Tesla dominates the luxury electric vehicle space, but whereas the US-based firm's still ahead of German premium brands in terms of technology and packaging, it might now have a very credible rival from much closer to home. With a clean design and massive power, the Lucid Air is a possible Tesla-killer.
Lucid is similar to Tesla in many ways: it is based in California and has no internal combustion automotive design legacy. That allows the firm to apply blue-sky thinking to solving the problem of a luxury electric vehicle. And, after years of prototypes and teasing, Lucid has now finally revealed its Air luxury sedan, which has a deeply impressive specification.
Powering the Air is a 113-kWh battery pack, which has a larger capacity than Tesla’s most potent energy systems. In terms of range, Lucid is making very bold claims for its Air. On a mixed driving cycle, they estimate it will do 832km before requiring a recharge, besting all battery-powered rivals and embarrassing most petrol-powered limousines.
An interesting aspect of the Air is its 924-volt electrical architecture, which allows for enormous energy transfer; it should be possible to replenish 480 km's worth of driving range in only 20 minutes.
Lucid’s CEO is clearly not intimated by Tesla’s reputation; Peter Rawlinson claims the company’s independently developed technologies are superior, including the integration of an inverter, transmission and electric motor, in one unit. Lucid uses smaller motors than Tesla, which are 17% more efficient, allowing for better interior packaging, more passenger- as well as luggage space.
There is also no question about the Lucid Air’s performance. Two output grades will be available, with even the milder version good for 462 kW, whilst the higher-output Air generates 596 kW. Lucid will even produce a Dream Edition version, with a mammoth 805 kW of peak power, delivering a luxury battery limousine capable of sprinting from 0 to 100 kph in well under 3 seconds.
The market for limousines and luxury sedans is not expanding. True growth is in the luxury SUV and crossover market and like Tesla, management at Lucid has realised this.
Although the Air platform will serve traditional sedan customers first, there is an SUV under development as well, which is where the greatest business potential is, especially for attracting wealthy customers in markets where luxury vehicles with a raised ride height are ideally suited to the less-than-ideal road surfaces and tougher terrain.