The Lucid Air luxury EV completed a quarter-mile track at an amazing 9.9 seconds, faster than the Tesla Model S.
The days of fearing that you might run out of juice when driving an electric car may be coming to an end with the development of the longest-range battery-powered vehicle yet.
Silicon Valley-based Lucid Motors, one of several electric vehicle start-ups hoping to become the next Tesla, revealed an electric car capable of going up to 517 miles on a single charge. That means you could drive from New Orleans to Nashville, from Washington, D.C. to Indianapolis., or from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska, without having to charge up.
Lucid Motors on Wednesday debuted the production model of the Lucid Air, a slickly designed mid-size sedan boasting many of the same features as Tesla’s ultra-luxury Model S.
Lucid CEO and Chief Technical Officer Peter Rawlinson, who previously served as chief engineer for the Model S, said the production will begin in early 2021 at the company’s plant in Arizona. Pilot production has already begun, he said.
Lucid developed a proprietary electric motor, electricity inverter and stackable battery pack system based on its expertise in developing batteries for Formula E racecars.
“What we’ve got is a breakthrough in electric cars,” Rawlinson said. “Lucid is going to change the world.”
The base model, called the Lucid Air, will start at “below $80,000” with unspecified range and engine output. The Lucid Air Touring model will start at $95,000 with range of 406 miles and 620 horsepower. The Air Grand Touring will start at $139,000 with range of 517 miles and 800 horsepower. A limited-edition performance model called the Lucid Air Dream Edition will start at $169,000 with range of 465 or 503 miles depending on wheel size and 1,080 horsepower.
Tesla’s longest-range electric car is the Model S Long Range Plus, which gets 402 miles and starts at $74,990, though it can cost more than $100,000 when options are factored in.
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The Air Grand Touring and Air Dream Edition will arrive in the second quarter of 2021, while the Air Touring will arrive in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the Air in 2022, the company said.
The Air Dream Edition goes 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds, while the Air Grand Touring goes 0 to 60 in 3 seconds and the Air Touring in 3.2 seconds. The company did not reveal the base Air’s 0 to 60 time.
Much like other electric vehicle startups – such as Nikola, Rivian, Bollinger Motors and Lordstown Motors – perhaps the biggest obstacle for Lucid is whether it can manufacture the vehicle efficiently and obtain the financing necessary to survive in the extremely competitive automotive industry.
Financing is taken care of for now. In 2019, Lucid obtained a $1 billion investment from the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.
Rawlinson said Lucid’s technology and team of 1,000 employees set the company apart.
The vehicle is “truly mass-producible,” Rawlinson said. “It’s 100% in-house, and there is nothing else remotely close to this.”
Designers sought to maximize interior space by minimizing components devoted to the drivetrain, and it shows. The vehicle has what Rawlinson called “the largest frunk in the world,” referring to storage space where gas-engine vehicles have a hood for an engine.
While the longest-range model will get 517 miles in federally certified range, Rawlinson said, “I think we can do better than that by the time we get to production.”
He said the company’s goal is to make 34,000 vehicles per year once it completes its first phase of ramp-up, with plans to get up to 400,000 per year within six years. By comparison, Tesla sold 367,500 vehicles worldwide in 2019, up 50% for the year.
Rawlinson said Lucid is also planning to launch an energy storage division, much like Tesla sells batteries for home electricity usage and utilities.
Derek Jenkins, Lucid’s vice president of design, said the Lucid Air’s unique design elements include what he believes is “the largest taillight on any production vehicle,” as well as aerodynamic air shutters on the fascia. The vehicle also boasts a 34-inch curved screen where the instrument panel is typically positioned on conventional cars. It will use facial recognition technology to confirm the identity of the driver.
The vehicle has an iPad-style tablet on the center console, much like Tesla vehicles and other luxury models such as the recently redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But there are analog buttons on the steering wheel for easy access, plus buttons on the center console for controlling the temperature.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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