Lucid Motors has formally introduced the Lucid Air Dream Edition, its luxury long-range electric saloon set to launch in the second quarter of 2021. The Lucid Air is the first electric car to out-Tesla, Tesla, so we're going to take a close look at what the Air has to offer.
You might ask, but what about the Porsche Taycan, wasn't that supposed to be the real "Tesla killer"? No, it definitely wasn't. The Taycan was always just supposed to be an electric Porsche. Porsche developed an electric car to live up to its own standards, not the standards of any other car company – that's the Porsche way.
Lucid, however, is entirely another story. Headed by Peter Rawlinson, the chief engineer on the Tesla Model S, the company set out to develop an electric saloon that was more efficient, more comfortable, faster charging, more aero-efficient, has more interior volume and luggage space, would be faster on the drag strip and had a longer driving range than the Tesla Model S. Although the Air won't start series production for another nine months or so, it appears they are about to achieve all of those lofty goals.
Lucid Air Interior
Lucid tells us the interior of the Lucid Air "reflects a revolution in how next-generation free form displays are elegantly integrated into the design architecture of the cabin, providing a beautiful and seamless way of interacting with the vehicle software and human-centric user interface."
In front of the driver sits a huge 34-inch, curved glass 5K display that appears to float above the dashboard. In my time with the Porsche Taycan, I really enjoyed its beautiful 16.8-inch curved driver's display. The Air's display is more than twice as long as the Taycan's and is broken up into three distinct content sections.
In addition to the digital displays, there are several highly tactile, precision-milled physical controls, including ribbed turbines on the steering wheel, a volume control roller, and alloy toggle switches to adjust the climate control system. Additionally, Lucid has partnered with Amazon to implement an advanced version of Alexa Built-In into the Air.
Owners will be able to use Alexa for navigation, phone calls and messaging, streaming media, smart home control, as well as adding items to a shopping cart or to-do list. The system will also allow for vehicle control features including adjusting the climate system. Over time, the system will add even more features via over-the-air (OTA) updates.
The entire roof is glass and provides plenty of natural light, it also serves to optimise the space in the cabin by increasing passenger headroom and adding to the spaciousness on the Air's cabin. Speaking of which, we recently reported that due to Lucid's "Space Concept" architecture, it will have the largest cabin in its class as well as the most luggage space of any vehicle, ICE or electric, with 26.1 cubic feet (739 litres) of luggage space. For comparison, a Mercedes S-Class has 18.7 cubic feet of boot space (529 litres), and that's considered very good for the class.
Lucid Air Exterior
Lucid's Space Concept architecture not only includes the miniaturisation of an electric drivetrain and battery pack, but it also extends the passenger cabin forward and to the rear, giving the Air a unique look that Lucid's VP of Design, Derek Jenkins, is quick to point out.
"The proportions of the Lucid Air are pretty unique for this size saloon where you have a very short hood, a pretty long cabin, and a very short trunk and that's just different than, say, if you think of your classic luxury saloon with a big long hood with the grill out front." - Derek Jenkins, VP of Design, Lucid Motors
Lucid tells us the Space Concept also contributes to the subtly different and modern proportions for the Lucid Air that don't rely on any traditional automotive design cues, instead delivering a beautiful car that looks entirely distinctive on the road.
The Lucid Air, while beautifully sculpted, is definitely a product of form following function, which explains the unique proportions. The quest to deliver the most efficient EV available today meant the team had to deliver an extremely slippery body. They did, as the Lucid Air will be the most aero-efficient car available when it launches next year, boasting a drag coefficient of just 0.21. The Tesla Model S, for comparison's sake, achieves a drag coefficient of 0.24.
Finally, the Lucid Air Dream Edition will be available with either 21-inch AeroDream wheels, or smaller 19-inch wheels that offer up to 38 more miles of EPA-rated driving range.
Lucid Air Battery & Charging
Lucid is particularly proud of its battery technology, and rightfully so. Lucid is the exclusive provider of battery technology for Formula E racing. Lucid engineered and manufactures the battery packs that all Formula E cars use. Additionally, Lucid also provides the battery management system for Formula E race cars.
