Lucid Motors, Tesla’s Closest Imitator, Is Just Starting Its Journey

Lucid Motors, Tesla’s Closest Imitator, Is Just Starting Its Journey

Tesla wannabe Lucid Motors has reached the stock market. Now comes the hard part.

Lucid made its trading debut Monday following the closure on Friday of its merger with special-purpose acquisition company Churchill Capital IV. The stock rose 10% to almost $27 in morning trading, giving the company a market value of roughly $43 billion based on a pro forma share count.

That is an extraordinary number for a company that has yet to sell anything, but it is much less than it would be using Churchill Capital IV’s $49 share price when the merger was announced on Feb 22. The hotly anticipated deal coincided with peak SPAC fervor. SPAC stocks have shed roughly a quarter of their value since their late February top, according to an index compiled by IPOX.

Lucid is closer to selling vehicles than the other electric-vehicle startups that have merged with SPACs. It is also the one that most closely resembles Tesla . Lucid Chief Executive Peter Rawlinson led the engineering team on Tesla’s Model S and is largely following the Elon Musk playbook of forging a new car brand by developing as technologically advanced an electric vehicle as possible. Lucid’s flagship first vehicle, the Lucid Air, with a starting price of $77,400 before purchase subsidies, will start commercial production in the coming months.

The resemblance to Tesla explains the hype around Lucid. Mr. Rawlinson thinks Tesla’s $620 billion market value is a function of the market-leading efficiency of its electric powertrains, which give the Model S a range of more than 4 miles per kilowatt-hour of battery power—the electric equivalent of miles a gallon. None of the first-generation electric vehicles from traditional luxury car makers such as Jaguar and Audi comes close, but the Lucid Air will offer a range of more than 4.5 miles per kilowatt-hour. Mr. Rawlinson says the most dominant factors are the efficiency of its electric motor, power electronics and coding.

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