It was not going to take long before someone had to come in and attempt to outdo Tesla at its own game. The EV start-up scene is getting intense with a swarm of new companies tinkering with the Tesla philosophy and polishing off the edges. Of all the new EVs, the Lucid Air seems one of the most convincing.
Lucid aims to take the Tesla Model S head-on in just about every department. The Air luxury sedan is a zero-emission luxury sanctuary that combines every facet of a conventional luxury car along with a genre-bending EV. It is the brainchild of Peter Rawlinson, the ex-Tesla/Jaguar/Lotus CEO of Lucid. He worked on the Model S and has applied all those learnings along with honing the recipe in the quest for the ultimate luxury EV.
Taking on Tesla
Well, a thorough drive in a production-spec car would answer those lofty claims. But the on-paper specs do make impressive reading for sure – and a slightly uncomfortable one if you are a Model S owner.
The figures that make or break any EV are its range and the performance of course. In case of the Air, it has an impressive estimated EPA range of over 500 miles and does 0-60 mph in under 2.5 seconds.
5K 34-inch glass cockpit display
The Model S Plaid though claims an under two second time for a similar 0-60 mph run. However, more than pure numbers, the design and execution of the simple concept of an EV matters more to us.
In case of the Lucid Air, it sits on a bespoke EV architecture that will underpin future Lucid models. It bears the flexibility of an EV platform, which helps immensely in its packaging. Lucid has also made smaller but more powerful batteries. It has a “space concept” theme with an airy, well-crafted interior. We certainly like the design of the cabin, which is not as simple as a Model S but features many layers and design flourishes.
There are a lot of free-form displays, including its 34-inch curved Glass Cockpit 5K display that “floats” above the dashboard. There is also a retractable “central Pilot panel” which carries all of controls of the car. There are also some physical buttons on the inside, including ribbed turbines for steering wheel functions, a volume control roller, and alloy toggle switches for tuning climate settings.
While the interior is impressive, the exterior is as radical as it gets, with a clean and minimalistic design which reeks of class. The shape is futuristic yet also harkens back to the simple yet timeless designs of luxury cars like the Citroen DS.
At the heart of the Lucid Air is a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive system which generates up to 1,080 horsepower. Lucid claims that it is the only electric sedan able to achieve a quarter-mile time under 10 seconds. This is also an in-house developed power train that weighs just 163lb (74kg).
Further, the car-maker also claims that the Air will be the fastest charging electric vehicle ever offered with the capability to charge at rates of up to 20 miles per minute. For owners charging their Lucid Air in real-world conditions on the road, that can translate into 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes of charging. That is due to a 900V+ electrical system comprising lithium-ion battery cells, a large battery and a thermal management system.
21-speaker surround sound audio system
There is more technology in the form of advanced driver-assistance systems, an in-house special lighting system, and a built-in Alexa functionality. Plus the Lucid Air first car to have a Dolby Atmos 21-speaker surround sound audio system.
The model range starts at below $80,000 USD but the Air Grand Touring model is $139,000. The flagship Air Dream Edition is a rather pricey $169,000. Reservations are open in the U.S. and Canada via a $1,000 USD refundable deposit or a $7,500 one if you want the Dream edition. The car would be retailed via Lucid Studios and service centres while deliveries will start later this year.
At these prices, Lucid will not have the segment of luxury EVs to its own, especially with the upcoming Model S Plaid and the Mercedes EQS amongst others. That said, the Lucid Air is a refreshing and an intriguing take on what an electric luxury sedan can be.