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The Lucid Motors Air Sedan Will Be One of the Most Aerodynamic Vehicles Ever Made

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【Summary】The California electric automaker Lucid Motors announced that it has achieved a new benchmark in aerodynamic efficiency for its upcoming electric sedan. The Lucid Air underwent testing at North Carolina’s Windshear automotive wind tunnel and achieved a verified a coefficient of drag (Cd) of just 0.21, making the Air the world's most aero-efficient luxury cars.

Derrick Smith    Jun 30, 2020 10:00 AM PT
The Lucid Motors Air Sedan Will Be One of the Most Aerodynamic Vehicles Ever Made

For the past several years, electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors has been actively developing its first electric vehicle, the flagship Lucid Air sedan.  The Air will have one of the most advanced electric powertrains in the industry says Lucid, but it will also have a sleek exterior with one of the lowest coefficients of drag of any automaker, including its biggest competitor Tesla. 

The California electric automaker today announced that it has achieved a new benchmark in aerodynamic efficiency. The Lucid Air underwent testing at North Carolina's Windshear automotive wind tunnel and the automaker verified a coefficient of drag (Cd) of just 0.21, making the Lucid Air the world's most aero-efficient luxury car, according to Lucid. 

The aerodynamic drag coefficient is a measure of how well a vehicle can reduce air resistance. A lower number translates into a quieter cabin with less wind noise and is typically associated with luxury cars. 

For an electric vehicle, a lower drag coefficient can increase overall range by reducing air resistance. The Air sedan tops 400 miles of range per charge in real-world driving, according to Lucid, and its aerodynamic exterior helps in achieving this.

Boxy trucks and buses have a much higher drag coefficient, so there is a high level of air resistance when the vehicle is moving. Trucks can have a Cd as high as 0.45. A sedan typically measures a Cd of 0.22–0.4. The popular Tesla Model S achieved a Cd of 0.24 in 2014, which at the time was among the auto industry's lowest. In 2017, the Model 3 achieved an even better Cd of 0.23.

"Aerodynamic efficiency plays a key role in achieving world-beating range and performance, and is particularly valuable to an EV in that it provides "smart range" independent of battery pack size," said Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO, Lucid Motors. "Our aero team worked seamlessly with design and engineering counterparts, establishing aero efficiency as a core tenet of Lucid Air from its very inception, enabling us to achieve this new standard."

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The production version of the Lucid Air will be unveiled in September.

Lucid said it devoted as much attention to aerodynamic efficiency as it did for the Air's advanced electric powertrain. The Lucid aerodynamics team has experience in the world of motorsports, including winning Formula One World Championships. They brought this knowledge and experience to Lucid for the design of the Air's aerodynamic exterior.

"Key to our development process was creating Lucid's own meticulous aerodynamic design philosophy for electric vehicles honed from years of success in Formula One," said Jean-Charles Monnet, Lead Aerodynamicist, Lucid Motors. "We applied lessons learned from shaping the world's highest performance racing machines as integral to the Lucid Air's design process."

The Lucid Air was designed with surfaces and details that work together to guide air efficiently through and around the car. 

Lucid's engineers added side air intakes in the front fascia that smooth airflow around the wheel wells where turbulence occurs, while vents in the hood that channel air smoothly around the sides of the car. This wheel well turbulence is one of the reasons that electric automaker Tesla developed its innovative Aero Wheels for the Model 3. 

Behind the front bumper, the Lucid Air features a patented vortex-generating air intake system. This system maximizes cooling performance by uniformly distributing air to further increasing aerodynamic efficiency.

Windshear's facility in Concord, North Carolina, which is considered one of the most advanced automotive wind tunnels in the world. Windshear's tunnel features a closed-air circuit, temperature-controlled system built around a "rolling road." The rolling road can measure a vehicle's air resistance at speeds up to 180 mph.

"Windshear has tested thousands of vehicles across the full spectrum of consumer and racing use cases, with electric vehicle testing having become a core competency in recent years," said Brian Nelson, Manager, Windshear Inc. "We were impressed with Lucid's attention to detail in maximizing efficiencies and securing this aero milestone."

Lucid also said that the Air's battery pack itself leads to an increase in aerodynamic efficiency. Most vehicles today have flat undersides to reduce air turbulence, inducing the Air. However the flat surface under the car curves progressively upward towards the rear, forming an aerodynamic diffuser, according to Lucid. What's unique with the Air sedan is that the battery pack itself is part of this curved surface. 

In real-world testing, the Lucid Air's aerodynamic efficiency has contributed to Beta prototypes achieving over 400 miles of range on public roads at highway speeds. Before production the Air will undergo additional track testing to ensure high-speed stability and to validate the functionality of all of the Air's aerodynamic systems. 

"When we debut the production version of the Lucid Air in September, the world will see a beautiful design that sets a new benchmark for electric vehicles, and a landmark for cars in general," said Rawlinson.

The production version of the Lucid Air will debut in an online event on September 9, 2020. During the event, Lucid will share new details on production specifications, available configurations, and pricing.

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