Lucid launches Gravity SUV
High price may prove a stumbling block in three-row SUV segment
US EV pureplay Lucid has unveiled its long-awaited Gravity SUV. And the vehicle’s starting price will be below under $80,000.
As Lucid has struggled to stimulate demand for its current range of electric sedans, the company’s earnings update have routinely seen management ask investors for patience for the Gravity’s launch, while the company has sought to assure investors that its liquidity was ample to sustain it to the Gravity ramp-up.
“We ended the quarter with total liquidity of approximately $5.54bn. We expect this will give us runway through the start of production of Gravity and into 2025,” CFO Sherry House said on Lucid’s recent Q3 analyst call.
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A lot therefore rests on the success of the new SUV. However, the company does not yet say what costs will come with additional features and what the upper range of the sticker price will be.
The three-row E-SUV segment is already populated by considerably more affordable options than the Gravity, such as the Kia EV9 beginning under $55,000 and the Mercedes EQB coming in at $53,900.
The Gravity’s most comparably priced competitors are the Volvo EX90 or seven seat option on the Tesla X, both of which start at around $80,000.
Granted, Lucid promises a blend of sports performance with the functionality of a large SUV, as well as range advantages. But it remains to be seen how much of a draw high-performance engineering will be to consumers shopping for large family cars.
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Andres Sheppard is, though, positive about the prospects of the Gravity. “I am actually a fan of the SUV, and particularly the price-point which was better than expectations,” he tells EV inFocus.
“At under $80,000 Lucid’s Gravity is competitive with Rivian’s R1S, but offers longer range, better performance, faster acceleration, and faster charging.”
But he does caution that “management does not expect production until the second half of 2024 so we are still a bit away from Lucid taking market share in the SUV market”. And that does not offer a short-term solution to the firm's conversion issues.
“Our next generation technology is applied with even greater effect, resulting in an electric SUV that can achieve over 440 miles of range with a battery pack a little more than half the size of some of our battery-hungry competitors,” says Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson. “Gravity will take our customers farther with less batteries and therefore using less precious energy.
“Its smaller, lighter, and higher technology battery pack means fewer precious metals and minerals,” he continues, potentially allowing Lucid to leverage cost savings on supply chain expenses and minimises bottlenecks and inefficiencies with suppliers.
Rawlinson also says that this mean the Gravity will require “less energy to charge, less electricity consumed, less pressure upon the grid, and a lighter weight and more dynamic vehicle”.
However, the company caveats this promise of 440 miles of range by saying that the figure is the “manufacturer’s projected estimate for top trim”, suggesting that the sub-$80,000-priced model will not achieve this marquee promise.
The company says that the Gravity can add 200 miles of range in “about fifteen minutes” when it is connected to a 350kW charger. In ideal charging conditions and assuming that this 15-minute timeframe does not include any slowdowns of charging pace for when the battery is nearing full state-of-charge, this implies 200 miles of range requires c.87.5kW of power. Given the stated maximum range of 440 miles for the more expensive trim of the Gravity, this would work out at a best-case battery capacity of 192.5kW.