Lucid Unveils BEV in New York Amid Dealer Resistance

The New York State Automobile Dealers Assn. opposes allowing start-up EV OEMs to conduct direct-to-consumer sales, as Lucid Motors hopes to do.

Jim Henry, Contributor

June 25, 2021

4 Min Read
Lucid (NYC)
Lucid BEV plies streets of New York, where automaker seeks sales license.

Lucid Motors unveils its New York City studio, where the company hopes to eventually obtain a New York State license to sell its Lucid Air battery-electric vehicle directly to the public.

“We’re a new brand, and this is a wonderful place to discover the brand,” Doreen Allen, senior director of sales, says in an interview at the new studio, which for now serves as an “experience center.” The would-be showroom is in a prime location in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

The name is a throwback to the industry that once defined what’s now a trendy neighborhood of high-end retail brands. The Lucid Studio is also a short walk from the popular Chelsea Market food emporium and shopping mall, plus the High Line, an elevated park and pedestrian walkway along the Hudson River.

Allen says Lucid welcomes the considerable attention it’s getting from the crowds passing by. But in addition, she says the new Lucid Studio is hosting invitation-only events for hand-raisers for the Lucid Air. The company says the new BEV has more than 9,000 reservations worldwide.

Lucid, which is based in the Silicon Valley community of Newark, CA, says it’s on track to start production of consumer-ready units of the Lucid Air in the second half of this year at its factory in Arizona.

Suggested retail is expected to start around $77,400 for the Lucid Air Pure, a model that produces 420 hp and gets an estimated range of more than 300 miles (483 km) on a full charge, says spokesman Dave Buchko. U.S. sales are expected to begin with a few hundred units of a fully loaded, 1,080-hp model called the Lucid Air Dream Edition at $169,000, he says.

Those sticker prices don’t reflect a $7,500 federal tax incentive, or possible state incentives, Buchko says.

Lucid Motors Studio_NYC MeatPackingDistrict.jpg

Lucid Motors Studio_NYC MeatPackingDistrict

The company says it plans initially to have 20 U.S. retail locations. It now has seven U.S. retail locations either open or in the process of getting a retail license – four in California, two in Florida and one in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook. So far, Lucid is fully licensed for retail sales in California only, Allen says.

That might not be easy in New York. The New York State Automobile Dealers Assn. opposes allowing start-up EV OEMs to conduct direct-to-consumer sales. In 2014, the dealer association successfully backed a bill that limited factory stores for EV manufacturers to the Tesla brand’s five existing New York locations.

New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly committees have been studying bills that would allow OEMs which exclusively produce EVs – such as Tesla, Lucid and Rivian – to conduct direct sales.

However, the Legislature’s regular session ended June 10. The next regular session doesn’t re-open until early 2022. A special session is planned in between, but the direct-sales legislation is unlikely to be raised for a vote in the special session, considering the regular session ended without it being put to a committee vote.

Zak Edson, senior director-retail operations for Lucid, says in an interview at the New York Lucid Studio that without a New York dealer license, Lucid intends to use the new center to grow brand awareness and consideration, but not to actively sell cars. “Of course, we hope to find a path to obtain a license, as other companies have done.”

The Albany-based New York dealer association opposes the current bills, according to the group’s talking points on its 2021 legislative efforts. “Any electric vehicle manufacturer can sell vehicles in New York, so long as they play by the rules that everyone else must follow,” it says.

Not all dealer groups are necessarily flat-out opposed to direct sales.

“We believe it can be a positive thing for the retailers as long as dealers continue to serve as the delivery centers and provide service," says Heath Byrd, chief financial officer for Sonic Automotive Group of Charlotte, NC. He’s commenting in general, and not necessarily specifically about Lucid.

Byrd says in a recent phone interview, “There is absolutely the potential to be more profitable in a direct-sell environment.” For example, the direct-sales manufacturer would take on marketing and sales expenses dealers pay today. Facility size would be dramatically reduced, and floorplan expense would be virtually nonexistent, he says.

Meanwhile, Lucid Motors says it plans to create its own, wholly owned network of service centers, mobile service providers and certified collision repair centers, manned by Lucid Motors technicians. “We can open up service locations without impediment” from state franchise laws, says Daniel Witt, head of public policy for Lucid Motors.

While still conforming to state franchise laws, Witt says it should be possible for consumers in states where direct sales are prohibited to acquire cars legally in states where direct sales are approved.

“We would certainly never dissuade a consumer who wants to buy one of our products but can’t, because of the antiquated provisions of their state franchise laws,” he says.

About the Author(s)

Jim Henry


Jim Henry is a freelance writer and editor, a veteran reporter on the auto retail beat, with decades of experience writing for Automotive News, WardsAuto,, and others. He's an alumnus of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead-Cain Scholar. 

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