In March, as much of Europe went into lockdown, car sales on the continent fell by more than half. But registrations of battery-powered cars surged 23 percent, according to Matthias Schmidt, an analyst in Berlin who tracks the industry.
In April, lockdowns caught up with electric cars, too, and their sales fell 31 percent, according to Mr. Schmidt’s estimate. But that was nothing compared with the total European car market, which plummeted 80 percent.
But here’s what has a good chance of happening.
Carmakers may not be as motivated to sell electric cars in coming months. They will be tempted to instead push S.U.V.s, which generate far greater profits and are easier to sell now that fuel prices have plunged.
Much will depend on government incentives and regulations. Europe and China are doing more to promote electric cars than the United States under the Trump administration.
Some possible good news for startups.
Turmoil in the market could be good for electric car start-ups like Byton and Lucid, which have proliferated after Tesla showed it was possible to challenge the traditional carmakers. The start-ups have a chance to attack the market while the established companies are struggling.
We have built over 40 Lucid Air beta prototypes — and are in the process of building dozens more — each with a designated purpose in our comprehensive testing program.
Normally, these vehicles would be racking up long-distance miles on the highway or circling a test track as we refine and validate the Lucid Air’s advanced engineering and game-changing performance. Beta prototypes have, for instance, endured the frozen northern reaches of Minnesota for winter testing and shuttled between San Francisco and Los Angeles on a single charge — all in preparation for production at North America’s first purpose-built EV factory in Casa Grande, AZ.
Saudi-backed Lucid Motors announced that it was accepting reservations for its Lucid Air sports sedan in Saudi Arabia. Customers can reserve the luxury electric car for SR3,750 ($1,000). The car is expected to be priced at around SR225,000 and deliveries in the Kingdom are expected to commence in late 2021. As part of its plans to prepare the roads for electric cars, the Kingdom has already installed commercial electric car-charging stations in Riyadh and other cities.
A few months ago, we took two Lucid Air prototypes — Beta 4 and Beta 5 — to the frozen northern reaches of Minnesota for testing in temperatures that dropped as low as -27 F/-33 C. The extreme environment is ideal for validating vehicle dynamics as we test features like antilock braking, traction control, and stability control.
Why build yet another performance e-car? First, consider the performance. The Lucid Air is faster than anything else running on electrons. That means not just the Tesla, which made our 2013 Top Ten Tech Cars, but also the Porsche Taycan, in the 2020 version of that list. “It has more than 1,000 horsepower (750 kilowatts),” Rawlinson says, “and it reached 235 miles per hour (380 kph) in testing.”
But sheer power is so early 21st century. Rawlinson says the critical metric really ought to be efficiency, as defined by the distance you can travel at a given speed using a given number of watt-hours. That metric’s very green, of course, but it also hits another key feature for any e-car: range. The Air can cover 400 miles (640 km) on a charge.
Rawlinson: Model S was actually styled before I joined Tesla. My task was to retrospectively fit all the bits into it. It was a pretty interesting intellectual puzzle to design a car from the inside out. What I learned from that, however, is that to capitalize on the miniaturization of the electric power train requires interaction between design and engineering. This was missed in the Model S; it wasn’t designed around the miniaturization of the electric powertrain; it was designed it to be a cool looking car. No one knew then what could be achieved by miniaturizing. But having gone through that loop, I realized there was an opportunity.
There’s an old adage that in order to break the rules, first you must master them. Having that technology in-house would enable Lucid to break the rules. If we could successfully miniaturize the powertrain, we could create much more space for the occupants and this really led to the whole concept that I had. The great paradox is when the company, which was then called Atieva, asked me if I would be interested in doing an electric car, I said yes. Because I already had a vision for what it would be.
I said I’ll join under two terms:
One was I wanted to design the best electric car imaginable. Surpass my last one, the Model S. I want to engineer my baby. The other is that you have to change the damn name. So we did (to Lucid).
The electric vehicle company released Tuesday new photos of the factory located off Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. Construction was “well ahead of schedule” when Gov. Doug Ducey imposed a stay-at-home order due to COVID 19, according to Peter Hochholdinger, the vice president of manufacturing who was hired away last year from a similar post at Tesla. The factory will produce the Air, the company’s first electric vehicle.