Former Tesla Model S Chief Engineer Explains Design Of Lucid Air – Video

2 months ago by Steven Loveday 25

Peter Rawlinson, CTO of Lucid Motors and former chief engineer of the Tesla Model S talks about the new Lucid vehicle, and the contrasts of the two jobs.

Lucid Air

Lucid Air

Rawlinson says that the Model S was a challenge, because decisions (mostly regarding body style, size, interior layout) had already been made, and he had to work around them. With Lucid Air, he was able to start with something completely wide open and go where it took him.

The car is engineered to be the size of a compact car, with the interior space of a long wheelbase sedan. It is thinner, shorter, and lower than the Model S, but has the interior dimensions of a Mercedes S-Class. The car will be built in Casa Grande, Arizona and we should see production models available in early 2019.

As for pricing, Rawlinson said that it hasn’t been discussed or disclosed, but it will be easily “north of 100K.

He also reveals that the car could have been made more powerful. Although it is only 1,000 horsepower … the test mule that many have seen in videos is 1,200 hp, and could have been more!

The video features outstanding photography of the Lucid Air.

Video Description via Autoline Network on YouTube:

Peter Rawlinson was the chief engineer who developed the Tesla Model S. Now he’s taken on another clean-sheet design to develop the 1,000 hp electric luxury car for Lucid Motors. In the following interview he explains the different approach he took on coming up with his latest design, versus how he did the Model S.

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28 responses to "Former Tesla Model S Chief Engineer Explains Design Of Lucid Air – Video"

  1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    I wish Lucid Motors success, altho with a “north of 100k” price tag for the car, I don’t think it’s going to have much impact on the EV revolution. That EV market segment is already well served, and in fact is getting pretty crowded.

    Still, if they can give Tesla Motors some real competition — not in volume, obviously, but in engineering — then IMHO that’s a good thing.

    1. jimijonjack&jill says:

      They Should Build A “VOLKSWAGAN” Translation….”PEOPLES CAR” for the common Good.

      1. CLIVE says:

        Jimi, MB~EQ will have these guys for lunch.

        A people’s car is the better bet.

        Like a small ev crossover.

      2. Martin Winlow says:

        Unfortunately, ‘the people’ aren’t interested as evidenced by the glut of ridiculously cheap, small, used EVs – certainly so here in the UK.

  2. William says:

    Only 1000 HP? Should be just enough to keep the adrenaline rush flowing!

  3. Johnny says:

    This seems like the wrong approach. When Tesla didn’t exist, and all electric cars sucked, it made sense for Tesla to make an awesome car north of $100k. In 2019, it would have to compete with the model 3, the bolt, and the model S and X entering their 6th iteration, much more polish, much more refined. It won’t be able to get more bang for your buck than Tesla.

    1. Rich says:

      Spoken like a good Product Mgr. / Product Marketing Mgr. Good insight. It would have been interesting for Lucid to target the Cadillac Escalade market with an all electric 400 mile range vehicle.

    2. nosnoop says:

      But that’s the economic reality of a new startup company. Car manufacturing is not trivial, and Lucid Motor would remain as a small volume production company for the foreseeable future. The only way it can survive is to sell a premium product at a premium price with a healthy profit margin. You need very large sale volume to compete in Model 3/Bolt car segment.

      1. wavelet says:

        “The only way it can survive is to sell a premium product at a premium price with a healthy profit margin”
        Which means it won’t survive, of course.
        Absolutely noone, manages to sells high-end luxury cars (and by that the meaning is 6+ figure cars, not Lexus) without relying on snob-appeal from famous brand name.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          No one? Tesla managed to do exactly that.

          In the past, wannabe startup auto makers established a reputation in the race circuit before moving on to start building and selling cars. It’s too bad that the EV race circuit is too small and restrictive for that to be practical today.

          I really don’t understand why people keep posting comments suggesting that wannabe EV makers should not follow Tesla, which is the one successful new auto maker marketing in first-world countries in the last, what, 65 years or more? Do you seriously suggest they imitate companies like CODA and Th!nk, which tried to sell a downmarket car made in quantities much to small to be priced competitively?

          When you have to start out small as an auto maker selling to first-world countries, you have only two choices: The high upscale market, where a very high price won’t necessarily scare away potential customers, or extremely down-market with a low-speed quadricycle/NEV or a three-wheeled microcar. And I don’t think you can point to any great successes in the latter; even the few which have succeeded are more like cottage industries.

          The Ford Motor Co. didn’t start out with the Model T as its first car, and a brand-new EV maker isn’t going to start out by making an “everyman” car, or (literally) “volkswagen”, of EVs. A new company has to start with something less ambitious.

        2. wavelet says:

          The Model S/X compete against luxury cars in practice simply because of their price, but _aren’t_.
          They’re not marketed as such by Tesla, and don’t the interior/appointments of 6-digit luxury cars.
          We all know the reason for the high price: There’s currently no way to provide serious range without it costing $$$$ — particularly not serious range at decent performance; a strong-ish motor on its own doesn’t cost that much.
          Of course, Tesla only prices it this way because it doesn’t have a choice, and is planning on a big change, hence gigafactory. No luxury carmaker seeks to sell high 6-digits units/year of their luxury cars.

