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Lucid's new showroom in New York City on June 21, 2021. (Image: Hope King/Axios)

Lucid Motors' new New York City showroom is a flashy workaround to its dealership problem.

Why it matters: The electric vehicle startup is competing in an increasingly crowded market while operating under strict rules that prohibit most car makers from selling directly to consumers on premise in more than two dozen states, including New York.

  • Showrooms like Lucid's provide a glimpse into what auto dealerships of the future may look like and how they might operate (like visiting a tailor for a bespoke suit) — or at the very least provide a blueprint of how early EV companies can use retail space to market vehicles and generate demand.
  • In the meantime, EV makers including Lucid, Tesla, and Rivian have been banding together to pass laws that would allow them to sell their cars directly in at least eight states, including in New York.

Driving the news: Axios previewed the retail space in Manhattan's trendy Meatpacking district ahead of its public opening on Saturday — and took a demo ride in the high-end $139,000 Grand Touring model of the company’s first car, the Lucid Air sedan.

What they're saying: “It’s about bringing awareness and marketing, in the beginning,” Derek Jenkins, senior vice president of design and brand at Lucid, tells Axios about the showroom, which the company refers to as a "studio."

  • At 3,200 square feet, it has enough space for one vehicle, a car parts exhibit including the "skateboard," a virtual reality experience to preview interior and exterior car colors, and a retail area where visitors can browse fabric swatches and branded merchandise.
  • None of the showroom staff have "sales" in their title — they are "studio advisors" and "associates" who assist with online ordering or customization questions. No one works on commission even when a customer might initiate and complete an order in store.

Here goes the neighborhood: Tesla's store and gallery is two blocks away and is about 7,300 square feet, while Hyundai's Genesis House is opening a few blocks away and roughly 40,000 square feet.

The opening of Lucid's eighth showroom location comes at a pivotal time for the company and EV makers in general: Not only is there increasing competition, there is also increasing investor scrutiny.

Catch up quick: Lucid announced in February that it was planning to go public through a merger with Churchill Capital Corp IV, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). 

  • The car maker is one of several in the EV space to take this route. Recently, investors have soured on EV SPACs — Lordstown Motors most notably for its specious forward-looking statements.
  • Lucid tells Axios it currently has 10,000 reservations (customers who have paid a fully refundable deposit), up from 9,000 in May, and that deliveries are expected to start in the next few months.

The big picture: Change is on the horizon. Electric vehicles are still a tiny fraction of total car sales, but they're expected to make up at least 30% of the market share of new vehicle sales by 2030.

  • U.S. consumers don't seem to have a preference of how to buy EVs — with 37% saying in a March Morning Consult poll that they would buy from a traditional dealership compared to 43% saying they would buy from either a manufacturer showroom or online.
  • At the same time, more than 60% of auto executives polled through a 2020 KPMG study said the number of physical retail outlets will decline between 20% to 30% worldwide over the next five years.

Be smart: New EV makers, especially pre-revenue, pre-production companies like Lucid, don't need the land or space that traditional dealerships have for inventory. What they need more urgently are customers.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Sep 23, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Why Instagram ads, billboards are reminding you to lock your car

Image: Instagram

Has your Instagram tapping surfaced ads reminding you to lock your car lately? You're not alone.

What's happening: The Minnesota Department of Commerce's Fraud Bureau partnered with the Hennepin and Ramsey county attorneys to launch a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing auto theft.

  • "Keep your car safe from thieves by parking in well-lit areas, always locking the doors and taking the key or FOB," one version of the black-and-yellow social posts reads.
  • New billboards on major roads, including Hiawatha and I-94, carry similar warnings.

Why it matters: Having your car stolen sucks! But auto thefts also impact the economy as a whole, when insurance companies pass on the cost of repair, replacement and claim processing to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

Details: Commerce doled out about $67,000 to the two county attorney offices to pay for the campaign, which also includes bus ads.

  • The department plans to expand the campaign to Greater Minnesota later this year.

Between the lines: Locking your car may sound like a basic reminder, but forgotten keys and unsecured doors are big drivers of auto thefts.

  • Commerce's 2019-2020 auto thefts report estimates that 60% of cars stolen in the metro were taken after the owner left the keys inside.
  • While the vast majority (93%) of vehicles stolen in jurisdictions participating in a state theft prevention initiative were recovered, many were damaged, again increasing costs.

The bottom line: St. Paul Police Department spokesman Steve Linders told Torey that these "crimes of opportunity" are especially common in the winter, when many of us leave our cars running to warm them up on chilly days."

  • We had a case a few years back that involved a woman stealing a running, unattended vehicle and driving it to the airport," he recalled. "She was arrested at the gate."
Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

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