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Revving up production: Electric cars are about to start rolling out of Arizonas desert

Lucid Motors expects to start production by year-end

On the outskirts of a small town less than 50 miles southeast of Phoenix, a 720,000-square-foot, electric-vehicle factory is arising in the desert. If all goes as planned, a luxurious new battery-electric sedan will roll off its production line by year’s end. Lucid touts the operation as the first greenfield electric-vehicle site in the United States.

Lucid Motors is building the factory and slated to start manufacturing its debut model later this year for delivery in early 2021. Lucid says construction has stayed on schedule at a time when other automakers have been forced to halt output and delay key models due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Through a series of logistical maneuvers, help from parts suppliers and a bit of good fortune, Lucid executives say they’ve been able to move forward with installation of critical assembly-line equipment such as robotic arms and precision tools including stamping presses and jigs.

A big contribution of good karma has come from location. Arizona did not prohibit construction work along with much of the rest of the U.S. starting in March. After completing the steel structure in February, Lucid finished the exterior walls and roofing and recently has taken delivery of production equipment from suppliers.

Lucid trucked in 11.4 million pounds of steel and 67.4 million pounds of concrete. While the initial production volume the company is targeting is in the tens of thousands, the plant has been designed to eventually make as many as 380,000 vehicles. That’s more than the roughly 367,500 vehicles Tesla delivered last year, all of which were built at its plant in California.

“Building from a bigger blueprint now will make it less costly for Lucid to expand in the future,” said Peter Hochholdinger, Lucid’s vice president of manufacturing.

The debut Air model, which is expected to sell for more than $100,000, can be ordered online, though buyers will be able to kick the tires at one of nine showrooms in the U.S. that Lucid plans to open this year in California and Florida. 

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