Mar 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Lucid Motors plans to offer virtual-reality test drives to sell its electric vehicles

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

Go deeper

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Cheaper gasoline thanks to the oil price collapse isn't expected to badly undercut electric vehicles, but the overall economic dislocation from coronavirus is a hurdle, analysts say.

Why it matters: EV sales have grown in recent years, but they're still basically a niche market and tiny percentage of overall vehicle purchases, so any new headwinds are worth watching.

Tesla weighs Nashville for new vehicle factory

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he's "scouting" central U.S. locations for a factory that would build the upcoming Cybertruck, as well as the Model Y crossover for deliveries on the East Coast.

Why it matters: The announcements via Twitter Tuesday night add some clarity to expansion plans for the Silicon Valley electric automaker, which has recently found itself on better financial ground ahead of key product launches.

Ford touts Mustang Mach-E's winter performance to reassure consumers about electric vehicles

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Ford is circulating a new video that touts the ability of the upcoming Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle to handle tough winter conditions.

Why it matters: Reassuring drivers that electric cars can meet all their needs just as well, or better, than their internal-combustion counterparts is important for pushing them into the mainstream.