Lucid Motors Reveals 'Air' EV Super Sedan - Will It Be Rarefied or a Total Vacuum?

Seth Parks
by Seth Parks

Wednesday night, in a nondescript warehouse southeast of San Francisco, Lucid Motors revealed its first car, and the almost-production ready Air has far more to offer than its name implies. This low slung sedan is a head turning, headline-grabbing car offering up to 1,000 horsepower and a 400 mile range.

The Air is palatably futuristic. Its appearance is striking, but neither groundbreaking nor tired. Based on the numbers, it should offer real sports-sedan driving dynamics. It follows a function-before-form design ethos featuring a dash-to axle ratio near zero, a roofline dramatically lower than anything else one might reasonably compare it to, and a hatch-cum-four-door coupe profile similar to some German products. The team has less than a year before the design is frozen, which is tomorrow in car years. This is not a concept car. We may expect the images seen here to closely approximate the final article, inside and out.

We cannot yet report on how it drives, though the company provided engineer-chauffeured rides. From the passenger seat the Air rides low, smooth, and quiet. And it accelerates like an F-16. Lucid asserts it is an uncompromising drivers car. We enthusiastically anticipate independently verifying their claim.

The interior portrays the function first, contemporary minimalist style one might expect from a California-forward auto manufacturer, or a Swedish furniture maker. A quadruple screen cockpit welcomes the driver. Three screens are mounted behind a single pane with a subtly sculpted flat bottom steering wheel in front. A retractable iPad-like 12-inch touch screen occupies the center stack. Four or five occupants, depending on option package, are cosseted in a variety of warm touch fabrics and accents. This car is built people first, rather than platform first, which enabled the inclusion of a rear executive seating package with near fold-flat reclining seats. The rear thrones may be the most comfortable seats this side of a Gulfstream V. The company says the car has a Mercedes E-class like footprint with an S-Class like interior volume.

Lucid has officially joined the race with Faraday Future, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and others to build the first proper Tesla Model S rival. And while Lucid is not a household name, neither is it a personal electronics maker or an internet search engine operator trying to break into a new industry. Lucid is a company with a singular automotive focus. It is stacked with auto industry insiders and has been active in the development of Lithium-ion Battery technology since 2007.

The company has existed for almost a decade, but was little known 11 months ago, and just gave itself a new name in October. The rebranding has now begun in earnest. The little company-that-may has been on a roll since releasing video in July depicting its re-powered Mercedes Metris minivan drag racing and defeating both a Tesla and a Ferrari. In November , Lucid brought the Air to the LA Auto Show, albeit under artful camouflage. The company announced in late November that it inked a deal to build a new $700 million production facility in Arizona. Then, three days ago, the company announced a development breakthrough made in conjunction with its battery partner Samsung SDI, enabling its tremendous 2.5-second 0-60 mph acceleration and Baltimore to Boston range.

The Air will employ a standard 100 kWh battery pack, similar in size to Tesla’s most recent top-end unit. To achieve its promised 400-mile range, customers will need to opt for the optional 130 kWh battery pack. Lucid is not the only company aiming to deliver a battery pack capable of 400 miles on a single charge, but it may be the first to market if it delivers on its late 2018 production schedule. Pricing is predictably fluid at this point, though reservations are being accepted. Expect early high-content Airs to retail around $150,000 with later follow-on models at around half that.

[Images: Lucid Motors]

Seth Parks
Seth Parks

Twenty year auto industry professional. Currently CEO at Turbo International, the premier American manufacturer of OEM replacement turbochargers for the global aftermarket.

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  • Dave W Dave W on Dec 16, 2016

    A BE-utiful concept. But until they start letting the public get their greasy fingers on actual cars consider me unimpressed with the company. If they've just inked the deal for a factory a month ago how dated will this car look before the first production chassis rolls down the line? I hope they can do it, but I'm not their market. Elio has at least made several iterations public. Admittedly they are aiming at a demographic where they need everyone to be aware they exist in hopes of coaxing some into buying. Still more then one example would show they're doing more then massaging a one off to a level their production cars can't match at an economic price. It is possible to lose money even at $150K per, (Ask VW about Bugatti) particularly when selling to people used to getting every cent they spend back in comfort or exclusivity. Double particularly when they feel it's more important for the car to be seen with them, then them to be seen in the car.

  • Rust-MyEnemy Rust-MyEnemy on Dec 17, 2016

    Reminds me of the late '60s Lamborghini Marzal concept. If Lambo could have thrown away the half-a-V12 engine idea and magicked Li-Po battery technology out of a hat for it...

  • Akear I just wish GM could produce a vehicle 80% as good as the crown.I sat in a Trax at a Chevrolet dealership this weekend and was shocked how cheap it felt. GM does not care.GM - what a disgrace!
  • Akear I like the grill treatment of all Mitsubishi products. It is an interesting and original design.
  • El scotto Some rambling thoughts; Elon is pulling billions in cash out of Tesla. Tesla will be around, Elon won't let them fail. Mitsubishi is an odd place, you can't sell vehicles if you don't have dealers. Out of all the "Automalls" near you, how many have a Mitsubishi dealership? The Agnellis owned Fiat, Fiat got sold to Stellantis. The Agnellis control Exor. How much of Stellantis does Exor own? I really should be drinking beer with Billy Ford and talking Big-10 trash with him. Ford and Lucid should work out a partnership. You want an electric Lincoln? Have Lucid build it and slap a Lincoln name plate on it. BTW, kick Farley's butt to the curb.
  • Akear US contentChevrolet Trax - 5%Honda Pilot - 52%What a disgrace!I glad Consumer Reports panned the Trax, and put it on its avoid list.
  • Akear This is similar to what lazy GM and Ford used to do.
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