Sam Weng received his bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science and electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1983 to 2007 he was a systems engineering manager at Xerox, a co-founder and vice president of several companies, and a senior director of marketing and alliances at Oracle.
Bernard Tse graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his doctorate in the electrical engineering industry. In 1981, Bernard Tse co-founded and became president of computer manufacturer Wyse Technology. In 1984 the company went public in a successful IPO. Tse joined the board of directors in 2006 and became vice president of Tesla Motors. He was invited to the company by its founder Martin Eberhard. At Tesla he was the head of energy department, which was engaged in creation of storage batteries for Tesla Roadster and other car manufacturers.
The reasons why Tse left Tesla are not mentioned. Sometimes people try to blame Musk for it. The reason is that its founders Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpening left the company in 2008. Eberhard also managed to sue Tesla. Atieva was not created to compete with Tesla. The company's original niche was the production of batteries and transmissions for electric cars and electric vans.
The company filed more than 100 patent applications, but was not particularly successful. It was an interesting startup, but not too well known to the general public. That is why its early history is poorly covered. What is known is that it was supplying batteries to China. The story of the familiar Lucid Motors began in February 2014. At the time, Chinese state-owned automaker BAIC Group and LeEco invested about $100 million in Atieva, for which they received almost a 50 percent stake in Atieva.
The investment allowed the company to move away from its usual niche and get involved in the creation of an electric car. The plan was to release a sedan to compete with the Tesla Model S. News of the arrival of a new rival to Ilon Musk's company was complemented by loud promises. BAIC announced an optimistic forecast of Atieva electric car release as early as 2015.
The company's Chinese partners not only invested money, but also promised assistance. Among other things, BAIC was going to help build the electric car and sell it in the PRC. Atieva expanded its staff. Former employees of Tesla and other major car companies were hired. At the same time, recruitment began long before attracting investment. For example, the company's CTO, Peter Rawlinson, left Tesla and took the position in 2013.
Others came in after the investment and the announcement of the new course. Current CTO Peter Hasserkamp joined Atieva in 2015. That same year, former Mazda chief designer Derek Jenkins also joined the company. The company added experienced top executives known in the automotive industry. A similar approach was taken in the selection of rank-and-file employees. Now the company employs approximately 300 people. Lucid Motors was going to build a plant in Arizona. Its cost would have been at least $700 million. Trying to get additional funds Lucid decided on the fourth round of investment. Morgan-Stanley, a bank holding company, took it on. Employees of the latter approached Ford, trying to attract the legendary automaker to participate in the round. But instead, the company made an offer to buy out Lucid.
The electric car maker found itself in a tricky situation. Lucid Air was almost finished and the company even managed to release a few test models and launch pre-orders. But there was no way to start mass production. Ford's capacity and its financial backing would have made it easier. But it didn't want to lose its freedom. As a result, Sam Weng, the company's CEO, did not make a deal with Ford or any other buyers. Specialists thought a sale was the best option. In 2018, Lucid Motors continued to work on Lucid Air and seek funds for the plant.
The company's position didn't look optimistic until September, when the Saudi Arabian Sovereign Wealth Fund decided to invest more than $1 billion in it. The money received will be used to finalize Lucid Air's development and testing, build the plant and start mass production. The company is also going to start rolling out its own retail network. According to preliminary plans, Lucid Air is scheduled to start mass production in 2019, and sales will begin a year later. The release of Lucid Air does not guarantee the company's success. It will have to compete with Tesla, which not only launched mass production, but also has a strong brand. There are also other competitors in the market ranging from startups to major automakers. The upcoming competition has the potential to positively influence the further development of the electric car market. Do not forget to use Lucid VIN decoder in order to avoid potential problems when buying a used car.
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