Lucid Group (NASDAQ:LCID) combined two of 2021’s hottest trends — electric vehicle startups and special-purpose acquisition companies. The problem was that by the time the company completed its reverse merger with Churchill Capital Corp. IV in late July, investor interest in both trends was significantly diminished. Still, LCID stock shot up as much as 20% on its first day of trading, to a high just above $29, before closing the day up 11%.
By Sept. 1, though, shares had plummeted 40%. A quick rebound took LCID stock back up near its post-SPAC-merger highs. But selling over the past three weeks has wiped out any progress made since July.
However, Lucid began production on its first car for customers, the Air Dream Edition, in late September. The luxury sedan is a special edition of its flagship passenger EV that will cost $169,000. Deliveries are scheduled to begin by the end of the month.
Lucid’s focus on the luxury market is part of the reason why many see the startup as the first potential competitor to Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). A true rival to the OG of EVs would no doubt be enticing to investors, so let’s take a closer look at the company and where LCID stock might be heading.
Lucid Putting Its Best Foot Forward
As I mentioned above, the first car to roll off the assembly line in Lucid’s Advanced Manufacturing Plant, called AMP-1, in Casa Grande, Ariz., is the luxury Dream Edition of the Lucid Air. In other words, Lucid has chosen to bring out the big guns first.
This top-of-the-line EV boasts impressive performance stats. Just a few weeks prior to the start of production, the Environmental Protection Agency released its official estimate for the Air Dream Edition’s range: 520 miles on a single full charge. Tesla’s Model S Long Range falls significantly short of that, with an estimated 405 miles per charge.
Standard in the Air Dream will be Lucid’s DreamDrive Pro, an advanced driver assistance platform. According to the company, “DreamDrive employs up to 32 on-board sensors, a multi-faceted driver-monitoring system, and lightning-quick on-board ethernet networking powering more than 30 features through a clear, user-friendly interface.” Its driver-assistance features include collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assistance.
At present, the company plans to manufacture 520 of the Air Dream Edition models. (Does that number sound familiar?) By releasing its best vehicle first, I think Lucid is making a statement that it aims to attract customers away from higher-end Tesla S models.
The company is expected to deliver the first Dream Editions to customers later this month. Production and delivery of Lucid’s lower-tier EV models are expected to follow. The company says it has already received more than 13,000 reservations for its Lucid Air electric vehicles, with the entry-level version of its flagship sedan set to cost around $78,000.
Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson recently said the firm will build a total of 577 vehicles this year. He also said the company is on track to meet its production targets of 20,000 vehicles in 2022 and 50,000 vehicles in 2023.
Management has plans to expand the Arizona factory by 2.7 million square feet to help meet production goals. In addition to the Lucid Air models, the company said it expects to release its first electric SUV, called the Gravity, in late 2023.
Lucid’s reverse merger raised $4.4 billion for the startup, which Rawlinson said, “sees us through to the end of 2022.” So, the company will need to raise more cash to meet its 2023 goals.
In other words, Lucid is depending on its early production vehicles to perform well. If that indeed occurs, the company should be able to raise further capital to produce 50,000 vehicles in 2023. The key word here, of course, is “if.”
The Bottom Line on LCID Stock
LCID stock did not get a boost on news that production had started. In fact, shares sit about 13% lower since the announcement. This leads me to believe any enthusiasm for the start of production was already baked into the price. I doubt we’ll see a price spike when deliveries begin either.
There are currently three analysts with price targets on LCID stock. They range from $12 to $30, showing the wide schism in sentiment surrounding the stock.
A move to the high end of that range would represent a gain of more than 30% from current levels. But investors are likely to wait to see if the company can turn its dreams into reality before bidding shares much higher.
On the date of publication, Alex Sirois did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Alex Sirois is a freelance contributor to InvestorPlace whose personal stock investing style is focused on long-term, buy-and-hold, wealth-building stock picks. Having worked in several industries from e-commerce to translation to education and utilizing his MBA from George Washington University, he brings a diverse set of skills through which he filters his writing.