After multiple production delays and setbacks, Lucid Motors gave the EV driving public its first look at the upcoming Lucid Air sedan during a live streamed reveal event on Wednesday. With an expected range far exceeding even the most robust Tesla Model S, Lucid’s all-electric sedan is poised to give its EV competitors a run for their money. It will have potential buyers running for their wallets as well because holy moly these cars are going to be pricey.
Built on the Lucid Electric Advanced Platform (LEAP), the all-wheel drive Lucid Air will be powered by either a single, double, or triple electric motor set producing a whopping 1,080 horsepower between them. That’s enough, the company claims, to propel the Air from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds with a 217 mph top speed. It can complete a quarter mile in under 10 seconds. The vehicle will also of course ride on an air suspension to help mitigate road vibration.
The Air’s 113 kWh battery pack is only slightly larger than the 100 kWh used in Tesla’s Model S Long Range Plus yet Lucid claims that the Air will be able to travel up to 517 miles on a single charge, easily dwarfing the Model 3’s 402 miles (and really any other EV vehicle currently on sale). This extended distance is brought about in part by the vehicle’s hyper-efficient battery management system and in part by its ludicrously low 0.21 drag coefficient, which will make the Air the most aerodynamic EV on the market. Of course, the distance Air drivers can travel will depend on the class of Air that they purchase, as the lower tier builds will offer less.
As the company claimed in August, the Air will be the fastest charging EV on the market when it becomes available. Thanks to the vehicle’s unique 900V electrical architecture, a level 23 DC fast charger can pour up to twenty miles of charge into the Air every minute. That works out to 900 miles of range an hour. What’s more, the Air will offer bidirectional charging, meaning that you can either charge your car from your home’s power supply or augment your home’s power supply with your car in the event of an outage.
The Air also boasts a supremely beefy advanced driver assist system (ADAS), dubbed DreamDrive. Billed as a “first-of-its-kind platform,” DreamDrive leverages 32 separate sensors spanning the optical, radar, ultrasonic, and LIDAR spectrums to keep drivers informed about conditions around them while enabling level 2 and level 3 semi-autonomous operation. The DreamDrive will also offer an array of voice activated commands and facial recognition technology to ensure that the driver remains attentive.
The vehicle’s interior is everything one would expect from a high-end luxury sedan. The Air offers wide views of the surrounding world through its expansive glass roof, while under-the-hood efficiencies enabled Lucid designers to maximize cabin space and provide drivers with the “largest frunk of any electric car to date.” Because if you can’t get some junk in your frunk then what’s even the point?
The Air’s dashboard is dominated by a “floating” 34-inch curved Glass Cockpit 5K display, though both the driver and front passenger will have access to a retractable Pilot Panel that handles system functions deeper than controlling the radio, A/C and windows. And unlike other EVs like the Polestar 2, which have gone to great lengths to strip every non-essential button and dial from their dashes, the Air offers tactile controls for steering wheel functions, radio volume and climate settings.
As for pricing, well, I hope you have a few spare arms and legs lined up because you’re going to need them -- either that or you’ll have to wait about a year to buy an Air. It will come in four classes. The Lucid Air is the base designation. It will be available in 2022 with an introductory price point of below $80,000, according to the company. The next step up, the Air Touring (406 mile range), drops in late 2021 and starts at $95,000. Beyond that, you’ve got the Air Grand Touring (517 mile range) which starts at $139,000 and will be released in mid 2021.
The first available Air, coming out spring 2021, is the “all-inclusive, limited-volume” Air Dream Edition (465 - 503 mile range). It features every bell and whistle the company could pack into its chassis and will retail for, no seriously, $169,000. Luckily, all four classes are eligible for the federal $7,500 EV tax credit so that should take a bit of the sting out of your six figure car purchase. Production is slated to begin at the company’s Casa Grande, AZ facility later this year.
Menlo Park-based Lucid Motors was founded in 2007 with an initial focus on building EV battery packs for other manufacturers. Atieva, the company’s technology wing, currently supplies the batteries used in all 24 Formula E race cars in conjunction with McLaren. It wasn’t until 2014 that the company shifted its focus on developing the aluminum frame prototype vehicle (codenamed Atvus) that eventually became the Air with plans to begin production two years later. However, the start of production was subsequently kicked back to late 2018 and again to late 2020.