The Lucid Air wants to be the next EV game-changer. With a standard 400hp motor that can launch the vehicle 0-60 in a racetrack-like 2.5 seconds, a top speed of 200+ mph, and a range of up to 400 miles between charges, it has more power and more features than the Tesla S, and it costs less.
Lucid Air hopes to launch its luxury model for $52,000. That’s nearly $20,000 less than the basic 382-hp Tesla Model S, that starts close to $70,000. Tesla reportedly is dropping that basic model in favor of its more expensive upgrades. According to Eletrotek, the least expensive Model S will be the all-wheel version at $74,500.
Like Tesla, Lucid Motors is a Silicon Valley start-up. This one has the advantage of an experienced EV executive staff, most of who come from Tesla or BMW, including the division that launched the i3 and i8. I spent time recently with Lucid’s executive team and inspected a prototype being tested in both the US and in Europe.
Lucid Air is a gorgeous sweep of aerodynamic design outside, luxurious touches inside. And the technology!
My favorite feature are the headlights, a series of postage-stamp-sized directional mini-lamps set to different focal lengths, for brightness and clarity, that make high-beam unnecessary. Another design bonus is that the microlens technology uses half as much energy as even high-tech LEDs.
I also love the full glass roof, both for it’s open, airy feel, and because it could be fitted with mini solar panels to help power things like temperature control, extending driving range.
The glass roof also was part of the design of the original Fisker Karma, shown here, as was the plan to fit the roof with solar panels. Fisker Automotive changed its name and its ownership in 2015. The car company is now known as Karma Automotive, and owned by a Chinese conglomerate, and is introducing a $130,000 plug-in hybrid luxury sedan called the Karma Revera.
But I digress. Back to Lucid.
The microlens headlight design is part of the front grill, which is smaller than a conventional gas-powered car. “
Electric cars should look different than internal combustion cars, and a large grill is simply outdated” on an EV, Lucid design director Derek Jenkins told me.
Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Peter Rawlinson, a former Tesla Model S engineer, told me the Lucid Air is rated as a mid-size luxury car, lower and longer than the Tesla S, and with more interior room than the full-sizeMercedes-Benz S.
Interior designer Joanne Jung said “comfort comes first,” pointing out the body-hugging Recaro seats, flat-bottom steering wheel, elegant wood and leather features throughout, and a three large touch screens, each dedicated to a specific set of controls. The instrument cluster also features information on the autonomous driving features embedded in the car.
Lucid Air also is programmed to learn your preferences, like Siri, Alexa and Echo, and make suggestions, from driving mode to what to eat for dinner.
Lucid Motors is building a $700 million plant in Arizona, and hopes to produce 10-15,000 vehicles a year by 2019. By comparison, Tesla hopes to produce 20,000 Model 3 sedans a month by the end of 2017, but Tesla has a decade head start on Lucid.
Production manager Brian Barron, who ran BMW factories for 20 years, told me the plant is designed to “scale up” to meet demand, which Lucid hopes will be 100,000+ vehicles a year. Parts of the factory will be LEED certified, because it’s important to make green cars in green factories.
SEE ALSO Ecoxplorer article on the VW factory in Chattanooga, the world’s first LEED auto plant.
Unlike Tesla, which had design and production facilities in various locations, the Lucid team works together under one roof, which Lucid believes is more efficient for collaboration and quick changes to design or engineering.
Also unlike Tesla, Lucid Air was designed from the ground-up as a mid-price vehicle, with car-sharing in mind, although luxury options such as fully reclining seats similar to those on private jets, could boost the mid-50s starting price up to the six-figure cost of a Tesla X.
Lucid also is offering a blow-the-doors-off limited edition 1,000hp twin-motor option. Just don’t ask the price.
Like Tesla, Lucid will sell directly to customers, bypassing a dealer network. One of the sales managers is Doreen Allen, who was the first sales person at Tesla. “After seven years, it was time to leave,” she said, adding that she’s enjoying the challenge of building another EV sales force from scratch.
Will Lucid Motors succeed where other EV companies other than Tesla have failed? My fingers are crossed, except when I’m driving.
This article was written originally for my Green Wheeling column syndicated by Motor Matters and published in some newspapers nationwide. This version has some additional material not part of the original article.
Photos courtesy Lucid Motors and Fisker Automotive