An assortment of Lucid Air prototypes line up outside the company’s HQ in Newark, California.

The coming year could see a massive transformation in the U.S. automotive market, or so it would seem based on the number of new – and established — automakers now taking advance deposits for planned EV products.

Lucid Motors is the latest to open up an order book, inviting potential buyers of its first product, the Lucid Air, following Fisker, Inc., which days ago began allowing customers to plunk down $250 for its new, all-electric SUV, the Ocean.

(Fisker Ocean set to make its formal debut at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show.)

Such moves can pay off in a number of ways, as Tesla demonstrated when it first used the advance reservation strategy for products like its Models S, X and 3. For one thing, it can build interest in a relatively unknown brand and it can generate ready, interest free cash to help a start-up in its race to put a new product into production for the first time.

In this case, the California-based start-up Lucid claims to be in the home stretch as it finishes up development on the Air sedan even while completing work on its new factory.

“As a reservation holder, you will have the opportunity to be among the first to own a Lucid Air,” it said in a statement. “You can also expect invitations to special events with exclusive opportunities to experience the car.”

As with Tesla, Lucid is emphasizing the performance of its EVs. An Air prototype recently hit 235 mph during track testing.

It’s actually not the first time Lucid had offered potential customers a chance to put down a deposit. It originally asked for$2,500. It has opened the order bank back up and cut the required deposit by 60 percent. Those who previously put money down at the higher amount now can ask for $1,500 back.

 

Lucid also says it has “streamlined” the process and added new payment options. As has been the norm with such advance deposits, the start-up claims the $1,000 reservation is “fully refundable.”

Lucid isn’t saying why it cut the figure back. One can speculate that it is betting the lower figure will generate more handraisers – and perhaps more money overall. The $2,500 figure was clearly out of line with what other companies have been asking for. You can get in line for a Tesla Cybertruck for just $100, while Fisker wants $250 for a reservation on the Ocean, and Ford is taking $500 deposits for its first long-range BEV, the Mustang Mach-E.

If you eventually follow through with a formal order, however, you’ll have a chance to get the production version of the all-electric sport sedan Lucid first unveiled in December 2016.

(Karma Automotive reveals mix of new production models, concepts)

The Lucid Air promises a lavishly appointed cabin with business class rear seating.

The Lucid Air can be seen as a competitor to the Tesla Model S, with an aggressive sport sedan design, a long-range, high-performance electric driveline and a lavishly appointed interior. Like Tesla, the start-up also claims to be working up autonomous driving technology.

Lucid has had its fair share of problems but appears to be in reasonably good shape now, having lined up the final round of funding late last year needed to start work on its assembly plant. It said in a separate statement that it expects to have that factory ready for “some production cars completed by the close of 2020.” But anything close to real numbers won’t happen until 2021.

So, if you’re planning to plunk down a deposit for the Lucid Air, expect to be waiting a while before you can take delivery.

(Electrify America partners with Bank of America, WalMart to make it easy to find charging stations.)

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