its first production builds of the BrightDrop EV600 electric delivery vans. The build completion comes just 20 months after GM first announced the vans and represents the fastest vehicle program to market in GM’s history.

GM plans to get a fleet of EV600s to FedEx in time for the holiday rush. The company also unveiled a new addition to its vehicle lineup, the EV410, a mid-size eLCV designed for smaller, more frequent trips. Verizon, one of the largest fleet operators in the US, is the first customer slated to integrate the EV410 into its field maintenance and service fleet. Both the EV410 and the EV600 have claimed ranges of 250 miles.

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