Electric-vehicle maker Lucid Motors provided a virtual look inside its manufacturing facility Wednesday, offering impressive views that highlight some of the differences among the current crop of EV startups.
Lucid’s first plant, in Arizona, was completed in December. The company dubbed it AMP-1, short for advanced manufacturing plant one. The video, some 2½ minutes long, shows a Lucid Air, the company’s first product, moving through assembly, quality control, and shipping.
In the views shown, the plant is bright and clean. It looks like a world-class auto manufacturing facility. “We do have some robots and we do have automation,” says Art Schlaud, the director of manufacturing for general assembly, in the video. “But this vehicle is put together by humans and it takes real craftsmanship to put together.”
The plant, for Lucid, is more than a plant. It represents an operating philosophy.
Lucid is pursuing a slightly different path to market than some of its peers. It wants to be asset heavy, believing controlling manufacturing is critical for success in the auto business. “Manufacturing is too critical an activity to entrust with a third party,” Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson told Barron’s in a recent interview, pointing out someone has to own the assets that build the cars. He believes the owners of the assets have the biggest opportunity for profits.
Not everyone agrees. EV startups Fisker (FSR) and Canoo (GOEV), for comparison, are going asset light, choosing to have others manufacture their designs. Fisker is using Magna International (MGA) and Foxconn. Canoo hasn’t announced a contract-manufacturing partner.
Lucid is a little different from those two in another way. It is starting off in high-end passenger vehicles, as Tesla (TSLA) did when it launched the Model S. The Ocean SUV, Fisker’s first product, will be a lower-priced vehicle. Canoo recently pivoted toward commercial vehicles.
The Lucid Air is due to start shipping in the second half of 2021.
Lucid is the most valuable of the three, by a large margin. Its market capitalization is about $38 billion based on the number of shares that will be outstanding after the company completes its merger with Churchill Capital Acquisition Corp IV (CCIV). Fisker and Canoo’s market caps are about $5 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively.
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Churchill stock was up 0.4% in midday trading Wednesday, while Fisker shares were up 1.6%. Canoo stock was down about 1%. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average, for comparison, were up about 0.9% and 0.1%, respectively.
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