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]
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