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Lucid Motors Raises the Bar for EV Range With 517 Miles on a Single Charge for its Air Sedan

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【Summary】Luxury electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors can now claim the longest range for a production vehicle using an EPA approved test procedure. The company's first electric vehicle, the ultra-luxurious Lucid Air sedan, achieved an equivalent of 517 miles on a single charge, something that Tesla, or any other automaker, has yet to achieve.

Eric Walz    Aug 11, 2020 6:15 AM PT
Lucid Motors Raises the Bar for EV Range With 517 Miles on a Single Charge for its Air Sedan
The Lucid Air electric sedan

For global automakers building electric vehicles without internal combustion engines, advertising miles per gallon no longer applies. Instead, EVs today are generally judged by the number of miles they can travel on a single charge. The current leader is Tesla, with a WTLP electric range of 402 miles for the latest version of the Model S sedan.

However, luxury electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors can now claim the longest range for an EV using an EPA approved test procedure. The company's first electric vehicle the ultra-luxurious Lucid Air sedan achieved an equivalent of 517 miles on a single charge, something that Tesla, or any other automaker, has yet to achieve.

Lucid says its ultra-luxurious Air sedan is the "world's most advanced electric car" and it will define Lucid as a company.

"Range and efficiency are widely recognized as the most relevant proof points by which EV technical prowess is measured. A few years ago we revealed our alpha prototypes of the Lucid Air and promised over 400 miles range; a reflection of our technology at that time. In the intervening period we have achieved a series of technological breakthroughs, culminating in an unsurpassed degree of energy efficiency," said Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO of Lucid Motors

The batteries for the Lucid Air are being supplied by South Korean battery maker LG Chem. Lucid said it chose LG Chem due to the company's advanced battery technology.

The 517 Mile Range Was Calculated Using the EPA's Multicycle Test Procedure for EVs

The new benchmark range tests were performed by FEV North America in Auburn Hills, Michigan. FEV North America is the U.S. subsidiary of German company FEV Europe.

The company  is a leading independent, engineering service provider of vehicle and powertrain development for hardware and software, which also includes EV range certification. The company is also a leading tester of automotive batteries worldwide. 

FEV applied the EPA's Multicycle Test Procedure (SAE J1634) with the standard adjustment factor that's used by the EPA for determining the fuel economy listed on the window stickers of all vehicles sold in the U.S. 

The same EPA test procedure has been used by several major automakers. 

EPA's test procedure includes dynamometer testing to measure the energy consumption and driving range of an electric vehicle. The recommended practice is that the battery is fully charged, the vehicle is parked overnight, and then the following day the vehicle is driven on a dynamometer that mimics varied city driving conditions until the EV's battery becomes discharged. 

After the testing is completed, the battery is then recharged from a normal AC source using the manufacturer's charger for that vehicle. The energy consumption of the city and highway cycles (in kW-hr/mile or kW-hr/100 miles) are then determined using a mathematical formula from the recharging energy, DC discharge data and distance for each cycle. 

Lucid Motors also said it conducted thousands of miles of its own real-world range testing and the FEV's results match that of Lucid's. The company said that a decade of battery pack development has led to best-in-class energy density for an electric car. 

Lucid also said that the FEV range estimate closely matches its own computer-modeled range prediction. Lucid claims the longer range is a result of its proprietary powertrain technology combined with careful engineering of every aspect of the Lucid Air's efficiency, including aerodynamics.

Lucid miniaturized and integrated the Air's electric motors, transmission and power inverter into a single component. It's paired with an ultra-high, 900+ volt vehicle architecture to achieve unmatched efficiency the company said.

"I believe that our 900-volt architecture, our race proven battery packs, miniaturized motors and power electronics, integrated transmission systems, aerodynamics, chassis and thermal systems, software, and overall system efficiency has now reached a stage where it collectively sets a new standard and delivers a host of world's firsts,"  said Rawlinson. 

Most EVs today, including Tesla's vehicles, are built with 400 volt system architectures, while the Porsche Taycan uses a 800 volt system. The higher voltages provide additional power, just like a bigger engine in a conventional vehicle provides greater power and torque than a smaller engine.

The Lucid AIr is Also the World's Most Aerodynamic EV

Lucid said it devoted as much attention to aerodynamic efficiency as it did for the Air's advanced electric powertrain, which was developed entirely in-house.

The California electric automaker also achieved a new benchmark in aerodynamic efficiency this year. The Lucid Air underwent testing at North Carolina's Windshear automotive wind tunnel in June and the automaker verified a coefficient of drag (Cd) of just 0.21, making the Air the world's most aero-efficient luxury car, which helps contribute to its unprecedented range.

Windshear's facility in Concord, North Carolina 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.

Newark, California-based Lucid Motors traces its roots back to Tesla. Rawlinson worked under Elon Musk at Tesla, as was Chief designer for the Model S. In 2013, he left the company and set out to build a more advanced electric car than the Model S, which resulted in the founding of Lucid Motors.

Last summer, Lucid hired Peter Hochholdinger as vice president of vehicle manufacturing. Hochholdinger will lead Lucid's global manufacturing operations and manufacturing engineering. Prior to joining Lucid, Hochholdinger worked at Tesla overseeing the production of the Model 3. 

The production version of the Lucid Air will debut in an online reveal on September 9, 2020. In addition to the vehicle's final interior and exterior designs, new details about production specifications, available configurations, and pricing information will also be shared. 

The Lucid Air will be produced at the automaker's new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona. Production is expected to begin in early 2021.

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