Jan 26, 2017

Lucid Motors Set to Build First Arizona Manufacturing Facility

Lucid vehicle, courtesy Lucid Motors

Construction is expected to begin this spring on a modern, high-tech facility in Casa Grande, Arizona that will eventually produce the latest in luxury, battery-powered electric vehicles.

“This is a tremendous project that everyone around here is excited about,” says Susan Marie, spokesperson with the Arizona Commerce Authority, one of the public partners playing a role in getting Lucid Motors to build in Casa Grande.

“We made them an offer, an incentives package,” says Marie, “and while we don’t think that was the single motivating factor in getting Lucid to move here, it was a sign that Arizona was serious about doing business with them.”

Based in Menlo Park, California, Lucid Motors started out in 2007 as an electric car battery development company called Atieva. It transitioned into building electric cars, promising a market challenge to electric car giant, Tesla Motors.

But to get there, Lucid first needed to build a major manufacturing facility.

“We considered over 60 sites in thirteen states,” says David Salguero, a Lucid spokesman, “but ultimately, Arizona and Casa Grande best suited our needs.”

Salguero adds that Lucid officials “worked collaboratively with state and local officials throughout the process to ensure that we reached a deal that was fair and beneficial to everyone involved.”

That deal included Lucid receiving $5 million in Arizona Commerce Authority grants in return for the company creating at least 2,000 jobs by 2022.

“We have a qualified facilities tax credit program here which is designed to stimulate manufacturing,” explains Marie.

“The company is eligible for either 10 percent of their qualified capital investment,” continues Marie, “and in this case we know that Lucid is going to make a $700 million capital investment by the time the project is done, or $20,000 per qualifying job, whichever is less.”

As it now stands, that $700 million plant will go up on a 500-acre site near the intersection of Thornton and Peters road, on land that is partly owned by Pinal County. The county will eventually own all of the site, which Lucid at some time in the future will buy.

The new operation will be partially dependent on having some of the electric car parts built in Sonora, Mexico, some 265 miles to the south, a partnership that Lucid officials say is evidence of a reliable regional supply chain.

Lucid officials also say that while 8,000 to 10,000 cars, capable of traveling 400 miles on a single charge, could be built during the first year of operations, that number may well jump to more than 50,000 vehicles in the next five years.

Lucid vehicle, courtesy Lucid Motors

With a design protocol that puts an emphasis on touch-screen panels and an ability to accelerate rapidly in a manner of seconds, the Lucid Air EV model cars will be expensive, with some estimates suggesting a price tag in excess of $100,000, although company officials have said that price could eventually drop to $65,000.

In a comment to the Arizona Republic, Peter Rawlinson, chief technology officer with Lucid, said “Lucid Motors is building the luxury automobile of the future, and we have an opportunity to become the global leader in automotive technology.”

In fact, Lucid officials contend that the market for electric luxury cars is both international and almost without limit, primarily because customers are attracted to having a car that doesn’t rely on fuel.

Meanwhile, the building of what is going to be the first car manufacturing plant in Arizona, say officials, promises a ripple economic effect.

“More jobs equals more people equals more housing equals more purchases and a stronger economy,” notes Helen Neuhart, the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce.

Officials say that while the new Lucid facility will come in at 500,000 square feet initially, that size could expand to around 600,000 square feet by 2022 when the plant is at full operational capacity.

“Everyone pulled together to make this work,” says Marie, who notes that in a move to secure the Lucid plant, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey flew to the company’s headquarters in California to get a better feel for Lucid’s facility needs while making a pitch for building in Casa Grande.


By Garry Boulard

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