The battery modules used in the Lucid Air are slightly different than those used for Formula E, as they are optimised for use in the Air, and Lucid's CEO Peter Rawlinson calls the two different modules "close cousins." There are 22 modules in the Air, each with slightly more than 5 kWh of energy storage. They add up to create the 113 kWh battery pack, which is considerably larger than the 100 kWh pack used by Tesla in the Model S.
The battery system is a 924-volt system, which is the highest voltage for any production EV battery pack. The large 113 kWh battery pack, combined with industry-leading efficiency, will allow the Lucid Air Grand Touring Edition to have an astonishing EPA range rating of 517 miles per charge.
However, having a super big battery can mean you're stuck waiting a long time for it to charge if the vehicle cannot charge at a high rate. Well, there shouldn't be much waiting for Lucid Air owners. That's because the Air can accept over 300 kW of power, surpassing the Porsche Taycan, which can accept up to 270 kW, and the Tesla Models 3 and Y, which can charge at rates up to 250 kW.
"I can't emphasize enough that all of this, 100%, is revolutionary technology. It's 100% in-house, and there is nothing else remotely close to this." - Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO of Lucid Motors, on Lucid's battery and powertrain technology
That's fast enough to add up to 20 miles of range per minute of charging and replenish 300 miles of range in only 20 minutes. It is important to note, however, that in order to charge at 300 kW, you need to find a DC fast charge station that can deliver that much power, and there aren't too many of them in the US just yet.
The Electrify America network currently has about 350 stations in the US that can deliver 300 kW, and the remaining approximately 1,800 stations max out at 150 kW or even 50 kW. However, more ultra-high-speed DC fast chargers are being deployed every month, and the infrastructure has been maturing quite rapidly.
The Lucid Air is also capable of bi-directional vehicle to grid capability. With bi-directional power flow capability, Lucid Air owners can use their vehicle to power their homes during an outage, and even fully power potential off-grid vacation properties.
For home charging, the Lucid Air can charge at up to 19.2 kW on AC charging equipment. Lucid will be offering an 80-amp "Connected Home Charging Station" that will deliver the 19.2 kW the car can accept, and also communicate with the Air and allow for vehicle to home bi-directional power flow.
Lucid Air Semi-Autonomous Driving
According to Lucid Motors, the all-electric Air will be the first electric vehicle offered with the combination of an advanced sensor suite, high-resolution LIDAR, a driver monitoring system, and a fully redundant platform as standard equipment on all vehicles.
Lucid's DreamDrive technology suite supports 19 safety, driving, and parking assist features that will be included on the Air at the start of production. There are also another eight features Lucid tells us are expected to be available at a later date and will be deployed via OTA updates.
The Air will launch with Level 2 Autonomous driving ability, but additional DreamDrive capabilities that will enable Level 3 driving continue to be in development.
The key features delivered by DreamDrive:
- Surround View Monitoring
- Blind Spot Display
- Cross Traffic Protection
- Traffic Sign Recognition
- Automatic Emergency Braking
- Alerts for distracted or drowsy drivers
- Full Speed Highway Assist (Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering)
- Traffic Drive-Off Alert
- Headlight Assist
- Autonomous Parking Assist
- Pullout Control
- Manoeuvre Comfort Braking
Lucid Air Performance Version
The good news doesn't end there. During a media presentation that Rawlinson made last week, the CEO and CTO presented a rear drivetrain for the Air that houses two drive units, capable of delivering 1,300 horsepower to the rear wheels. That confirmed rumours the company is working on a tri-motor performance version of the Air.
Lucid Air tri-motor performance model during testing
Considering the dual-motor Air Dream Edition has 1,080 bhp and can run a quarter-mile race in under 10 seconds, we can't wait to see what the tri-motor "performance version" is capable of. Rawlinson promised a "late 2021" availability of the Lucid Air Performance model.