          Of course all these newbies want to replicate Tesla, but they want to do it with $150K cars, not $50K-$100K ones which was Tesla’s original plan… And that’s a not a scalable proposition: There’s no room for another 5 or 10 such companies in the market. By the time these players will have a luxury BEV car actually for sale, so will the luxury brands of several major carmakers.

    3. Someone out there says:

      I agree. For a new player to enter a market you need to try to deliver something new, something other players either haven’t thought of or are unable to deliver. Launching another “me too” car isn’t going to achieve much more than a “meh”.
      Thanks to the compact nature of electric motors it’s not hard to put 1000 hp in a car. It’s just a standard off the shelf component by now. The hard bit is having a battery that can provide enough power for the motors, both momentarily and sustained. What good is a 1000 hp car that is out of juice after just a couple of minutes?

  4. Vexar says:

    Battery prices are still too high for new companies. A luxury vehicle is all they can afford to build and hope to sell to turn a profit. Elio Motors is still dragging their feet to release an $8000 vehicle after how many years? Heck, even GM is losing $9000 on every Bolt they sell, making it up in ZEV credits.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Heck, even GM is losing $9000 on every Bolt they sell, making it up in ZEV credits.”

      That reads like one of those kindergarten-level fiscal analyses which lump the development costs in with the unit costs, which of course is going to give a false impression of the per-unit profit margin.

      The R&D costs for GM to develop its first BEV are not losses; they are investments in future sales. $9000 figure is probably overstated. But however much GM spent (not “lost”) on developing the Bolt, at least part of that will be recouped in every future model of BEV.

      An investment which results in more income at a later time is not a loss; in fact it’s the opposite!

      1. billn says:

        Actually, The loss may be overstated, but GM is farming out Most of the car’s components. Drivetrain and Batt to LG. Many others.Tesla brought all the most expensive items in-house using robotics to eschew foreign (low cost) labor. This is the new paradigm for efficient car making in the age of robotics (and Telsa bought an automation company). GM is still outsourcing globally and paying vendor profit margins, tariffs, shipping costs, while Tesla is sourcing even its raw materials locally to reduce costs. GM has little scale advantage on their Electric cars, Tesla actually has more leverage with 400K pre-orders. They also integrate their Design and Mfg teams at product inception to maximize assembly efficiency. GM will need a major overhaul to keep up in the long run. In the short run, they will not make a profit without ZEV. Who do you think is going to scale up faster?

        1. Someone out there says:

          Making things in-house doesn’t automatically mean profit. You need to make a lot of components for in-house production. I bet you that the bean counters at GM have done a very thorough analysis of what components are more profitable to make in-house vs outsourcing them.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “Who do you think is going to scale up faster?”

          Tesla is almost certainly going to scale up production of long-range EVs faster, because Tesla has the Gigafactory providing batteries, and GM has nothing equivalent, and nothing even in the same ballpark.

          But for cars which don’t need a large battery pack, GM certainly has the ability to scale up production of any individual model, or even several models simultaneously, much faster than Tesla does.

          Tesla has only one auto assembly plant. GM has dozens.

    2. Jake Brake says:

      Battery prices have dropped enough that post 2020 BEVs will be more economical than ICE. Not just for Tesla.

    3. Someone out there says:

      GM is not losing $9000 on the Bolt. They are making at least a $10000 profit on them. Why would they sell them outside of CARB states if they lost money on them and only the ZEV credits made it worthwhile?

  5. James says:

    Yawn. It will have a big battery but you won’t be able to drive it from its factory in Arizona to LA, only 6 hours away, because there is nowhere to charge it in between. Stupid.

    Give us some real cars, not more silly luxury sedans for crooked Chinese bureaucrats.

  6. Brent says:

    I like the look of the car. If they made a deal with Tesla to share their superchargers (something I believe Tesla has said they are open to doing), I might want one of these. The interior looks like much more luxury than you get in a Tesla. (But its only a 4 seater of course).

    I think there is room for a luxury EV above the Model S & X in price (but it will be low volume).

    The biggest problem for Lucid is they will be competing with Mercedes, Jaguar, Austin-Martin, etc who also will be entering the luxury ev market in a similar time frame, not to mention all the other new EV companies such as Faraday Future, etc.

  7. JIMJFOX says:

    NOTHING about the technology- just lots of waffle about interior space.
    Still, this site is named “Inside EV’s”….

  8. JIMJFOX says:

    2019 [IF it happens ] will miss the boat by several years; by them mainstreamer like Porsche, Audi, BMW will kill Lucid.

  9. CLIVE says:

    He looks stoned.

  10. r121 says:

    Making EV is easy, adding wow and differentiating features is tough.

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