By on September 9, 2020

Minus an unpleasant amount of virtue signaling, the Lucid Air debut was pretty good. But this is technically a commercial so what else could we have possibly expected? Lucid is an electric vehicle brand so it’s required by law to succumb to the growing list of EV clichés. Building this car the way Lucid does won’t just be better for the environment, “it will be better for all mankind.” We need to rally together because the world is ending. This startup is changing by building an extravagant automobile  that was the gist of the presentation anyway.

“We’re a California company,” explained the car’s interior designer. The Golden State was apparently so important that the interior color palates are based entirely on the way the sun plays off California’s various regions at different times of the day. They even held the event on the state’s birthday and made sure to mention it.

You get the idea. It started out a complete drag. And yet the car itself was quite interesting and the technical portions of the presentation excelled at explaining why someone might actually want this car over literally everything else that’s on the market right now. 

This was more of a debut for the Lucid brand as a whole than something that was singularly focused on the Air. We had to hear about the way the company plans on designing its dealerships, about how green its factory (Arizona’s Casa Grande) is, and other disparate items that left the event feeling somewhat disjointed.

It’s not every day you get to watch a presentation about a frunk (front trunk) that proves it’s unequivocally the largest on the market. But that was Lucid’s opener. Never mind that the Lucid Air can run a quarter-mile in an alleged 9.9 seconds (when in its 1,080-horsepower format), tell me more about this gigantic storage area where I’d expect to find an engine.

Speaking of powertrains, the Air relies on Lucid’s Lucid Electric Advanced Platform (LEAP). It’s your classic skateboard architecture with the manufacturer claiming it had miniaturized components its rivals don’t, resulting in more interior space for occupants. But the motors themselves were left mysterious, as were the battery options. We know the base-model Air will start at $80,000 and will be available last, sometime in 2022. The Air Touring (starting at $95,000) is next up the ladder and boasts an impressive 620 horsepower and has an estimated range of 406 miles. Grand Touring trims ($139,000) are rated for 517 miles and 800 horsepower. The Air Dream Edition is the fanciest and will be the first to arrive in the summer of 2021. Starting at $169,000, it’s the one that will supposedly get you the sub-10-second quarter-mile time.

Lucid said to note that these prices are all subject to change and reminded customers to take into account the $7,500 federal tax credit they’ll be eligible for.

While the Air has a compelling shape, it’s becoming too familiar. Consider Porsche’s Taycan, Nio’s ET, Polestar’s Precept, or Faraday Future’s FF 91. Each of these EVs debuted in neutral color palates with razor-thin headlamps, bar tail lamps, and highly similar profiles. Most of them are also covert hatchbacks that look like sedans  including the Air. None of them are bad looking, quite the opposite. But there’s a faint sameness to them that’s mildly disheartening, even if this particular brand of minimalist futurism happens to be easy on the eyes. It’s like they all doing something different the exact same way. Perhaps it’s the constant obsession with drag coefficients, which just so happens to be particularly low on the Air at just 0.21.

Charging is said to be fast. Under ideal circumstances, customers can expect to recoup 20 miles per minute when plugged into a DC fast-charger. But there will also be a series of home-charging solutions, including one that allows energy to be shared between the car and the home.

Tesla was not mentioned during the event but it was still issued a couple of minor burns. The first attack came when Lucid passive-aggressively noted how valuable the paint factory was to the rest of its production facility. The second came when the Air’s interior was shown to have a huge 34-inch display wrapped around the driver instead of sitting in the middle of the cabin. Lucid’s display is also paired to a smaller touchscreen located between the front seats.

The interior is probably the Air’s greatest strength. It’s attractive and looks like the kind of place you’d want to spend your time. The vast greenhouse is welcoming but it doesn’t seem to offer much privacy and one has to wonder what happens in direct sunlight without some UV protection. Front seats are black to evoke a sense of sportiness while the back will have brightly colored upholstery to give a dash of calmness  which you can make even calmer by splurging on executive-style seating. Sadly, fixed luxury seats will be all that’s available at launch and they are all labeled with little bears to remind everyone of California.

So much mention made of California.

Dream Drive, Lucid’s autonomous vehicle suite, will be available at launch. However, it’s only rated for SAE Level 2, meaning it’s not even remotely autonomous and doesn’t get to rub anything in Tesla’s face. An upgraded version is said to be made available via over-the-air updates eventually and that is exactly what Elon Musk has been telling us for years. Air does have an impressive sensor/camera array, however, and they’ll support all the creature comforts you’d find on any other high-end model. The company tried to make it sound like it was on par, if not better than Tesla in terms of advanced driving aids. But we’re withholding all judgment until Lucid proves its fully realized its goals.

