Ambitious US-based EV firm Lucid Motors is pushing to enter Formula E as a manufacturer in the Gen3 era of the world championship.
The shock news could mean it becomes the second American manufacturer after Penske Autosport to race in the series and the first new manufacturer to confirm a position on the grid in three years.
Lucid already has a presence on the grid via its work on the Gen2 battery which it designs and supplies to all teams as a spec component. This is done via its technology arm, Atieva, which has had a presence in the paddock since 2018 thanks to an engineering support team working in conjunction with McLaren Applied.
It remains to be seen if a potential move to become a manufacturer will involve Lucid Motors racing as a team as well as a powertrain creator.
More likely at this stage is being a partnership with an existing team that is looking for a powertrain provider for the Gen3 rules, which are scheduled to begin at the end of 2022.
However, The Race understands that a debut in the 2023/24 season is the most realistic target for the Californian company, which has already held meetings with Formula E and at least one current team in 2021 regarding its plans.
The new-look Andretti team, which will continue racing with BMW power for the 2021/22 season after the factory’s exit, is in the market for a new deal to enter Gen3 and will be a completely privateer entry from this August onwards.
The Envision Virgin team is also actively looking for a manufacturer partner as its deal with Audi will end in the summer of 2022.
Lucid Motors entering as a manufacturer could prove also to be a controversial addition to the grid, as the company will also provide the spec frontal powertrain to all Formula E entries in Gen3.
This will be done via the Spark Racing Technology (SRT) company which has been ever-present in the series and will again co-ordinate much of the Gen3 project via the management of the FIA.
Should this still be the case, it will raise questions about technical coexistence if Lucid has both a manufacturer racing commitment and supplies a spec product.
Formula E faced a comparable situation over its third to fifth seasons when similar concerns were raised about Williams Advanced Engineering’s position as battery supplier and also technical partner to the Jaguar team.
Lucid Motors became a public traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) earlier this year.
The EV start-up, which was initially founded in 2007 as Atieva, has a majority-ownership via Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and has already launched the Lucid Air sedan model. It will also unveil a new all-electric SUV named Project Gravity in 2023 (concept car pictured below), which is expected to be aggressively marketed through its Formula E entry.
Lucid says it is targeting the build of 20,000 cars in 2022; 49,000 in 2023; and 500,000 cars a year by 2030.
The company is run by experienced automotive executive and former Lotus Cars chief engineer, Peter Rawlinson. He joined the company in 2013 as chief of technology before being appointed CEO in 2019.
Additionally, the company recently appointed two other experienced motorsport personnel in Anthony Law, previously the senior manager of powertrain at McLaren Applied, and Kenny Handkammer who had a long career in Formula 1 as chief mechanic of Red Bull Racing between 2006 and 2014.
Former Red Bull senior aerodynamicist Jean-Charles Monnet also works for Lucid in the role of technical fellow of aero at the company, while ex-Honda performance development director of engine development Marvin Riley joined Lucid last May.