There’s no lack of hype in the EV industry. With a few exceptions (Tesla, mostly), we’ve seen more futuristic concepts and grandiose promises than anything resembling substance – you know, real-world vehicles that you can see and touch. In some cases, the claims of EV companies are so wild that it’s hard to even take them seriously.
That’s why we didn’t set our expectations too high when we were invited to check out Lucid Motor’s Air last Sunday in Newport Beach, Calif. But we actually came out very impressed. We got to see a polished vehicle – albeit still in prototype form – that made us very optimistic about the future of Lucid.
There were two Air vehicles on display. The first, a highly-polished prototype, showcased the design and interior of the car (the highest-end trim level to be precise); the second, which we were offered a short ride in, was a mule, a test car painted in a camouflage pattern and packed with electronics and measuring equipment. This second model demonstrated the car’s handling and breathtaking acceleration, though sadly we weren’t allowed to drive it ourselves.
The Lucid Air is a sleek, luxurious Space Age machine. The massive rims, the luscious metallic paint, and especially the ultra-narrow “micro-lens” LED headlights made a very strong impression, without being too ostentatious. The short prow (there’s no big engine to house) is continued by the swept windshield and panoramic glass roof, contributing to the very airy atmosphere inside.
The Air’s exterior dimensions are those of a mid-sized sedan, but thanks to the electric powertrain, the room inside (especially for the rear seat passengers) is comparable to what you get on a flagship sedan like the Mercedes S-Class. EV’s by their nature can offer more interior space compared to their ICE cousins, but Lucid pushed the envelope of comfort and luxury with the deeply-reclining seats, which allow passengers to stretch out and relax, almost like in a business class plane seat.
There’s an abundance of tasteful materials, including aluminum, wood and swede, and everything is as smooth and plush as you’d expect from an exclusivist limousine. The front of the car has a sportier vibe, though it’s still extremely high-end. As you’d expect from a modern vehicle like the Air, the dashboard is dominated by touchscreen displays, somehow similar to the Tesla Model S and Model 3.
Lucid (formerly known as Atieva) is based in the Bay Area of Northern California and the company is proud of its roots. The natural landscape of the Golden State was used as inspiration for the design of the car, the team said. As a discreet homage, each car bears the geographical coordinates of a specific location in California – the model we’ve seen had the city of Santa Cruz.
The Lucid Air uses the skateboard design we’ve seen on other recent EVs, with the 100 kWh or 130kWh battery pack mounted on the bottom of the car between the axles. That gives the car a very low center of gravity. In conjunction with the air dampeners, the heavy base of the Air lets it negotiate curves with supreme stability. This car feels incredibly steady, even when accelerating during turns, and boy it can accelerate! A push of the pedal and the car will pin you to your seat in an almost startling experience. It’s exhilarating.
In raw numbers, the Air can hit 60mph in 2.5 seconds (competing with the best Model S performance), thanks to the 1000 horsepower setup (600hp up front, 400hp in the back), with a range of up to 400 miles. Detailed about the car’s self-driving capabilities are scarce, but Lucid Motors says all the sensors required to achieve Level 5 autonomy are already on the car.
You’ve probably realized already that the Air is not meant to be a reasonably priced car. We’re talking of a price tag of around $100,000, though fully-optioned models could hit 30 percent higher. There will eventually be cheaper version as well, said Lucid, though don’t expect anything under $60,000.
After our brief time with the Lucid Air we were definitely impressed by what a small company (300 employees) managed to create over the past years. We loved the enthusiasm of the team and the fact that Lucid took its time to develop the Air before unveiling it to the world – the complete opposite of what some other manufacturers have been doing. Sure, there are still massive obstacles to overcome until early 2019, when Lucid wants to start delivering the Air to the first customers. But the future seems bright.