Lucid Air: the dream of a former Model S chief engineer
It’s announced four years ago, and it’s finally unveiled on Wednesday in Silicon Valley: the Lucid Air. The ‘dream’ of former Tesla Model S chief engineer Peter Rawlingson, today Lucid’s CEO. And he couldn’t find superlatives enough to describe it: more luxurious than a Mercedes S-Class and outclassing his former brainchild Model S in ‘absolutely everything’.
Rawlingson’s dream comes in four flavors. Production should start in a new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, this year. The first to hit the (American and Canadian) market is called ‘Lucid Air Dream Edition’ in Q2 2021, in a limited number. It’s the ‘ne plus ultra’ at $169 000 (€142 974) without the €7 500 US tax bonus.
Range up to 809 km
That money buys you a car with 1 080 hp and a modular 113 kWh battery pack. The latter derived from the one Lucid is delivering for the Formula E. The Lucid Air Dream s capable of sprinting in somewhat 2,5 seconds to 95 km/h and has an EPA range of 406 to 503 miles, which is some 653 to 809 km.
The next version, the Lucid Air Grand Touring, at €139 000 (€117 594) and due for Q2 2021 too, gets even further: 517 miles (832 km). But this one features less horsepower (800 hp) and thus trifles away less energy. Rawlinson said without blushing that Lucid’s technology – a 924-volt system – is far superior to that of any current EV, including the ‘industry leader’.
He says, ‘anyone can add dumb range by using a huge battery pack’. But Lucid claims to be 17% more efficient than anyone else. Tesla’s Model S, for instance, with a 100 kWh battery pack and an EPA-rated range of 402 miles (646 km), has an efficiency of 15,42 kWh/100km, while Lucid claims 13,55 kWh/100 km.
Extremely compact drivetrain
The Air’s powertrain is an extremely compact design capable of housing two drive units side by side. Rawlingson says they’re smaller and lighter than any competitor’s motors and is actually 2,5 times smaller than the closest competitor. The benefits: more interior space for the car and more lightweight, contributing to a better range.
Even the more down-to-earth third version, the Lucid Touring that should become available late 2021 at $95 000 (€80 370) has 620 hp and gets 406 miles (653 km) far. The range of the ‘basic’ Lucid Air that should appear somewhere in 2022 at a price ‘lower than $80 000’ (€67 680) is yet to be announced.
The name of the onboard charger, ‘Wonderbox’, says something of the expectations of its designers. It makes charging at 19,2 kW on AC charging equipment at home possible and allows bi-directional delivering of power back to the house or grid (V2G).
Fast charging – if available – can be done at 300 kW, offering at 32 km per minute, 480 km in 20 minutes. And according to Lucid, ‘every version of the Air will charge just as fast’ as the most expensive one.
‘EV replacement of Mercedes S’
The car itself is compared to American standards, one of the most luxurious you can have. “Tesla’s Model S is premium, it’s beautifully engineered, and it’s super disruptive, but it is not an S Class Mercedes replacement in the EV space, and that’s what we’re offering,” Rawlingson said.
The compact design of the powertrain and battery pack makes the Lucid Air more compact on the outside than a Model S or Porsche Taycan. But it offers the ‘most spacious cabin of its class’ inside, Rawlingson claims. And the luggage space (739 liters) is even bigger than that of the current Mercedes S (529 liters).
Level 2 to 3 autonomous driving
Inside features a sleek modern design with the entire roof made of glass and a giant 34-inch, curved glass 5K display that seems to ‘hover’ above the dashboard. In the middle console, there is an additional retractable touch screen. If you don’t like to use your fingers, there is an advanced version of Amazon’s Alexa to listen for your commands.
The car is packed with an advanced sensor suite, with LIDAR, radars, and cameras. It offers Level 2 autonomous driving standard, to be upgraded to Level 3 later by over-the-air software upgrades like Tesla is excelling in.
For those dreaming of their own Lucid Air, pre-ordering online is possible at $1 000 or €900 in the US and a number of European countries, including Belgium and The Netherlands. But not for the limited ‘Dream’ version. That’s only open to US and Canadian citizens willing to pay $7 500 in advance.