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Lucid Motors, Would-Be Tesla Competitor, Plans to Build $700M Electric-Car Plant in Casa Grande

Lucid Motors, a would-be electric-car company based in Silicon Valley, announced plans on Tuesday to build a $700 million car plant in Casa Grande that would have parts supplied by firms in Sonora, Mexico.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey led a gathering of dignitaries from Arizona and Mexico on the state capitol lawn to break the news, with two sleek, camouflaged prototype vehicles on hand as props. (Click here for Lucid's video of the event.)

"The Casa Grande-based operation is truly a win for Arizonans," Ducey told a small crowd of reporters and onlookers, adding that the plant would add 2,000 jobs in Arizona by 2022.

Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich said the operation would also benefit the northern Mexico state, helping to build the vision of an economic "mega-region" with Arizona.

"I want to drive one!" Pavolich exclaimed as the two vehicles rolled up.

Backed by Chinese investors, the company — known as Atieva until a name change in October — has been around since 2007, building capital and developing the technology for its batteries and cars. Lucid anticipates rolling out its first model, a four-door sedan with 1,000 horsepower that would compete with Tesla electric cars, by 2018.

Calling the project a "major undertaking," Brian Barron, Lucid's director of global manufacturing, predicted the company's products would redefine the driving experience. "Success is within our reach," he said.

Construction on the facility and hiring of employees will begin next year, Barron said. Mentioning that he was a six-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Barron encouraged military veterans to apply.

Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s chief technology officer, said the company "scoured the United States extensively" to find the right site.

More than 60 locations in 13 states were studied before Casa Grande was selected, according to the company's website: "In the end, we chose Arizona and Casa Grande for their pro-business mindset, excellent workforce, forward-thinking academic institutions, proximity to our Silicon Valley headquarters, strong regional supply chain, and availability of a suitable property."

Ducey said that in traveling to California's high-tech mecca to meet with officials from Lucid and other companies, he heard people praising his state for its business climate. Since voters elected him in 2014, the Republican governor has been a strong advocate for low taxes and lax regulations for business as a tactic to boost the economy

"The word is out on Arizona," he said. "We can stand toe to toe in attracting the kind of good-paying manufacturing jobs that every state in the nation is hungry for."

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Long before the rubber literally hits the road, though, Lucid needs to find the money to build its factory.

"I know firsthand that this is a capital-intensive business, and we will require a future round of investment,” Rawlinson told Forbes in an interview this month, without specifying the amount required. "We believe we are imminently investable, with a product as compelling as we have, our ability to deliver, and our business model.”

Pinal County will reportedly buy $250 million in land that the company will later purchase for the deal, and the Arizona Commerce Authority will give Lucid $5 million grants in return for bringing jobs to the state.

UPDATE: A Pinal County official said on Wednesday that the land deal will cost Pinal "way south of $250 million." New Times will publish more on this topic when it becomes available.

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