Lucid Group, a luxury electric vehicle maker, revealed on April 25 that it has started testing its large SUV known as Gravity on public roads in the United States. This is an important milestone as the automaker gears up for the launch of its next model in 2024.
Their first luxury sedan, the Lucid Air, emerged as the winner of the 2023 World Luxury Car Award. Testing on public roads is a key developmental phase that will help the luxury EV maker gather important data for finetuning the vehicle for a smooth consumer experience when it goes into production.
“I am excited to see the Gravity SUV moving forward so quickly in its development, as it builds upon everything this company has achieved thus far and drives further advancements of our in-house technology to create a luxury SUV like none other,” said Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO, Lucid Group.
Lucid Gravity electric SUV will set new industry standards
The automaker said the upcoming SUV will feature next-gen electric technology and a Lucid design that has never been used in the industry. According to the luxury EV maker, the combination of these features will offer insane performance, spaciousness, and driving range.
The upcoming electric SUV will go farther in range than any other electric SUV currently on the market, according to the luxury EV maker. It will come with advanced charging systems and batteries developed by the company for its Air sedan and is anticipated to debut with a range close to the 516 EPA-estimated miles of the Air’s top trim.
“The Lucid Air redefined the sedan category, and as our technology continues to evolve and lead the market, we are in a place where Gravity is positioned to change the world of SUVs,” said Rawlinson.
The likely rivals of the Gravity all have ranges that max out below 400 miles. They include the BMW iX (324 miles), Tesla Model X (333 miles), and Rivian R1S (390 miles). According to the company, Glass Cockpit will be introduced in the Gravity SUV.
Lucid is yet to make public the spec and trims of the Gravity that will go into production. However, the company said the Gravity can comfortably seat up to seven people and feature “the driving dynamics of a sports car”. New high-resolution displays powered by the next-gen Lucid proprietary software operating system will be positioned in the interior.
The electric Gravity SUV is a vital product for Lucid
Although Lucid Air was well-received and won awards, demand for the luxury sedan is on a downward spiral. Currently, it appears demand has fallen below the company’s expectations. Also, the company’s shares plunged by about 30% in February after Lucid said it expected to make between 10,000 and 14,000 Airs in 2023. This was a sharp contrast to the 27,000 estimated by Wall Street.
The company’s shares took another hit in March when Lucid fired about 1,300 employees which accounted for about 18% of its workforce. Therefore, fast-tracking the production of Gravity may be the company’s only way of resuscitating demand.
Initially, Lucid’s plan was to release the luxury SUV this year. However in February 2022 when the production of the Air began, Rawlinson said the Gravity would be delayed until 2024 to finetune the design and incorporate the lessons they learned from the launch of Air.
The production of the Gravity will happen hand-in-hand with Air at the automaker’s Casa Grande, Arizona facility. The company has confirmed that deliveries of the Gravity will start in 2024 but it is still possible that the timeline will be adjusted, just like any publicly known specification.
Why Lucid slashed its workforce by 18%
In March, Lucid notified the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it was slashing its workforce by 18%. The company stressed that it was an important move to lower its operating expenses “in response to evolving business needs and productivity improvements”. Lucid mentioned that the layoff was part of a restructuring plan that will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2023.
Rawlinson sent a memo to the employees saying the job slash will affect both contractors and employees. Almost all the divisions will be hit by the layoff in the U.S. including some executives. Apart from downsizing, the luxury EV maker is employing other costs saving measures like reviewing its non-critical spending.
Although Lucid enjoyed a steep increase in revenue year-over-year, it still did not meet the forecast of industry analysts. According to a Reuters report, the demand for Lucid’s Air was negatively impacted by Tesla price cuts and the presence of affordable EVs from traditional carmakers.
According to the filing, Lucid said the job cuts will cost the company between $24 million and $30 million which will be spent on company-paid health insurance, severance payments, and stock-based compensation for the affected workers.
Lucid unveils new board members
On April 24, Lucid announced the election of Ori Winitzer, Chabi Nouri, and Sherif Marakby to its board of directors with immediate effect. They will replace Tony Posawatz, Frank Lindenberg, and Nancy Gioia. The election of the new directors happened at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
“We are excited to have Sherif, Chabi, and Ori join Lucid’s board of directors during such a pivotal time in our company’s journey to build a sustainable future for generations to come,” said Rawlinson.
At the moment, there are nine members on Lucid’s board. The other members including Janet S. Wong, Peter Rawlinson, Nichelle Maynard-Elliott, Andrew Liveris, Glenn R. August, and Turqi Alnowaiser were all re-elected too. Under the NASDAQ rules, eight of the directors qualify as independent.
“Combined, they bring significant global experience in the areas of marketing, finance, and operations, across both automotive and luxury consumer goods,” said Rawlinson. “Today’s changes to our board of directors reflect the evolution of the company’s key objectives over time and we look forward to the contributions by our new directors to Lucid’s global expansion and continued success.”