Our guess is it will smash all production car records and get close to a quarter-mile time of nine seconds flat. Well, of course, that's if it beats the new Tesla Roadster to market, which is rumoured to run the quarter-mile in under nine seconds. And they told us electric vehicles would be boring!
Rawlinson presenting Lucid's Performance version's rear drive unit
Rawlinson explained that the Air's extremely compact motors serve multiple purposes. Not only do they allow for an extremely compact design capable of housing two drive units side by side, but they are smaller and lighter than any competitor's motors. Rawlinson explained that the Air's powertrain is actually 2.5 times smaller than the closest competitor. This allows for more interior space and lower weight, which in turn increases efficiency and driving range.
In fact, Rawlinson threw down the gauntlet and proclaimed that Lucid's technology is far superior to that of any current EV, including the "industry leader." He said anyone can add "dumb range" by simply using a huge battery pack. He went on to add that Lucid's efficiency is so much better than any other EV, they have a 17% efficiency advantage.
"Our car uses 17% less energy to go a certain distance than our closest competitor" - Peter Rawlinson
Rawlinson added that Lucid's technology is "akin to Lucid having a battery tech breakthrough in cost-effectiveness that is worth 20% and it's available today." And the numbers back it up. If the Lucid Air does attain the 517-mile EPA range rating that Lucid claims it will, it will be far more efficient than the current industry leaders.
The Model S, for instance, is EPA-rated at 402 miles and has a 100 kWh battery. That's an efficiency rating of 4.02 mi/kWh (15.42 kWh/100km). The Air Grand Touring can travel 517 miles with a 113 kWh pack, and that translates to 4.58 mi/kWh (13.55 kWh/100 km).
No Lucid SUV Love
Unfortunately, today's Lucid Air launch event didn't include any news about the future Lucid SUV that shares the Air's platform. We did, however, get some new pictures of the concept vehicle and will keep a vigilant watch for any new information about the next offering from the upstart brand.
2021 Lucid Air Pricing & Release Date
Lucid has announced four versions of the Air to be released at various times in 2021 and 2022. Initially, in the second quarter of 2021, the Air Grand Touring and the Air Dream Edition will be available at a pre-incentive cost of $139,000 and $169,000, respectively. Then in Q4 of 2021, the Air Touring model will be available starting at $95,000. Finally, in 2022, Lucid will offer the most affordable version of the vehicle, simply named Air. The Air will cost less than $80,000 to start and no other details on its performance or range have been provided.
|Late 2021||$95,000||406 miles|
|Air Grand Touring||Mid 2021||$139,000||517 miles|
|Air Dream Edition||Spring 2021||$169,000||406 / 503 miles|
Lucid tells us that the "heart of the Lucid Air lineup" will be the Air Touring and Air Grand Touring models. The Air Touring will have 620 hp while the Air Grand Touring adds another 180 hp for a total of 800 hp. The Air Grand Touring is the model that will offer the furthest driving range, which Lucid expects to be EPA-rated at 517 miles per charge.
Lucid had announced that every version of the Air will charge just as fast as the most expensive version, which we love to see. Fast charging is such an important part of the EV experience, and we hate to see customers forced to pay extra to charge their vehicle as rapidly as more expensive trim levels can.
The Dream Edition will be available in Stellar White, Infinite Black, and an exclusive Eureka Gold exterior finish, which will only be available on the limited-available Dream Edition. Lucid calls the Dream Edition interior its exclusive “Santa Monica-themed" interior, which includes full Nappa grain and Bridge of Weir leather with silvered Eucalyptus wood accents.
Thinking about buying yourself a Lucid Air? Reservations are open for customers in the US and Canada, as well as in select countries in Europe and the Middle East. Those interested can reserve the limited-production Dream Edition with a $7,500 USD refundable deposit. All other versions require a $1,000 (US) deposit, which is also refundable.
Not an online-ordering kind of person? That's OK because the Air will also be available to order at any of the 20 Lucid Studios and Services Centers that are planned to open across North America by the end of 2021. European and Middle East market delivery dates, pricing, and sales and service centre details will be announced at a later date.