Start-ups have it rough. They've got to have stellar ideas, carry out loads of market research, design sexy prototypes, and schmooze their little tuchuses off to win money from venture capitalists.
It's doubly hard to be a start-up in the complicated world of automobiles, and one of the newest kids on the block seems ready to throw in the towel--or at least sign itself over to a company with more experience and resources.
The kid in question is Lucid Motors, formerly known as Atieva. Like other electric car companies that have popped up in recent years, Lucid desperately wants to be seen as a so-called "Tesla killer." (That may be due in part to the fact that the current CEO, Peter Rawlinson, was once a lead engineer under Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk.)
To be fair, though, Lucid has gotten further than most to succeeding on that front. It hasn't yet begun selling vehicles to consumers, but it has been testing them on public roads, which is more than many others can say.
Unfortunately, after ten years in business, Lucid may be getting cold feet: the company recently approached Ford about a possible buyout. After the Ford team mulled the matter in private, it declined the offer, noting that its newly installed CEO Jim Hackett was still reviewing the company's goals and strategies. Depending on Hackett's plans for the future, Ford might be willing to revisit Lucid's buyout proposal.
In the meantime, it appears that Lucid is looking for other suitors. The search for a new owner coincides with a massive round of funding--Lucid's fourth to date. The money raised will be used to help Lucid build a facility to develop and build the company's first model, dubbed Air. The pricetag for that facility is expected to be around $700 million. Lucid has raised over $100 million during its three previous rounds of fundraising.
Faraday Future, all over again?
There are plenty of comparisons to be made between Lucid and the increasingly doomed but not-yet-dead Faraday Future. They're both electric car start-ups. The designs of the Lucid Air and Faraday's FF91 prototype bear some similarities. And both companies have deep roots in China--in fact, they've both received funding from LeEco. (LeEco's founder, Jia Yueting, owns Faraday, but Lucid is a separate entity.)
As if that weren't enough, both companies are also trying to build massive production facilities in the deserts of the American west--Faraday in Nevada and Lucid in Arizona.
However, Lucid has a few advantages.
For one, the Lucid Air is far further along in terms of engineering and design than Faraday's FF 91. While Lucid still has some refining to do on the model, and while there's still no assembly line to build the Air, it's winning the race to the showroom.
But more importantly, the execs at Lucid seem far more patient and level-headed than Yueting, who by all accounts has nearly run Faraday into the ground. Rawlinson has made it abundantly clear that Lucid won't even break ground in Arizona before adequate funding has been secured.
Even so, there's only so far that a solid prototype and an even-keeled CEO will get you. Stay tuned to see if Lucid survives on its own, gets bought by a competitor, or flounders in the American Southwest.