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Rivian-rival Lucid's CEO thinks the EV industry is due for a brutal shakeout because startups are missing one key ingredient

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/14/2021 mmatousek@insider.com (Mark Matousek)
a car parked in front of a building: Lucid Motors plans to release its Air sedan later this year. Lucid © Lucid Lucid Motors plans to release its Air sedan later this year. Lucid
  • Lucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson thinks 95% of electric-vehicle startups will fail.
  • Rivian is the only rival startup he believes is in the same tier as Lucid.
  • Rawlinson praised Rivian’s technology and branding.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Electric-vehicle startups have jumped at the opportunity to go public through mergers with special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, over the past year. Some are already experiencing growing pains: Canoo, Nikola, and Lordstown Motors have seen their stock prices fall amid management shakeups, strategic pivots, and SEC investigations.

Lucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson told Insider he hasn't been surprised to see some of his competitors stumble out of the gate. He believes nearly every other EV startup will ultimately go out of business because they don't have technology that sets them apart from their rivals or a management team with experience launching an automotive company.

"I think 95% of [EV] startups are going to fail because they don't recognize how tough it is to do this," Rawlinson said.

Rawlinson said Tesla, where he worked before joining Lucid in 2013, succeeded where other EV startups of its time failed thanks to a combination of technology and engineering talent that produced a vehicle, the Model S sedan, unlike anything else on the market.

"What I see from a lot of these startups is that everything's outsourced," he said. "That was the same 10 years ago, and there was one company that didn't do that, and that company was Tesla."


Video: Nissan CEO on the Future of Electric Vehicles (Bloomberg)

Lucid, which plans to close its merger with the SPAC Churchill Capital Corp. IV in the coming weeks, designed many key components, like its motors and battery packs, in-house. In a 2020 interview with Insider, Rawlinson said Lucid's self-sufficiency allowed it to make a smaller, more efficient powertrain that leaves more room for passengers without sacrificing performance. Lucid says its debut model, the Air sedan, will be the first consumer EV that can drive more than 500 miles between charges.

Rawlinson said Lucid also has an advantage in its "world-class" engineering and executive teams that include veterans of Tesla, Waymo, and Ford. "We've done this before, and I just don't see it in the other startups," he said.

Rawlinson considers just one other EV startup to match Lucid's caliber: Rivian. Like Lucid, Rivian has a solid management team and impressive tech, Rawlinson said. He was particularly struck by Rivian's battery-pack design, which includes a cooling system that creates more space for battery cells while increasing the pack's efficiency.

Rawlinson also praised Rivian's branding and product strategy. The company is targeting outdoors enthusiasts - a segment largely ignored by other EV companies - with its debut vehicles, the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV. Each is designed for off-road use and has features that make camping more convenient. Rivian's website includes photos of the vehicles navigating dirt roads, rocks, and sand.

"I think Rivian is likely to succeed. I think Lucid will succeed," Rawlinson said. "And the rest, I wish them luck."

Are you a current or former Lucid employee? Do you have a news tip or opinion you'd like to share? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@insider.com, on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address mmatousek@protonmail.com.

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