LOS ANGELES, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Lucid (LCID.O), best known for its flagship Air luxury electric sedan, unveiled the highly anticipated Gravity sport utility vehicle on Thursday, propelling the startup into a lucrative segment of the U.S. auto industry. Growing caution over slowing EV demand.
Starting at under $80,000 and with the top trim offering more than 440 miles of range, the Gravity sits right next to rival Rivian’s flagship R1S SUV and is expected to enter production late next year.
Although the 5.3-meter-long, three-row will come with the same battery pack as the Gravity Air, the vehicle has been designed from the ground up on a new platform, Lucid Chief Executive Officer Peter Rawlinson told Reuters at a preview this month.
“Gravity will significantly expand our market opportunities, and open up a total addressable market that is approximately 3 times larger and growing,” Rawlinson told analysts in a post-earnings conference call last week.
Responsible for a large portion of US vehicle sales, SUVs are a growing market, with customers choosing them for safety, comfort, space and power during long drives and off-road trips.
The success of the Gravity, which was unveiled ahead of the opening Friday auto show in Los Angeles, will be important for Lucid. Fears of a slowdown in EV demand due to inflation and higher interest rates are spreading throughout the industry.
To boost demand, EV makers have joined the price war waged by market leader Tesla (TSLA.O) this year. Several, including Tesla, Ford (FN) and General Motors (GM.N), have pushed back planned EV and battery factory expansions or additions.
Lucid, which cut Air sedan prices as part of special offers to combat higher financing costs, last week cut its 2023 production target to “better align with deliveries” and to raise awareness. Focused on marketing.
This will be key to the full-size luxury Gravity SUV, which has a steering wheel that’s more square than round and a 34-inch curved cockpit display.
The company said that as Lucid increases production, it will benefit from economies of scale because the Gravity and Air will be made on the same production line.
Keeping costs under control is important given Lucid’s high cash burn. The company ended the third quarter with $5.45 billion in cash, which it said is enough to begin production of Gravity in 2025.
Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Los Angeles and Peter Henderson in San Francisco; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips
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