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Saturday, Aug 13, 2022

Electric Avenue: Lucid Motors Adds to Local Cluster

Luxury electric vehicle manufacturer Lucid Motors has made its Orange County showroom debut at Fashion Island, adding to the area’s rapidly growing collection of upstart, and high-end, EV offerings.

Based in Silicon Valley, Lucid opened its first spot in OC at the Newport Center mall near the start of the month. It’s the company’s 21st showroom overall, with about half of those locations in California.

Lucid, which went public last year and sports a $47 billion valuation (Nasdaq: LCID), started delivering its first vehicles at the end of October. It reported revenue of a little more than $4 million in 2021.

The company is expecting a much higher rate of sales this year, as it ramps out a series of sedans dubbed Lucid Air, whose most affordable model runs around $77,000. It has reported reservations for 17,000 of those vehicles, whose milage tops 400 miles, and sometimes 500 miles, on a single charge.

Located around the corner from a Tesla showroom, Lucid’s roughly 3,200-square-foot studio at Fashion Island initially displayed its most expensive offering, a gold Lucid Air Dream Edition.

Starting at $169,000, with over 500 miles of battery life and a top speed around 168 mph, the limited-edition model is no longer available for reservations online.

The company’s line also includes the more affordable Air Grand Touring, Air Pure and Air Touring models. A test drive along Newport Center Drive is available, a route chosen to go along with the local luxury experience the studio offers, officials said.

The Dream Edition on display has recently been switched out, and now the Air Grand Touring model is featured in the studio, starting at $139,000.

Tesla Town

Based on local reservation numbers made for Lucid Air and its high-end Dream Edition, the Newport Beach shopping center offers a prime location for the company’s sales efforts, officials told the Business Journal.

“It was almost natural,” company representative Dave Buchko told the Business Journal on a tour of the studio before its official opening.

The store’s proximity to the Newport Beach showroom for EV giant Tesla, the world’s most valuable car company with a $920 billion market cap, isn’t a coincidence.

Tesla vehicles were the No. 1 seller in OC among luxury and sports cars in 2021, according to data from the Orange County Automotive Dealers Association (OCADA). Its Model Y (5% market share) and Model 3 (4.1%) were the two top-selling cars in the county last year.

Tesla’s 15,527 new car registrations in OC last year were up 67% from 2020 levels.

Its vehicle sales represented 9.7% of all auto sales in OC last year.

Tesla’s national market share was 2.1% in 2021; the 7.6% variance between that figure and its OC’s market share was by far the largest of any car type reported by the OCADA last year.

Room to Grow

Electric vehicle sales in OC totaled 17% in the last quarter of 2021, according to OCADA’s data.

Lucid executives say there’s only about 2.5% penetration into the U.S. vehicle market through EVs.

“We really do want to present luxury vehicles that are so compelling that people feel confident in their transition to EVs,” Buchko states.

Costa Mesa Cluster

It’s not just Fashion Island where Lucid has followed Tesla in Orange County.

Also recently opening in Costa Mesa is Lucid’s first local service and delivery center. It’s one of nine such locations for Lucid, and one of four in the state.

The Pullman Avenue location, just off the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway, is a few doors down from Tesla’s local service and delivery spot. It’s also within a block of Rivian Automotive’s forthcoming first delivery and service center in OC.

Irvine-based Rivian (Nasdaq: RIVN) is setting up its first local sales center—dubbed an “experience center”—at the former Laguna Beach South Coast Cinemas site. That store runs about 16,000 square feet and has yet to open.

A few blocks away from the Laguna Beach Rivian location is a new retail spot for Swedish carmaker Polestar, an EV offshoot of Volvo.

The Laguna Beach spot was Polestar’s fourth in the state at the time of its recent opening.

The EV firm is prepping to launch its first SUV, dubbed Polestar 3. A release is expected this year with a price tag around $80,000. It’s being built in South Carolina.

Next up is the Polestar 2, is around $40,000 after tax credits and is the company’s first high-volume offering. The sedan is seen as a competitor to the Tesla Model 3.

Lucid History

Lucid Motors began as Atieva, a battery manufacturer that turned to creating electric vehicles in 2016. The company made its EV start developing batteries for electric race cars.

“It was going to be the scrappy company who would push forward [and] expand the technology,” according to Buchko. Production of its first vehicles began in 2020. Its factory is in Casa Grande, Ariz.

The Lucid Air’s design is based on efficiency and sustainability for the luxury car market, officials say.

It has a range of up to 520 miles per charge, and only needs about 20 minutes for around 300 miles of charging.

Its golden exterior is one of 10 choices on display in the Fashion Island studio, next to the shelf lined with interior materials and finishing options.

If a client opts to stay in the studio, the location offers a 4K VR configurator, allowing a virtual reality experience as close to a dealership without the feeling of a lot.

Lucid studios are staffed with a team of around 15 members, all official employees of Lucid with no third-party sellers.

“[This is] too precious to put it in someone else’s hands,” Fashion Island studio manager Gabe Petersen said. 

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