We have driven, reported on, road-tripped, and talked about our fair share of electric and hybrid vehicles at Business Insider. These are exciting times for a technology that was born more than 100 years ago, but only started to gain steam in the last 20 years with the Toyota Prius.
Electric-vehicle sales in the US jumped by 37% in 2016, according to Forbes. There are now more than 30 battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the market in the US right now.
That growth has spurred a whole new class of EVs from investor-funded startups. Though many of these companies poach engineering and design talent from big-name automakers, the new companies themselves have never mass-produced a car before. It might be a stretch to call it an automotive renaissance, but it looks that way.
Still, one thing remains the same — it is incredibly difficult to start a car company. Tesla CEO Elon Musk probably knows this better than anyone. Tesla is the first American automaker to go public since Ford Motor Company in 1956, but it took Tesla and its stakeholders nearly two decades and many hundreds of millions of dollars to get there.
And as we have learned recently from the embattled electric-car startup, Faraday Future, the business of designing and building cars can easily lose traction if just enough things go wrong.
Nevertheless, a handful of electric-car startups in California are undeterred, and they are vying to bring the next mass-produced luxury electric vehicle to market.
Lucid Motors is one of those companies. Founded in 2007 under its former name, Atieva, the Menlo Park-based company began developing its first electric vehicle in 2014.
The car, called Lucid Air, debuted last year as a 1,000-horsepower electric luxury sedan that Lucid said would rival Tesla’s highly successful Model S.
Lucid has 300 employees and is backed by Venrock — the same venture capital firm that led Apple’s Series A round in 1978. Lucid also counts China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Holding and Japan’s Mitsui as investors. Interestingly, Jia Yueting, Faraday Future’s only publicly known backer, is also an investor in Lucid.
A company spokesman told Business Insider Lucid has raised several hundred million dollars to date. The spokesman declined to give specific dollar figures. Lucid has a Series D round in the works.
The Lucid Air will be the first vehicle out of the company’s stable when it goes into production in early 2019, the company said. Lucid invited Business Insider to check out a nearly finished representation of the car at its headquarters in Menlo Park. Here’s how it went.