Is it a Tesla killer? Is it made by another quirky startup with an equally eccentric leader? Will there be more slightly annoying fans who swear it’s the greatest car to ever grace the surface of the Earth? These were all questions racing through my mind when I began to analyze the new Lucid Air. At first glance there seem to be many indicators that Lucid Motors is another in a long line of American electric car start-ups continually operating on thin ice with the hope that it can cash in on the electric car craze. Now, while that notion isn’t completely false, there still is quite a bit to differentiate Lucid from the pack and also suggest that it’s a legit brand with ambitions of becoming a household name. So here’s what I think Lucid Motors is doing right and wrong with its newest and first production model: the Air.
First, some information about Lucid Motors as a company. It was founded back in 2007 by Bernard Tse and Sam Weng and is currently headquartered out of Newark, California. Peter Rawlinson, the company’s CEO and CTO, is the man who really makes the metaphoric and literal wheels turn at Lucid Motors. Rawlinson was the principal engineer at Jaguar as well as the chief engineer at Lotus before joining Tesla in 2009. He was the man charged with developing the now blockbuster Model S. Rawlinson himself has admitted that with the Air he is trying to improve upon what he built with the Model S, so right away we get a good idea of what Lucid’s ambitions are.
When Rawlinson first joined Tesla, the shell of the Model S was already designed and it was his job to take care of the internals of the car. He believes that this approach somewhat compromised his ability to develop proper powertrain technology. Now with Lucid, however, the name of the game has become electric powertrain miniaturization. The focus has become on making battery technology as efficient as possible, that way it opens the door for other design aspects of the car to be improved accordingly. Rawlinson quite cleverly denotes that to break rules you must first master them, so to adhere to this adage he has tried to ensure that Lucid keeps its powertrain development in-house. Lucid’s journey to producing the Air has been a long and fraught battle. Rawlinson and his team have undergone multiple rounds of investment, constantly worked on the fringe, and developed like hell in the engineering offices to ensure that the Air could truly outpace its competitors in the booming EV market. Now the company will finally start deliveries by the end of 2021, so I suppose it’s time we take a look at what they have to offer.
The Lucid Air will come in four trims: the Pure, Touring, Grand Touring, and Dream Edition. The Pure is the most basic trim while the Dream Edition, as you probably guessed from the name, is all of the best that Lucid has to offer. The Pure comes with a single motor RWD configuration while the rest of the trims come in AWD. The Dream Edition produces a whopping 1080 hp, the Grand Touring produces 800 hp, the Touring produces 620 hp, and finally the Pure produces a mere 480 hp. Now you might be wondering why Lucid is manufacturing a family sedan that produces more horsepower than the original Bugatti Veyron, and honestly I was wondering that too. However, I then learned that Lucid is the official battery supplier for the FIA Formula E championship (an open wheel single-seater electric racing series). So even though Lucid is still a relative newcomer they have already earned some sporting credentials and applied them on the Air. The top of the line Dream Edition will smash the 0-100 km/h sprint in 2.7 seconds, have an estimated range of 507 miles, and come equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving. The only issue? It starts at $161,500. That might sound like reason to panic but don’t worry, there are more sensible options with the Air. In my opinion, the Air Touring is the best compromise of the trim levels at $87,500. You still get 620 hp (more than a Porsche Taycan), a projected range of 407 miles, and a dual motor AWD configuration.
To be quite honest, as the automotive public we still don’t really know that much about Lucid and what we should truly be expecting from them. Tesla didn’t necessarily hit it out of the park with their first car, so is it reasonable to expect the same from Lucid? While Lucid Motors is on the home stretch, we still have no idea what type of hurdles the company might face and how long it might take for them to overcome any production issues.
I will freely admit that I have much more to learn about Lucid as a company before I start passing relentless judgement via the internet, but there is one legitimate issue I have with Lucid. As ever, it relates to the struggle between car enthusiasts and the rational consumer. In a removed and impartial sense, I understand that Lucid Motors as a company has to create a car that does a little bit of everything because that’s what the modern day car buyer wants. However, as a car enthusiast, my biggest qualm with electric cars is that they homogenize all cars into one character. Most electric cars that I’ve driven have all felt exactly the same, and as an enthusiast that just crushes my soul. A Ferrari, Corvette, or Porsche all have wildly different identities, and that’s exactly how it should be. There’s something for everyone, and we can all have a grand time arguing why our choice is the best.
I feel that Lucid really could’ve played into the luxury aspect of their brand, and tried to become the Rolls Royce or Bentley of the electric car world. I would love for them to find a niche, and do very well in that particular niche, because then we could finally get some diversity in the world of EVs. We don’t need another Tesla. I understand the desire to try and oust them, but I really wish all that energy could instead go into a project where a truly unique car is made. This is no slight to Lucid Motors who has certainly worked hard to try and do it all, but as a car enthusiast, I think I speak for everyone when I say we want an electric car with a truly distinguishable personality. As for the Air, only time will tell how it shapes up in the real world, but what I’m more interested to see is how Lucid might reinvent or reenergize the emotional component of owning an automobile.
“Configurator”. Lucidmotors.Com, 2021, https://www.lucidmotors.com/air/configure/?compare=1. Accessed 19 July 2021.
“Lucid Air – Wikipedia”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucid_Air. Accessed 19 July 2021.
“The Lucid Air Is Nearing The Finish Line”. The Verge, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/22547202/lucid-motors-air-electric-vehicle-hands-on-test-drive. Accessed 19 July 2021.
“2021 Lucid Air: What We Know So Far”. Car And Driver, 2020, https://www.caranddriver.com/lucid-motors/air. Accessed 19 July 2021.
Reynolds, K., 2020. From Model S To Lucid Air: A Conversation With Peter Rawlinson of Lucid Motors. [online] MotorTrend. Available at: <https://www.motortrend.com/news/peter-rawlinson-lucid-motors-interview/> [Accessed 19 July 2021].