For many of us, the first time we were introduced to the Lucid Air was when it was featured on tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee’s YouTube channel back in 2017. The concept that we saw then was elegant, luxury, and high tech.
After a period of financial struggles, Lucid is finally ready to bring the car to market, with its official unveiling on the 9th of September. During the announcement, Lucid is set to unveil a vehicle that they believe will take on the Model S, in almost all categories, including price.
Given that Lucid is a relatively new company, and this is their very first production vehicle, this would be an impressive feat to pull off, but Lucid think they’ve done it. Here are the top eight most exciting features of the upcoming Lucid Air.
TLDR; Lucid Air Features
- 517 Mile Range.
- 350 kW charging.
- Autonomy and OTA software updates.
- Panoramic glass roof.
- Executive rear seating.
517 Mile Range
Despite the Lucid website stating that the Air will have a range ‘over 400 miles’, a blog post by the company states that the electric vehicle achieved an estimated EPA range of 517 miles on a single charge. The company also published a short video highlighting the event.
According to Lucid, the range was tested by FEV North America, which is an independent range tester. Lucid added that the testing procedure used was the same one as is used by the EPA (environmental protection agency), meaning the range that the Air achieved should be a reasonably accurate EPA estimate.
The blog post includes a quote from the CEO, Peter Rawlinson:
“I believe that our 900-volt architecture, our race-proven battery packs, miniaturized motors and power electronics, integrated transmission systems, aerodynamics, chassis and thermal systems, software, and overall system efficiency have now reached a stage where they collectively set a new standard and deliver a host of ‘world’s firsts,’”
Shortly after the 517-mile range announcement, Lucid released more details about the charging rate of the Air. It will be capable of DC fast charging that allows it to suck 20 miles worth of range every minute from the grid, at a rate of 350KW. However, it is worth noting there that I said ‘capable’. Currently, there is only one 350KW Electrify America charger in California.
Furthermore, the Air comes fitted with a 19.2kW onboard AC charger, which allows it to charge at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour from AC sources that can deliver enough power.
What’s most interesting, though, is the inclusion of fully bi-directional charging with Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) capabilities. This technology allows Lucid’s first electric vehicle to transfer energy from the battery to the grid, or from the battery to another car’s battery. Although the technology is not currently in use by the grid or other car manufacturers, Lucid could enable this at a later date when the technology becomes more widely used.
Finally, V2X allows the car’s battery to power a house in the event of a power cut. Lucid’s battery pack is most likely at least 120 kWh, which means it has the capacity of around 10 Tesla Powerwalls.
Presently, the pricing structure of the Air is largely being kept under wraps. Since the Air was announced, Lucid has maintained that it will start at around $60,000, before tax credits and destination fees. As an additional perk, the Air will come with three years of complimentary charging using VW’s Electrify America charging network.
Additionally, Lucid has said that the top-of-the-line models of the Air will most likely retail in the six figures, but closer to $100,000 than $200,000. This will be the option with the executive options like almost fully reclining rear seats.
Lucid Motors technology wing, Atieva, has been supplying the battery packs for the entire 24-car Formula E racing season of 2019/2020. Because of this, they have experience in making battery packs that can cater for an intensive load.
This knowledge of battery packs really shows in the claimed specs of the Air. According to Lucid’s website, the car will be capable of 0-60mph in under 2.5 seconds. Further to this, it will be capable of over 200mph, with a prototype, stripped down version hitting 235mph.
Despite the 0-60mph time falling short of the Tesla Model S’s neck-breaking 2.3 seconds, it’s no slouch. Furthermore, a top speed of over 200mph smokes the 162mph top speed of the Model S.
The design of any vehicle is subjective. There will always be people who like it, and others who don’t. The Air was designed for efficiency; that’s clear from the design. It’s sleek, rounded, and has a drag coefficient of 0.21, better than both the Model S’s 0.23 and the Model 3’s 0.23.
Although modern, the front of the vehicle is fairly conventional, as is the central section of the body. However, the rear is what makes this car different, for better or for worse; I’ll leave that up for your judgement.
Either way, the rear end of the car does offer some advantages in the form of practicality. It allows for a large boot, as well as the option for almost fully reclining executive seats, a feature which we’ll come to later.
Autonomy and OTA Software Updates
Over the air (OTA) software updates were first introduced by Tesla with the Model S. Since then, other manufacturers have slowly adopted the technology, but still not to the same extent as Tesla.
Just like many other features of the Air, Lucid’s strategy seems to rival that of Tesla’s; frequent software updates that make the car considerably better as time passes. For example, updates that make the autonomous driving features safer and more accurate, or that add new features such as sentry mode and dog mode in Tesla’s cars.
Whilst we’re on the subject of Autonomy, Lucid claims that its cars are ‘Autonomous Ready’, meaning the car comes with all the necessary hardware to enable it to drive itself in the future. Importantly, this doesn’t mean the car will be able to drive itself on release. It doesn’t seem as though Lucid has built up all the necessary software to facilitate this. Rather, they are working on it, and you can expect early versions of the software to be released within the next few years.
Panoramic Glass Roof
Similarly to Tesla’s Model 3 and Y, the Lucid Air comes with a full panoramic glass room as standard. Although it’s not quite as seamless as Tesla’s offerings, it’s still extremely good looking.
When Marques Brownlee did a first look at the car a few years back, he noted that the company was working on a feature which would allow the roof to become less transparent at the touch of a button. This would be extremely useful for something like camping, where you didn’t want other people looking into the car.
Executive Rear Seating
As an optional extra, Lucid is offering ‘executive rear seating’, which are capable of 55 degrees of recline. These were ‘inspired by an executive jet’, according to the company. This would make the car extremely comfortable for rear passengers on a long journey, though it seems more like a feature that would be used in a chauffeur-driven car.
The downside is it requires a LOT of space, and would dramatically reduce the boot capacity. Fortunately, the Air comes as standard with a large boot, so it should still fit a small suitcase or two in. We also mustn’t forget that this is an electric vehicle, meaning it has a frunk (front trunk/boot). From what we say in MKBHDs video, this is much larger than the Model S, and could even be as large as the boot in the back with the seats reclined. If this was the case, it would essentially double the storage compartment capacity of the Air.
Who Is the Lucid Air For?
Clearly, the Lucid Air has a lot of exciting features, but with a price tag of over $60,000, who is it actually for?
Lucid has made it very clear that their pricing strategy now mirrors that of Tesla’s back in 2008 with the Roadster. First, bring a small volume, high price electric car to the market to get some production practice and raise funds. Next, move into a medium volume vehicle with a medium price tag. Finally, go into the mass market, comparatively cheap electric vehicles.
It seems as though Lucid has skipped the first ‘high price’ step and is moving straight onto the medium price car, though the higher-spec versions of the Air would fit into the high price category. This makes sense given that electric cars have developed significantly since Tesla came out with the Roadster.
The target market for the Air is prospective Model S owners. Lucid aims to beat the Model S in almost all important categories, and they seem to have done just that. That is, providing they can deliver it all. Either way, competition is almost always a good thing to increase the pace of innovation.