Lucid Motors and Samsung SDI have entered into a partnership in which Samsung SDI will be the exclusive supplier of batteries for the cars produced by Lucid. But these won’t be just any batteries. In a joint statement, the companies told Forbes they are collaborating on “next-generation cylindrical cells that are able to exceed current performance benchmarks in areas such as energy density, power, calendar life and safety.” The cells are also being designed to withstand frequent rapid charging, which can degrade conventional lithium-ion batteries.
“The breakthrough battery life demonstrated by the new cell from Samsung SDI will be of tangible benefit to our customers, particularly companies with ride-sharing services operating around the clock,” Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s chief technology officer. That last part is a hint that Lucid has plans to enter the lucrative carsharing and ridesharing business, along with Tesla, BMW, General Motors, Mercedes, and several other manufacturers.
It has been quite an exciting few months for the electric car company. In October, it changed its name from Atieva to Lucid Motors. In November, it debuted a lightly camouflaged prototype of what it says will be its first production car at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Last week it signed a contract to build a factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Lucid says its car has 1,000 horsepower, a range of 400 miles, and a 0–60 acceleration time of 2.5 seconds. It also is said to feature a cavernous rear seating area with more passenger room than the Tesla Model S, Mercedes S Class, or BMW 7 Series. Rawlinson says riding in it feels like traveling “in an executive jet.”
Prior to his work creating a high-tech electric sedan for Lucid, which changed its name from Atieva in October, Rawlinson was chief engineer for Tesla Motors and instrumental in the development of its Model S electric sedan. If Lucid can raise the funds necessary to build its factory and complete development work on its midsize luxury model, deliveries are to begin in late 2018. Rawlinson says the company intends to begin raising funds to build the factory and get the sedan ready for production early next year.
That could be the flaw in Lucid’s plan. One of its four principal investors is Jia Yueting, the high-flying Chinese billionaire who is also backing LeEco Motors in China and Faraday Future in the US. He recently cut his LeEco pay to a nominal 1 yuan (about 15 cents) a year to help deal with that company’s financial challenges. Work on the Faraday Future factory in North Las Vegas has been halted because the company has run out of money. Will Lucid suffer a similar fate? For now, people can be forgiven for wondering if the first production car from Lucid Motors will ever see the light of day.