On the outskirts of a small town less than 50 miles southeast of Phoenix, a 720,000 square foot electric vehicle factory is arising in the desert. If all goes as planned, a luxurious new battery-electric sedan will roll off its production line by year’s end.

Lucid Motors, a U.S. startup backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is building the factory and slated to start manufacturing its debut model later this year for delivery in early 2021. Lucid says construction has stayed on schedule at a time when other automakers have been forced to halt output and delay key models due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Through a series of logistical maneuvers, help from parts suppliers and a bit of good fortune, Lucid executives say they’ve been able to move forward with installation of critical assembly-line equipment such as robotic arms and precision tools including stamping presses and jigs.

“It was luck. I must say that,” Peter Hochholdinger, Lucid’s vice president of manufacturing, said in an interview.

A big contribution of good karma has come from location. Arizona did not prohibit construction work along with much of the rest of the U.S. starting in March. After completing the steel structure in February, Lucid finished the exterior walls and roofing and recently has taken delivery of production equipment from suppliers including Hokuto, a parts-mounting device maker. Equipment manufacturers based in Asia were quick to reopen after Japan, China and South Korea allowed businesses to resume operations.

Lucid hasn’t entirely avoided virus-related snags. Its paint-shop equipment supplier Durr Systems initially planned to complete its work for the facility at a manufacturing site in China. When that government imposed its shutdown, the job shifted to a Durr site in Mexico. After businesses then began to shut down in North America, the company reverted back to China, which had lifted restrictions. Hochholdinger said all this caused only minimal delay.

Suppliers also diverted resources to Lucid from other automakers that had to pause projects in the midst of virus shutdowns, Chief Executive Officer Peter Rawlinson said in an email.

Even so, building a factory with 200 people on site at any given time has not been easy. To keep workers safe and construction moving forward, Lucid says it has implemented strict social-distancing and sanitation protocols. Workers are required to wear face masks and goggles at all times and multiple temperature checks are done at the site’s single point of entry using an infrared thermometer. Hochholdinger said any worker not wearing a mask or registering a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) is asked to leave the site.

Virus-induced fevers aren’t the only potential hot spots. Temperatures can reach the high 90s in Casa Grande in May, so Lucid installed a cooling tent for workers to take breaks while maintaining distance.

Lucid trucked in 11.4 million pounds of steel and 67.4 million pounds of concrete. While the initial production volume the company is targeting is in the tens of thousands, the plant has been designed to eventually make as many as 380,000 vehicles. That’s more than the roughly 367,500 vehicles Tesla delivered last year, all of which were built at its plant in California.

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