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Tesla rival Lucid plans to launch in Europe this year


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People test drive Dream Edition P and Dream Edition R electric vehicles at the Lucid Motors plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, September 28, 2021.
Caitlin O’Hara | Reuters

Electric vehicle maker Lucid plans to start selling its cars in Europe this year.

The California-headquartered firm, which competes with Tesla, announced the expansion on Tuesday after a Twitter user asked if an image of some new Lucid owners were based in the U.K.

“Expansion to European markets will begin this year. Stay tuned for country-specific delivery information,” the company tweeted in response.

Lucid did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for more information.

Lucid’s first vehicle is called the Air sedan. It started delivering a $169,000 “Dream Edition” of the flagship car to customers in late October, following commercial production beginning a month earlier at a new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona. The car has an industry-leading range of 520 miles.

Like Tesla, Lucid is trying to develop autonomous driving technology that enables its cars to safely drive themselves.

Axel Schmidt, who heads up the automotive sector at consultancy firm Accenture, told CNBC Wednesday that tech companies have “underestimated all the challenges” when it comes to getting autonomous vehicles on the road.

He added that 60% to 70% of new cars will have “Level 2” autonomous driving capabilities by 2030. That means the cars will assist with steering, staying in the right lane and controlling speed but they won’t be able to safely drive themselves until they reach “Level 5.”

European reservations

In January 2020, Lucid started taking online reservations in 15 European countries for its flagship Lucid Air sedan but the firm has not specified when the vehicles will be delivered.

Locations included Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The company, founded in 2007 and led by former Tesla executive Peter Rawlinson, went public through a SPAC deal in July that valued it at around $24 billion.

That month, it told investors that it expects to produce 20,000 Lucid Air sedans in 2022, generating more than $2.2 billion in revenue.

Overtaking Ford

Four months later, Lucid’s market value blew past Ford to $89.9 billion after executives told investors that reservations for its first vehicles had jumped and that its production plans for 2022 were still on track. At the time, it said it has more than 17,000 reservations for its Air sedan, up from 13,000 through the third quarter.

However, shares tanked around 20% last month when Lucid disclosed a probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission likely into the company’s SPAC deal to go public.

Lucid said although there is “no assurance as to the scope or outcome of this matter, the investigation appears to concern the business combination” between the automaker and blank-check company Churchill Capital Corp. IV.

Today, Lucid is valued at around $65 billion and its market cap is still far below Tesla, which surged to more than $1 trillion last year. Rivian, an EV start-up that went public in November, has a market cap of about $91 billion.

Additional reporting by CNBC’s Michael Wayland and Lora Kolodny.

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