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Tesla competitor Lucid Motors opens first local showroom in the Seaport

Its first EV model goes 516 miles on a charge but costs $139,000.

High-end electric carmaker Lucid Motors opened its first showroom in Boston in the Seaport.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The rise of electric vehicles and the success of Tesla have inspired a host of other companies hoping to break into the automotive market. The latest to arrive in Boston is Lucid Motors, which opened a showroom in the Seaport District last weekend.

Headquartered in California, Lucid is starting at the high end of the market. Its first — and only — electric vehicle on display in its first Boston-area showroom is called the Lucid Air Grand Touring, with a starting price of $139,000. But the upstart automaker has plans to offer less expensive models of its luxury sedan, under $80,000, over the next year or so.

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As an electric vehicle startup following Tesla’s business model, Lucid doesn’t have a network of dealers who keep hundreds of cars on lots to entice buyers. Instead, Lucid sells its cars online and is building out a network of showrooms and service centers that will try to attract buyers without keeping unsold inventory on hand.

The two-floor showroom in Boston is equipped with an espresso machine, a virtual reality center, and a single car on display. No test drives are available yet — that’s coming later, the company said.

The Seaport space is the company’s 25th outpost in North America, but only the third in the Northeast. Another showroom and service center in Natick is coming soon. Rival Tesla has five stores in the Boston area, including one in the Prudential Mall on Boylston Street.

An interior view of a Lucid Motors electric car. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

“The neighborhood is a good match for us as a tech brand and a more modern brand,” Zak Edson, Lucid’s vice president of sales and service, said during a tour of the new space. “We were attracted to this fresh, new part of the city.”

The car on display is filled with a combination of opulent and high-tech features. Nappa leather seats are complemented by walnut panels on the dash and alpaca wool on the seatbacks. The dashboard also holds a 34-inch glass panel with several high-resolution screens. A second iPad-like touchscreen that sits between the driver and passenger can be retracted into the dash for a more minimalist look.

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The cabin interior is massive and airy with a seemingly single pane of glass extending past the windshield and over the roof. Electric vehicles require less room for engines and other components, and Lucid says the exterior of the “Air” is comparable in size to a Mercedes E Class sedan, while the interior is as roomy as the larger Mercedes S Class. The car, which goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds, can travel 516 miles on a fully charged battery, Lucid said.

Like others in the car industry, Lucid has been struggling with supply chain issues and the resulting delays in delivering cars to consumers. In February, Lucid slashed its plan to produce 20,000 sedans this year to producing 12,000 to 14,000.

But chief executive Peter Rawlinson, a former vice president of engineering at Tesla, said the delays would be short-lived. “We believe we will move past the key bottlenecks we’re experiencing in the next few months with further improvement in the second half,” he said on a call with analysts.

Lucid pitches its direct-to-consumer sales model as superior to the traditional dealership approach. “Dealers are pushing cars out that they have on the lot,” Edson said. “We have a smaller footprint that’s more accessible. We want people to casually discover Lucid. ... People have to know you exist to be inspired.”

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Necessity may be the mother of invention for the company’s no-dealer model, however.

Zak Edson, the vice president of sales and service, seated inside a Lucid Air. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

“In these early days, it’s very appealing — they don’t have many cars and it’s a brand nobody has any familiarity with,” Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power’s automotive division, said. “It would be pretty difficult for them to find dealers. It’s almost a necessity to go this way.”

Over the longer term, Lucid, Tesla, and other new EV makers may eventually turn to the dealership model, Betts predicted. “There’s been a healthy debate in the industry, once a brand is established, over which is the better model,” he said.

Dealers are typically entrepreneurs, and they put their own money up for facilities, inventory, and local marketing, he said. “You could argue that human nature would make that the better model.”


Aaron Pressman can be reached at aaron.pressman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ampressman.