[UPDATE-2] Lucid Motors CEO Says He Set Up Team In SpaceX That Helped Design Model S, Quashes Rumors Of Apple Deal
Update May 16, 10:22 EDT: Lucid Motors reached out to us, with the following statement:
"Peter Rawlinson set up the Tesla team for the Model S inside the SpaceX building vs. setting up the SpaceX team."
Update 2 May 17, 06:12 EDT: Lucid also confirmed that Mr. Rawlinson was involved with the Model S and not the Model X, opposed to what the transcript of his interview highlights.
The original piece remains as it was.
Lucid Motors' chief executive officer Mr. Peter Rawlinson has shared more details about his time at Tesla Inc and rumors surrounding his company's discussions with Cupertino tech giant Apple Inc. The executive's comments came in the light of Tesla chief Mr. Elon Musk stating on Twitter that Mr. Rawlinson was not significantly involved in developing the Tesla Model S and rumors of Lucid Motors' discussions with Apple for a potential merger. He made the statements in an interview with Patrick McGee of the Financial Times earlier this month in a conversation that spanned several topics, including Lucid's focus on ensuring a smooth transition to an automobile manufacturer.
Lucid CEO Outlines His Model S Patent Ownership As Evidence Of Role In Developing Vehicle From Ground Up
During the internet, McGee asked Rawlinson about his take on a Tweet by the Tesla chief stating that the Lucid CEO was not the Chief Engineer for the Model S. The question came as Mr. Musk, in a tweet made earlier this month, stated that Rawlinson was never "chief engineer" at Tesla. Whether this alluded to Rawlinson not being Tesla's overall chief engineer, a position similar to what Musk holds at SpaceX, or as the chief engineer for the Model S is uncertain.
Musk's exact words, which came in response to another tweet claiming that he made "Lucid's CEO chief engineer," were:
Rawlinson was never chief engineer. He arrived after Model S prototype was made, left before things got tough & was only ever responsible for body engineering, not powertrain, battery, software, production or design.
This wasn't the first time he had commented on Rawlinson's role at Tesla. His previous comments came in September last year when he reiterated that the Lucid chief was not Tesla's chief engineer.
Back then, Musk had stated:
Rawlinson didn’t design Model S. Prototype was done before he joined & he left us in the lurch just as things got tough, which was not cool. He did make some contributions to body/chassis engineering, but not to powertrain, battery, electronics or software.
In response to McGee's question, the Lucid chief stated:
Strange, I’ve got the business card still here left over from when I was. I don't think I'd go to the, to the pain of creating mythical business cards, no, no, I mean, I mean one of the great. I was at Tesla for three years right through from taking Model S from a clean sheet of paper, through to production readiness, did all the concept engineering, set up the team in SpaceX, which designed for core engineering of the Model X, and not the Model S rather and also was responsible for Model X as well. We took Model S from a clean sheet effectively or a blank computer screen to the car that you know today, and I personally hold a very high percentage of the patents on that car as well.
This is where the interview took an interesting twist, as Rawlinson also claimed setting up a team in SpaceX; a team which, according to him, was responsible for designing the Tesla Model X. Readers are advised to keep in mind Lucid Motors and not Wccftech has transcribed the interview, so in the off-scenario that it is incorrect, take it up with Lucid folks!
Rawlinson was also questioned about Lucid's oft-rumored negotiations with Apple. Unconfirmed reports on social media have speculated at this possibility, and during the interview, Lucid chief quashed all such speculation.
Here's the relevant bit for the Apple rumors,
PM: Okay, that's a very clear answer. Thank you. Another question is actually and I don't know why it's being asked, but it's an intriguing question, are you in talks with Apple at all at the moment?
PR: We're not in direct talks with Apple at the moment.
PM: Where does the meaning of direct? Are you in indirect talks?
PR: We’re not in talks with Apple at the moment, no.
Of course, the response leaves out the possibility that Apple and Lucid might have been in talks at some point in time, but as of the moment, as Rawlinson made it clear, no negotiations are underway between the pair.