By Louis Hansen. Updated December 15, 2016.
As sedans go, the new Lucid Air is roomy, electric and luxurious. And its founders showed some moxie, debuting the car in Fremont, home of the factory of its intended rival, Tesla Motors.
Startup Lucid Motors on Wednesday afternoon unveiled its prototype sedan -- a 1,000-horsepower, 300 mile-per-charge, battery-powered car with a sticker price of about $85,000.
"Lucid will be a new kind of luxury experience," said Derek Jenkins, vice president of design. The sleek curves and ample interior, inspired by luxury jets, seek to fuse high-tech with beautiful automotive design, he said.
Lucid joins a rapidly growing field of competitors to Tesla in the electric vehicle market. Most automakers are moving aggressively to add all-electric vehicles to their lineups.
Lucid is aiming at high-end customers looking for an electric version that would entice shoppers of various Mercedes models.
On Tuesday, GM took a swipe at Tesla's claim to the budget end of the all-electric fleet. The automaker also went to Fremont to deliver its first Chevy Bolts to three Silicon Valley customers.
The $37,500 Bolt offers 238 miles of range on a single charge -- farther than the early range estimates for Tesla's similarly priced Model 3, due out late next year. Motor Trend chose the Chevy Bolt as its Car of the Year.
A Tesla spokesperson did not return an email seeking comment.
Lucid was founded in 2007 by former Tesla and Oracle executives as a battery company. Formerly known as Atieva, the company has about 300 employees and is based in Menlo Park.
The company is backed by several multinational investors, including recent funding from LeEco, the Chinese tech giant.
Several Lucid executives and managers formerly worked at Tesla. Chief Technology Officer Peter Rawlinson formerly served as vice president of vehicle engineering at Tesla and led the engineering for the Model S.
The company has ambitious growth plans.
Last month, Lucid chose Casa Grande, Arizona, for the site of its first factory. It expects to break ground next year and begin production in 2018. Lucid also has partnered with Samsung SDI to supply lithium ion cells for its vehicles.
Lucid's initial, limited edition Air models will sell for $160,000, said company spokesman Zak Edson. Subsequent models of the Air are expected to begin at $65,000, with standard models being priced at $85,000.
The vehicle comes standard with a 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack, capable of gunning from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds.
During an hourlong presentation, engineers touted innovations in power train design, cabin room and safety features. The headlights consist of multiple, independent lenses that allow the lamps to peer around corners. The interior features multiple screens in the dashboard, as well as a retractable tablet on the console.
The vehicle also includes a suite of cameras, radar and lidar that will later be used for autonomous driving.
Lucid believes the market for luxury electric vehicles is growing, Edson said.
The Air will compete with the Model S in range, design and performance, but Edson added, "We see it competing with a broader market."