Lucid Motors announced on Monday that it has hired Tesla's vice president of manufacturing, Peter Hochholdinger, to head up its own manufacturing operations.
Lucid is a fellow Silicon Valley Tesla competitor, with plans to build a luxury sedan with up to 400 miles of range an up to 1,000 horsepower. One Tesla-owning Green Car Reports contributor got an early look and came away impressed.
In April, the Saudi Arabian Private Wealth Fund invested $1 billion in Lucid, giving it a real shot of reaching production.
That's where Hochholdinger comes in. Lucid began in 2007 and showed off the Air prototype in 2016. With the Saudi investment, the company is ready to set up an assembly line.
Hochholdinger came to Tesla from Audi in 2016 and took over manufacturing of the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla CEO Elon Musk's planned "alien juggernaut" fully automated assembly line. Although the line famously struggled to produce the planned 5,000 Model 3s a week through late 2017 and early 2018, gradual improvements, more human labor—and a second assembly line built outside in a tent—eventually reached that number.
Without the aim for a fully automated assembly line, Hochholdinger may be able to set up a factory to build Lucid Airs more quickly and efficiently. In 2016, the company announced that it is building a factory in Casa Grande, Arizona to build between 20,000 and 130,000 cars a year. The bulk of the Saudi investment is expected to go toward building and equipping the factory.
In a statement announcing Hochholdinger's arrival, Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson said, "Peter's extensive experience and proven leadership...will prove invaluable as we continue our progress toward the launch of the Lucid Air and future models. In joining Lucid, Peter is empowered to create an industry-leading manufacturing process that will deliver the quality products our discerning customers demand and deserve."
Lucid has also announced that, in lieu of building its own network of fast chargers as Tesla has, it will offer its buyers free access to Electrify America fast chargers.
The Saudi investment fund is the same one Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he had turned to last August in a bid to take Tesla private. At the time he said that funding was "secured," and was fined by the SEC and removed as chairman of Tesla's board when it was proved otherwise.