Lucid Motors has collaborated with Amazon to bring its voice assistant software into its debut electric vehicle, and CEO Peter Rawlinson dismissed concerns about the e-commerce giant serving as a threat in the auto market.
“I don’t think there’s a competition there. We’re happy to have Amazon Alexa as part of our technology suite,” Rawlinson said Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.”
Rawlinson’s appearance came a day after the Tesla rival unveiled its all-electric Air sedan, which will cost roughly $80,000 for a base model and go up to $169,000 for a limited-volume “Dream Edition.” Rawlinson was the vice president of engineering at Tesla from 2009 to 2012, where he worked on the development of the company’s Model S.
There has been speculation about the extent of Amazon’s ambitions in the auto market. In late June, the Jeff Bezos-led company announced it would be acquiring self-driving vehicle start-up Zoox in a deal reportedly worth over $1 billion. The Seattle-based firm said Zoox would continue to operate as a standalone business within Amazon.
In September 2019, Amazon said it had ordered 100,000 electric vehicles from Rivian Automotive as part of its push to get its delivery fleet running entirely on renewable energy. Amazon previously took part in Rivian’s $700 million investment round that was announced in early 2019.
Lucid’s tie-up with Amazon will allow drivers “to enjoy the full Alexa experience on the go …. all while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel,” according to a press release from Lucid Motors, which received a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in 2018.
Rawlinson emphasized the benefits of the collaboration between Lucid and Amazon after he was asked whether the company took steps to protect its technology from the cloud software and online retail titan.
“I see that natural voice recognition is just perfect for the automobile,” said Rawlinson, who also serves as Lucid Motors’ chief technology officer. “It is just the perfect application, and what better than Amazon Alexa? So I don’t see any conflict there at all.”
Lucid expects to begin producing the Air early next year at its plant in Casa Grande, Arizona; the company’s timeline was pushed back due to the coronavirus.