Lucid Motors, the latest electric-vehicle startup to tilt at Tesla, unveiled the production version of its first model, the Air luxury sedan that boasts a twin-motor driveline and high-density battery pack that can generate a claimed 1000 horsepower, 2.5-s 0-to-60 mph acceleration and driving range up to 400 mi (644 km).
The Air is at least two years away from showrooms (whatever that might entail), however: production is earmarked to begin in late 2018 at the company’s recently inaugurated factory site in Arizona. The company promises sales would begin shortly thereafter. The car initially will cost more than $100,000, but Lucid intends to eventually sell a less luxury-oriented (and presumably reduced-performance) version for around $65,000, a starting price more in line with obvious competitor Tesla’s current Model S.
Revealing the Air near its Menlo Park, CA, headquarters, Lucid said the car will first be offered with a choice of battery capacities: a 100 kW·h “base” version and a 130 kW·h pack. The unique lithium-ion battery chemistry, developed in cooperation with Samsung SDI, was ten years in development, Lucid said; the form factor is cylindrical and is claimed to offer outstanding long-term capacity for repetitive fast-charging. Lucid recently announced it will be the exclusive battery-pack supplier to the global Formula E racing series.
Unique driveline, suspension technology
Head of design Derek Jenkins, who most recently worked at Mazda, delivered in the Air a smooth and rounded 4-door hatchback that appears upscale and futuristic without seeming overtly radical. The company did not supply any definitive figures regarding dimensions, but said in its press material distributed in conjunction with the Air’s launch: “Lucid’s vehicles transcend long established vehicle segment boundaries to accommodate the interior space of a full-size luxury vehicle in a midsize footprint.”
Meanwhile, Lucid’s chief technology officer is Peter Rawlinson—who before joining Lucid was the lead engineer for the Tesla Model S—but few engineering details were provided regarding the Air’s weight or chassis, other than a mention of an air-spring suspension with “regenerative valve technology.” The drive motor is said is to be integrated with a transmission. Lucid said of the unit: “Entirely developed in-house, the resulting solution is smaller, more efficient and more power-dense than competitors, while potentially more reliable.”
The Air’s interior, shown only in photos as a finished concept, is meant to accommodate four, with twin deeply-reclining rear seats. A 29-speaker audio system is said to help fill the white-noise void left by the absence of a combustion engine and its associated mechanicals.
Lucid also said the Air will be built to accommodate full-range autonomous-driving capability: “Lucid vehicles will be delivered autonomous-ready with a comprehensive sensor suite able to scale to complete autonomy through ongoing software upgrades,” the company said in a release.