The Electric Lucid Air Sedan Reaches 235 mph in Latest Testing
【Summary】At the Transportation Research Center (TRC) facility in Ohio, The Lucid Air Alpha prototype vehicle reached speeds of 235 mph, topping the previous speeds of 217 mph.
Silicon Valley based Lucid Motors has been keeping a relatively low profile since revealing the Lucid Air all electric sedan at the New York Auto Show back in April. That same month, the company announced that its Air Alpha Speed Car reached speeds of 217 mph on a test track in Ohio. Lucid has returned to the same site for the next round of testing, at even higher speeds. Lucid shared their results in a recent blog post.
At the Transportation Research Center (TRC) facility in Ohio, the car completed a series of tests, including a set of tire tests. Lucid also tackled the high-speed oval again, this time with the software speed limit removed, so that the Lucid team could evaluate performance at even higher speeds, up to 235 mph.
Learning from the First Test
The Lucid Air Alpha prototype was fitted with a roll cage in preparation for the high-speed tests intended to explore the limits of the platform and uncover any behaviors that may not be discovered in lab testing.
The prototype, dubbed the Lucid Air Alpha Speed Car, was first tested in April 2017. For additional safety during the first high-speed tests, the car was given aerodynamic aids and a parachute to slow the car abruptly in case the straights did not prove long enough to reach desired speeds and slow down sufficiently for the next turn. For this first test, the top speed was software limited to 217 mph (350 km/h).
According to Lucid, the first test exceeded their expectations and the car performed wonderfully. The test driver exited the banked oval at over 200 mph. The car then hit the speed limiter less than a quarter of the way down the straightaway, leaving plenty of space to slow down without the use of the parachute.
Opportunities for Improvement
Lucid also found opportunities for improvement. For example, the car's self-leveling air suspension was not able to adjust quickly enough when running near 200 mph on a high-banked track, with heavy downforce pushing the car laterally against the track. Engineers also found the front motor was running at temperatures higher than had been predicted in computer simulations.
Before heading back out for a second test, the Lucid team made a few adjustments based on what they've learned. The air suspension required a software update to improve responsiveness when loaded heavily. The front motor required updates to coolant flow and ventilation. New, aerodynamically efficient wheels were fitted and Lucid removed the speed limiter to see what a Lucid Air alpha prototype was capable of achieving.
At the track, it was clear to the spotters standing hundreds of meters away that the car was moving faster coming off the banking than during the last test, and they were right. The Air came off the banking at 215 mph and reached an ultimate GPS confirmed speed of 235.44 mph.
Lucid stated that the Alpha prototype performed beautifully. The car was perfectly stable in corners and on the straight, which is illustrated by the driver's slow and steady inputs that can be seen in the accompanying video. The software update to the air suspension performed as expected and responded appropriately during cornering. The thermal levels of the powertrain, including the front motor, stayed within specification throughout the run.
Although reaching 235 mph is an impressive feat for the Alpha Speed Car, or any other all-electric car, it is not the final production top speed for the Lucid Air. What it does represent, according to Lucid's most recent blog post, is further proof that the Lucid Air is a vehicle without compromise, one that offers incredible performance and dynamics, yet still offers remarkable space and comfort for a sublime luxury experience.
Lucid has not released details about when the electric Lucid Air sedan will be available.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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