Lucid Motors, the rival of Tesla Inc, prepares to gear up its new Air luxury electric sedan with a semi-automated driver assistance system when the first cars will be manufactured from an Arizona assembly line in early 2021, Lucid stated on Tuesday.
The Lucid Air, which is set to compete with the Tesla Model S, will come standard with such functions such as adaptive cruise control, lane centering, automatic emergency brakes, and automated parking.
It will also be one of the first production vehicles to be geared up with standard lidar, a laser-based sensor that determines obstacles and objects, including pedestrians, as part of its collision avoidance system.
Tesla chief Elon Musk has said Tesla vehicles do not need lidar as their other sensors – mainly camera and radar – provide enough object detection when the vehicle is in semi-automated Autopilot mode. He has criticized the use of lidar, which is much more costly than other sensors, as “a fool’s errand”.
Lucid’s current CEO Peter Rawlinson was the former chief engineer of the Tesla Model S.
Unlike the General Motors’ Super Cruise system offered on some Cadillacs, the Lucid Air’s new DreamDrive assistance system will not be able of hands-free driving, at least not in an early stage. But Lucid has said it will be able to bring more advanced features in the future through wireless over-the-air updates.
While Tesla is credited for pioneering over-the-air software updates, its vehicles do not offer true hands-free driving. Tesla has frequently warned that owners must not depend entirely on the Autopilot feature and should still keep their hands on the steering wheel when they are driving.
Lucid has backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which invested $1 billion in the Silicon Valley startup in 2018.
Lucid Air will be constructed at a new plant located in Casa Grande, Arizona, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.
Pricing is expected to be revealed in the coming weeks. Tesla’s Model S begins at less than $75,000 and with options, can cost as much as $105,000 depending on the selection.