There were some key technical items missing from the presentation. But we’re assuming that will be revealed soon enough. It’s taken us so long just to get to this point that we don’t want to assume anything. Lucid unveiled the Air in late 2016 and announced plans for a factory in Arizona only to find itself running out of money. The company has since claimed a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund saved the day and has allowed it to make the car even better than before.

Production begins on the most expensive versions of the Air next spring, with deliveries commencing the following summer. From there, the company wants to introduce the next-highest trim every quarter. Interested parties can visit the brand’s website to make a $1,000 reservation.

[Images: Lucid]

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15 Comments on “Frunk Yeah: Lucid Air Debuts, Starts at $80,000...”


  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    There’s something about that cut-line for lack of a better word in the truck/hatch/quarter panel area that’s off-putting. This would definitely look better in a darker color that might hide that. Otherwise, the rest of the exterior is almost a minimalist dream that I would like.

    Are there plans for Semi-Lucid to compete against the Model 3, and should we expect these to exist in the same areas as Teslas have done?

    • 0 avatar
      boowiebear

      I am with you. My eye went right to that panel line for the back thingy, whatever it is. Unless there is some strong functional reason for it, from a design standpoint it certainly draws the eye…not maybe in the best way. Agree dark color will help. Like to see the competition and on paper it looks good, but lots of vapor in e-car land, so don’t believe it until it is in my driveway….which this will never be as I can’t afford it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lynchenstein

        But the $7500 tax credit! I’m glad the ultra wealthy will be receiving this tax break, they clearly need it.

        • 0 avatar
          Oberkanone

          Lucid base prices exceeds the median household income of $75,500 annual for a familiy in the United States. Providing a tax credit of $7500 to buyers of this luxury vehicle does little to nothing for the environment.

          IMHO this is absurd tax policy.

  • avatar
    aja8888

    All these cars are starting to look the same. And most of them will never make it to the marketplace in large numbers due to price. We are riding right into an economic depression now, and that’s about the same time this model will roll out the door (or not).

  • avatar
    TimK

    Yes, those odd cuts in the sheet metal are jarring, but then you realize they are selling a large, four door sedan, supposedly an ancient cliche other companies are abandoning. Are they going after the EV limo market?

  • avatar
    la834

    > Most of them are also covert hatchbacks that look like sedans — including the Air.

    The Lucid Air does not have a hatchback, unfortunately.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    It’s as ugly as sin. :-/

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I realize the Arizona taxpayers are only chipping in pocket money on this deal (tens of millions rather than billions) but they are subsidizing a pretty ugly rig.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…alleged 9.9 seconds”

    “will supposedly get you the sub-10-second quarter-mile time”

    It does, and there is video evidence:
    https://www.autoweek.com/news/green-cars/a33916340/watch-the-lucid-air-dream-do-a-14-mile-in-99-seconds/

    9.9 seconds at 144 mph is pretty quick.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “But there’s a faint sameness to them that’s mildly disheartening”

    Why direct this comment at electric sedans, even when they’re attractive? The same could be said for every class of car, truck, CUV, and SUV on sale today, with a few exceptions.

    And then when a mfr makes something a little unique, it’s criticized (gen 1 Honda Ridgeline), or doesn’t sell (anything Mazda).

  • avatar
    R Henry

    The photos illustrating the new WhizBang2020 EV are completely out of phase with the 1960’s Palm Springs minimalist residential architecture in the background.

    — That house should have a Jag Series I E-Type in front of it… with Frank Sinatra leaning against it while smoking a cigarette with one hand and feeling up Jill St. John with the other…

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    1. It is ugly, especially from the rear quarter angle;
    2. It is egregiously expensive, even moreso than a similarly equipped Tesla
    3. Its a sedan, no one is buying sedans.
    4. “We’re a California company,” explained the car’s interior designer. The Golden State was apparently so important that the interior color palates are based entirely on the way the sun plays off California’s various regions at different times of the day. – Its corny.

    I wish Lucid luck, but absent a buyout or massive infusion of cash, I sense another Fisker.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      Lucid emphasized in their unveiling that trying to sell other automakers their technology is one of their three key missions. It will be the one they fall back on if the car doesn’t sell.

  • avatar
    chris724

    Several tens of these will be rolling off the line every month…

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