Arnold Boudreaux spent 20 years building Tesla into the electric-car maker it is today. Now, he’s working with a Silicon Valley startup that’s looking to take Tesla’s features and polish them into futuristic machines of the future.
Boudreaux, who serves as a senior vice president at Lucid Motors, is responsible for all aspects of the carmaker’s technology development. The St. Louis-based company is releasing its first production prototype of the electric electric LSX on Sunday at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, an event that celebrates the sporty vintage cars of the past.
Lucid’s gurus behind the desk think the LSX is quite a beast.
“It’s a big as everything in the Tesla Model 3,” Boudreaux told CNN Business ahead of the reveal, which is followed by a website reveal on Monday.
Boudreaux wasn’t exaggerating. The main deck of the LSX, which can be operated as a sedan or crossover vehicle, is over 15 feet wide, or wider than an Air Force fighter jet.
When the prototype vehicle was handed over to Lucid Motors, it was 10 inches wider than a Tesla Model 3. That was so Lucid could accommodate the LSX’s all-wheel drive system.
Being able to fit two rows of seats inside the vehicle shows Lucid’s mission is to create the ideal vehicle for self-driving driving. All of the company’s vehicles will offer some level of self-driving, but while Tesla has demonstrated true self-driving that takes passengers around the country with zero driver input, Boudreaux says Lucid isn’t there yet.
“It is a very powerful tech. You can turn the car on. You can take the car out of the garage,” Boudreaux said. “But it doesn’t work well with stoplights or red lights or any of those dynamic situations.”
Drivers still need to be aware of their surroundings. Another key feature of the LSX is its low center of gravity, the Lucid spokesman says. This should allow the car to tackle curves at high speeds without any nose dives or tires spinning.
Lucid also plans to put self-driving tech into a large number of other vehicles in the future. The company plans to install its system on an electric SUV that will be the base vehicle that vehicles such as the Model 3 and Toyota Prius can be upgraded to. Lucid has said it is developing a massive range of autonomous cars for partners such as Bosch and Nvidia, while at the same time it’s striving to push its technology beyond electric vehicles and into the luxury sedan market.
“There’s a tremendous competition going on at this point for technology and all of the different pieces that have to come together and be able to enable this technology in the future,” Boudreaux said.
Boudreaux’s accomplishments in the auto industry don’t end with Tesla. The former Ford executive led the design and development of the F-150 pickup truck under the supervision of former CEO Alan Mulally. He also worked on the 7,000-plus-unit Ford SVT Raptor and North American muscle car, the Mustang. He’s also a veteran of the automobile biz: He spent time as the chief of the General Motors Performance Vehicle Team, which now operates as Team GB Motors.