Electric vehicle startups are a dime a dozen at the moment, but they’re not all created equal.
One of the most credible up-and-coming Tesla rivals, Lucid Motors, has this morning fully revealed its first production model.
The Lucid Air sedan is a Model S rival with up to 805kW of power, a claimed range up to 830km of range, and a price between the equivalent of $110,000 and $230,000 in the USA.
Deliveries of the Air were originally meant to start in 2018, but money troubles forced Lucid Motors to put its plans on hold. After struggling to fund its Arizona factory, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund invested US$1.3 billion, reportedly in exchange for majority ownership.
Driving development of the Air is Peter Rawlinson, Lucid Motors CEO and one-time lead engineer on the car it’s targeting, the Tesla Model S.
Four models will be offered, with the following specs:
|Air Touring||US$95,000 ($130,600)||653km||462kW|
|Air Grand Touring||US$139,000 ($191,000)||832km||596kW|
|Air Dream Edition||US$169,000 ($220,000)||748km||805kW|
The 100km/h sprint takes a claimed 2.5 seconds in the range-topper, and even the Air Touring dispatches it in 3.2 seconds.
Not only is it fast from 0-100km/h on the road, it’s fast from 0-100 per cent hooked up to a DC charger. Its 900V can gain 32km of range every minute, or 483km in just 20 minutes on a 350kW ultra-rapid charger.
The 800V Porsche Taycan is capable of gaining 100km range in five minutes, while videos of Tesla’s V3 Supercharger have shown a Model 3 adding 160km in seven minutes. There’s always some tapering during a charge cycle so it’s not simple, predictable maths.
Rather than turning to the outside for its control electronics, batteries, and motors, Lucid has developed them all in-house. The company used to be called Atieva, focused on developed electric bus batteries and drivetrains, but pivoted when it decided to take on Tesla.
The in-house motors and inverters bring a number of benefits for Lucid. Because they’re small, the boot and cabin are bigger than you’d expect. Because they’re light and power efficient, Lucid has been able to squeeze more range from the 113kWh battery.
Inside, the Air has designs on not only Tesla buyers, but owners of high-end German sedans such as the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8. The dash is home to a three-screen, 5K panel that wraps around the driver in a similar fashion to that of the Porsche Taycan.
There’s also a vertical touchscreen on the transmission tunnel for controlling vehicle functions, climate controls, and infotainment. It can be stowed away in the dashboard, however, freeing up more storage space behind it.
Phone chargers, cupholders, and more storage space sit where the transmission tunnel would be, hidden under a sliding cover. There’s also a padded armrest.
Although it’s smaller than a Porsche Taycan on the outside, overseas reports have suggested six-footers can comfortably sit behind six-footers. There’s also a massive 280L ‘frunk’ and 459L boot.
A full suite of active driver aids will be offered, driven by a 32-sensor array including cameras, radar, and LiDar. Lucid promises Level 2 driving, essentially what’s currently offered in luxury cars with adaptive cruise, lane-keeping, and steering assist.
It’s also promising to go one further with Level 3 autonomy, capable of driving the car in traffic jams while the driver’s attention is elsewhere. How, when, and where that functionality will apply isn’t clear.
There’s no mention of dealerships or showrooms. Lucid does, however, have 21 studios across the USA where prospective customers will be able to poke around the Air.
Much like Tesla, Lucid is taking US$1000 deposits in the USA, Canada, and parts of Europe and the Middle East. Production is expected to start in Autumn next year.
Lucid hasn’t yet revealed any Australian plans. But we know it isn’t stopping at the Air – an SUV is also in the works.
Is it fair to call the Lucid Air a Tesla killer? And given the money, would you buy an Air or a Model S?