Photo: Lucid Motors

The electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors has a strategy for drumming up interest in its upcoming Lucid Air luxury vehicle that begins production late this year: ultra-designed retail spaces that offer virtual reality test drives.

Why it matters: The luxury EV market is getting more crowded. Startups like Silicon Valley-based Lucid — a largely unknown brand in what's still a very small market — need a way to differentiate themselves and gain cachet.

The company announced Thursday a "direct-to-consumer" model with planned retail spaces that will "enable customers to experience the brand and its products in locations that underscore its unique design aesthetic."

  • Lucid is also one of several EV players eschewing the traditional dealership model of sales.
  • The company — which is staked with $1 billion from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund — plans to unveil the production version of the car and pricing next month in New York.

What's next: Lucid has one customer studio open in Silicon Valley and plans to open eight more this year in New York, Florida and California.

  • More service centers and studios are slated to open in 2021 in those states as well as Washington, D.C., Chicago and Europe, the company said.
  • The announcements yesterday also touched on other parts of its strategy, like having a fleet of mobile service vans to provide roadside assistance.

Go deeper: The bumpy transition toward electric vehicles

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OPEC's balancing act: increasing output against smaller demand

An off-shore oil platform in California. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) coalition is entering the next phase of fraught market-management efforts that have repercussions for the battered U.S. oil industry.

Driving the news: The group yesterday agreed to press ahead with plans to begin increasing output as demand haltingly recovers.

More than 32 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 32 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

Why it matters: Tens of millions of jobless Americans will soon have a smaller cash cushion — as coronavirus cases surge and certain parts of the country re-enter pandemic lockdowns — barring an extension of the more generous unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the month.

2 hours ago - Sports

Alumni fight to save college sports

Data: Mat Talk Online; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

242 collegiate athletic programs have been cut amid the pandemic, altering the careers and lives of thousands of student-athletes.

Yes, but: Some passionate alumni groups have opted to fight, banding together in hopes of saving the programs they helped build and continue to love.