Upstart Lucid Banks on Big Numbers, Not Bodystyle

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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upstart lucid banks on big numbers not bodystyle

There’s no shortage of fledgling electric automakers peddling their future wares, so how does an embryonic car company avoid becoming just a face in the crowd? If you’re Lucid Motors, you aim for big numbers. The kind that matter to motoring enthusiasts, not environmentalists.

With its first model, the Air, Lucid plans to wow would-be buyers not just with an impressive driving range, but also power and acceleration specs. Those early numbers arrived today, one week ahead of the production model’s public debut.

Feel like running the quarter mile in fewer than 10 seconds? Lucid claims that, in top-flight guise, the Air can do just that. In dual-motor, all-wheel drive spec, the sedan is said to be “able to achieve quarter-mile times as low as 9.9 seconds on a consistent, repeatable


To put that number in some sort of context, Dodge claims the 2021 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, maker of 797 horsepower, can do it in 10.6 seconds. Eye-popping quickness for sure, though the eco crowd might look down on such an outlandish display of muscle flexing as needlessly wasted electrons. Battery capacity and electricity generation isn’t without its own upstream environmental impacts.

Yet Lucid seems to know what an Air customer looks like, and what these consumers care about. While lesser Airs made to with a single motor, even that model isn’t a slough. The automaker revealed its in-house drivetrain today, making quite a fuss over the potency and compactness of the proprietary units. Combining permanent magnet motor, inverter, and transmission, the drive units are said to weight just 163 pounds. Output for one unit can be as high as 670 hp.

In dual-motor guise, the pinnacle Air makes 1,080 ponies, fueled by a huge — and apparently quite energy dense — 113 kWh battery pack. A 900V electrical architecture enables the car to take on 300 miles of range in 20 minutes, assuming one can find an ultra-fast charging station. And as we told you already, a third-party testing outfit pegged the leggiest Air at 517 miles of EPA-estimated range.

To recap: huge power, boffo range, and speed to spare. Seems like a recipe tailor-made to attract those who wouldn’t otherwise find themselves drawn to an electric car. Someone who gets a kick out of bragging rights and showing off, even if it means forking over big dollars. As Lucid has no intention of knocking Nissan off its green people’s car pedestal, this all sounds like the automaker will instead fill a specific niche in the emissions-free ecosystem.

The automaker admits as much.

In an interview with Autoblog, Emad Dlala, a technology fellow at Lucid, weighed in on the company’s decision to launch the brand with a sedan, rather than a truck or SUV like rival Rivian.

“Even if we take a small percentage of that luxury segment, we’re going to be fine. We’re not going to see a shortage of orders,” Dlala said. “Another thing is, as a startup, you can go with the best product in terms of how desirable it is, but even if the specs are OK, you are probably not going to succeed as well as with a car with sensational specs, even if demand is not as high. That’s what we think the sedan will lead us to: much better specifications.”

The Air’s long road to readiness ends Sept. 9, when buyers can finally take a look at the production-ready product slated to arrive in driveways (via an Arizona assembly plant) in 2021.

[Images: Lucid Motors]

Steph Willems
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  • Aja8888 Aja8888 on Sep 02, 2020

    Guy's don't wait up at night expecting ICE cars to be gone like the dinosaurs anytime soon. EV's are just too expensive and the batteries are the weak spot, from a safety, range and material availability standpoint. Don't forget that probably 90% of ICE car drivers are low level wage earners with probably a wife and two kids to support. They are buying the "sedans" and small "crossovers" that the Big Guns put out by the MILLIONS. This is worldwide, BTW. I suspect those 90% of ICE buyers may wander into the EV market when a used one can be had for $10 -12 grand. And that may be a long while from now, given the small market share EV's have.

    • See 2 previous
    • RHD RHD on Sep 07, 2020

      A Honda Civic hybrid battery costs about $2000, including installation. Claims of $5000+ are inaccurate and misleading. The hyperbole about how expensive electric cars are to replace batteries in is right-wing nonsense. Next year I'm installing solar panels, and I would consider adding an electric car to the fleet. Just not paying $50 or more to fill up would fill pretty good. The quietness of an EV has to be experienced to be appreciated, and the acceleration will open your eyes.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Sep 02, 2020

    "Combining permanent magnet motor, inverter, and transmission, the drive units are said to weight just 163 pounds." This would look amazing in the engine bay of my GMT400 pickup about 6 years from now. (Let me know if you total your Lucid Air and would like to sell the drive unit.) [I will also be on the lookout for some next-gen batteries. Replacing the weight of the current engine and transmission with this drive unit and some nice batteries half a decade from now would make for an exceptionally clean installation (can keep my current flatbed height). Don't need a lot of range for this vehicle, but might end up with plenty by then.]

  • Analoggrotto Buyers are skipping these in droves and heading down to sign the golden paperwork for a new Telluride. ATPs speak volumes and we have 'em. Our customers are telling us that we offer Mercedes quality for a better deal, and our suite of luxury features rivals any luxury automaker. Insult me all you want, but AVMs, DSDs and BSODs tell the truth.
  • Ted Lulis The Exodus from California is mind-boggling. No surprise from the rectum of the country
  • Mr Imperial Seeing the adjusted-for-inflation amount always makes me sick, I can't believe how much it has gone up in my 40-some-odd trips around the sun. Still fondly remember seeing these and Ford Explorers everywhere.
  • Kyl65759578 👋
  • ToolGuy I appreciate the thoughtful comments from the little people here, and I would like to remind everyone that Ford Motor Company offers a full range of vehicles which are ideal for any driving environment including New York City. The size and weight our of product portfolio has been fully and completely optimized to be friendly to the planet and friendly to pedestrians while consuming the bare minimum of resources from our precious planet (I am of course a lifelong environmentalist). Plus, our performance models will help you move forward and upward by conquering obstacles and limits such as congestion and your fellow humans more quickly at a higher rate of speed. I invite you to learn more at our website.Signed, William Clay Ford Jr.