Times weekly reporter Tan Lifeng from Guangzhou
Lucid Motors, once known as Tesla's biggest rival, is now planning a comeback.
On September 17, Lucid Motors announced an agreement with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (hereinafter referred to as the PIF) to invest $1 billion in strategic investments through special institutions wholly owned by the PIF. "This is an important milestone for Lucid Air towards mass production." Lucid Motors is so described in its press release.
In 2016, Atieva officially changed its name to Lucid Motors and began to step into the field of car manufacturing. Atieva was founded in 2007 by Bernard Tse, vice president of Tesla, and Sam Weng, Oracle's senior director, and was initially built to make battery packs for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
In 2012, the launch of Tesla Model S began to attract a lot of attention to the new energy vehicles, and then Model X, Model 3 came out one after another and sold well, which encouraged more and more automobile people to join in the upsurge of new energy vehicles. In 2014, Atieva entered the company as the first and second largest shareholders in the C round of financing to assist Atieva in its transition to new energy vehicles.
However, the trilateral cooperation ultimately yielded little tangible results, and Lucid Motors, after the renaming, was stumbled by the huge amount of money needed to build cars until the PIF entered the game.
It is noteworthy that PIF, which currently owns a 5% stake in Tesla, was seen as the most likely investor in Musk's earlier announcement that it was considering privatizing Tesla. However, PIF eventually invested in Tesla's rival Lucid Motors.
Despite the fact that Lucid Motors does not yet have a mass-produced model, challenging Tesla still seems like a fool's dream, especially as more and more new manufacturers emerge, Lucid Motors will face a more complex and challenging competitive environment.
Ex rival Tesla
With traditional luxury car makers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi stepping into the door of electrification, one of the hottest topics in the industry is how much opportunity the future leaves for automakers like Tesla. Now, the same is true of Lucid Motors, a California-based new energy luxury car maker.
The recent news that Lucid Motors has won a $1 billion investment in PIF1 has once again put it in the spotlight. PIF was originally seen as one of the key investors in the privatisation of Tesla, but now the Saudi Arabian investment agency has staked its chips on Tesla's "former competitors".
In 2007, Dr. Xie Jiapeng (10.080, - 0.41, - 3.91%) and Mr. Wen Shiming led a group of experts to create Atieva, using their extensive experience in battery management systems and control software in Tesla and Oracle to develop advanced high-power battery packs.
Statistics show that Atieva's team is basically made up of former Tesla executives. CTO Peter Rawlinson, for example, worked on Model S and Martin Eberhard, a former Tesla CEO, worked as a consultant to Atieva. In addition, Atieva has brought in a large number of research and development experts from Tesla, General Motors and Volkswagen as engineers. Until 2013, Attiva, a premium manufacturer of battery packs and power systems, began to focus on electric vehicle development.
In October 2016, Atieva officially changed its name to Lucid Motors and put on a brand new logo. Subsequently, Lucid Motors unveiled its first luxury electric four-seater Lucid Air, starting at about $52,500 after the federal tax break.
Adjusted by a large number of former Tesla executives, Lucid Air's various capabilities naturally point to Tesla. It is reported that the battery density of Lucid Air is higher and more reliable than that of its competitors. The basic Air can charge 240 miles (386 kilometers) and power 400 horsepower at a time. Future versions of 400 miles (643 kilometers) and 1,000 horsepower will be launched with full-drive systems.
Times found that Lucid Air currently only accepts bookings from Canadian and American consumers, and that if other consumers want to book, they need to list their global bookings first.
According to the plan, Lucid plans to build a plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, and start producing cars in 2019. The first phase will cost $240 million, with a production target of 80-10,000 vehicles. By 2022, the plant will employ 2,000 people and produce 130,000 cars a year. Lucid will invest $700 million in the plant.
Lucid spokeswoman Amanda Hundt said the company had raised three times, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, but continued investment was needed in the construction of follow-up factories and the listing of new cars. To this end, PIF entered the office just now to solve the urgent need of Lucid. However, according to the PIF, the first investment in Lucid Motors was $500 million, and the rest would be injected in two phases, based on Lucid Motors'production schedule.
With Tesla fully on the Chinese market by 2020, Lucid will certainly not let go of the world's largest new energy vehicle market. Doreen Allen, Lucid's sales director, did not respond to questions about whether the company would consider setting up factories in the Chinese market in the future, but confirmed that Lucid currently owns companies in both China and the United States.
According to public information, Atieva previously registered in Shanghai, China under the name of Jieyuan Green Energy Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., and is currently represented by Li Hongguang. In Lucid's official website, Li Hongguang is the vice president of the company's current business development department.
At the same time, Times also found that on January 15, Douglas John Coates and Douglas Allen Haslam became directors and supervisors of Jet Source Green Energy. The two also served as senior financial controller and vice president of human resources at Lucid.
Although the former Atieva headquarters and main R&D center were located in Silicon Valley, the company currently has a battery plant in Shanghai and a R&D center in Taiwan. According to the Department, Atieva's early battery customers include Xiamen Jinlong and other domestic bus manufacturers.
In February 2014, Beijing automobile and music company invested Atieva. At that time, Beiqi Group took a $100 million stake, accounting for 25.02%, followed by Lexus, which invested tens of millions of dollars. According to media reports at the time, Atieva had worked with Beiqi to launch an electric vehicle that competed with the Tesla Model S. Beiqi is responsible for foundry production and R & D technology, while Atieva is responsible for battery development.
"Atieva, which started as a battery management system, was the key to Beiqi at the time, because the new energy technology was not perfect at that time. It needed a better battery management system to improve the range of existing vehicles and battery stability." Industry insiders told TIME that unlike Tesla's Panasonic battery, Lucid's battery chemicals were developed in collaboration with Samsung SDI.
However, the cooperation was eventually aborted. In 2016, Beiqi Group transferred all its shares on the grounds of "strategic transformation", which is known to be accepted by Lexus. Previously, a senior NAIC executive who participated in the bilateral cooperation told the media that after the acquisition, NAIC found that Lucid's products and technology were far from mature, and eventually chose to transfer the shares. Beiqi group confirmed to the times weekly reporter that the cooperation between the company and Atieva has been terminated.
At the same time, the cooperation between Lucid and Tesco has also been shelved by Tesco's earlier debt crisis and other issues. In February, Jia Yueting told Tencent Prism that he was planning to sell his shares in Lucid. "If Lucid can sell, it can sell for about 400 million dollars." Times reporter asked Lucid whether Lucid still has an equity relationship with Jia Yueting, but the other side did not respond.
As you can see, Lucid is on the same track as Jia Yueting's Faraday Future, now that FF91 will be mass-produced next year after Hengda's stake, and Lucid Air plans to move to consumers next year. However, both Tesla and FF are now taking root in the Chinese market, Lucid to enter the Chinese market, but also need to obtain the test of production qualifications and other barriers. In addition, some analysts pointed out that after Mercedes-Benz, Audi and others began to launch their first luxury electric vehicles, such as Lucid, the new leading high-end brand of new energy vehicles, the future market space may become increasingly narrow.
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