AFTER almost 12 months of teasing and hype, American EV brand Lucid has finally launched its Air super-sedan, a Tesla rival that delivers on most of the promises made during its development.
Available Stateside in four different guises and priced from “below $US80,000” ($A109,893), the Air is underpinned by Lucid’s ‘electric advanced platform’ (LEAP) with the top-spec Dream Edition ($US169,000/$A232,173) drawing its power from a 113kWh battery pack stashed under the floor.
In between the two bookmark variants is the $US95,000 ($A130,512) Touring and $139,000 ($A190,989) Grand Touring with the range and or performance stakes being raised by each price point.
With first deliveries expected to start in the northern spring (our autumn) of 2021, Lucid Motors CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson described the Air as “a halo car for the entire industry” made possible by “pushing the boundaries of EV technology and performance”.
“Lucid Motors is driven to make the electric car better, and by doing so, help move the entire industry forward towards accelerated adoption of sustainable mobility,” he said.
“The goal of this relentless approach to developing the world’s most advanced electric vehicle is to benefit all mankind with sustainable, zero-emission transportation, and to also attract new customers to the world of EVs.”
While the base model Air is yet to be detailed, Lucid has divulged some of the key specifications of the rest of the range, with the Touring capable of a 3.2-second dash from 0-97km/h (60mph) with an estimated driving range of up to 653km.
Power is rated at 462kW while the top speed is pegged at 250km/h.
Predictably the Grand Touring ups the ante with 597kW of power on tap, a driving range of up to 832km and a 0-97km/h time of three seconds flat.
In top-spec Dream Edition guise, Lucid claims the Air will dart from 0-97km/h in just 2.5 seconds and push on to an estimated top speed of 270km/h – the same as the Grand Touring and a far cry from the 378km/h quoted during its development.
Power is rated at 805kW in the flagship however the claimed range does drop slightly to 810km.
The secret to this insane performance and range is the Air’s 113kWh battery pack and drag coefficient of 0.21 – the best of any luxury vehicle.
In an added bonus for EV fans, Lucid claims all of the Air range’s batteries – irrespective of size and or capacity – can be charged to provide 482km of range in just 20 minutes, making it the fastest charging EV in the world.
According to Lucid Motors vice president of design Derek Jenkins, the Lucid brand as a whole was created with a “progressive, post-luxury mindset” designed to “meet the rapidly evolving needs of the most progressive buyers”.
“We are heading into a future where conscious consumers see sustainability, advanced design, and technical innovation as equally important to more traditional luxury values of quality and craftsmanship,” he said.
“We consider Lucid to be at the forefront in a shift in consumer preferences toward new brands that offer direct relationships alongside products featuring entirely new levels of technology, performance, and design.”
On the subject of design, it is not hard to see why or how the Air achieved its class-leading drag coefficient with almost every surface being smooth and curvaceous and featuring very few lumps and bumps.
The front end is dominated by a thin chrome strip running along the bonnet line and extending down to encompass what would be a grille on an internal combustion engine car.
Housed within this would-be grille are two sets of five individual headlights while at the bottom of the fascia lays a swooping lower intake.
Two small air channels sit on the front of the wheelarches, bookending the gentle concave sculpting of the front bumper.
The bonnet takes an even smoother approach with the only features being a pair of inset air channels flowing back towards the wing mirrors.
The rest of the body follows a similar theme with a long swooping glasshouse and cabin, a feature afforded by the super-compact nature of the electric powertrain.
Inside the cabin, space has been the number-one priority for designers with the brand claiming the Air to have “a full-size luxury-class interior while maintaining an agile, sport sedan footprint” as well as the biggest ‘frunk’ of any electric car, however an exact capacity has not been quoted.
The driver meanwhile is greeted by a huge floating 34-inch curved digital cockpit while a secondary touchscreen connects the dashboard with the centre console.
Adding to the sense of space is a huge three-panel panoramic sunroof, the first of which traces back from the windscreen being made of a single pane.
The ballistic Dream Edition and Grand Touring variants will be the first grades to hit the North American and European markets – it remains to be seen if the Air makes if Down Under – in the second quarter of next year with the Touring the follow at the end of the year, while the base model will launch in 2022.