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The Lucid Motors Air Sedan's 900-Volt Architecture Allows for Rapid Charging, Adding 300 Miles of Range in Just 20 Minutes

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【Summary】Today, electric automaker Lucid Motors announced that its upcoming Air sedan will be the quickest charging electric vehicle, with the capability to charge at rates that will add up to 20 miles per minute. This translates into 300 miles of driving range with just a 20 minute charge in real-world conditions, the company said.

Eric Walz    Aug 19, 2020 11:15 AM PT
The Lucid Motors Air Sedan's 900-Volt Architecture Allows for Rapid Charging, Adding 300 Miles of Range in Just 20 Minutes

Just over a week ago, luxury electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors announced that its upcoming Air sedan has claimed the longest range for an EV using an EPA approved test procedure. The Air sedan achieved an equivalent of 517 miles on a single charge, something that Tesla, or any other automaker, has yet to achieve for a battery-powered vehicle.

Today, Lucid Motors announced that the Air will also be the quickest charging electric vehicle, with the capability to charge at rates that will add up to 20 miles per minute. This translates into 300 miles of driving range with just 20 minutes of charging in real-world conditions, the company said.  

Lucid credited the Air's ultra-high 900-volt system architecture for the rapid charging capability.  When the 900-volt system is combined with the Air's efficient electric powertrain, advanced lithium-ion battery cells and thermal management system it contributes to the Air's rapid charging, the company said. The Air sedan accepts a peak charging rate of over 300kW.

Most EVs today, including Tesla vehicles, use a 400-volt vehicle architecture. The Porsche Taycan EV uses a 800-volt system.   

The upcoming Air will come with a 19.2kW AC onboard charger that can support AC charging speeds that deliver up to 80 miles of range per hour. The Air will also support multiple charging rates, including AC Levels 1 and 2, up to the most powerful Level 3 DC fast charging, utilizing the universal CCS connector standard for fast charging at any public EV charging network.

The Air's charging port will support full bi-directionality for advanced Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) capabilities built-in for future enablement of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) features, Lucid Motors said.

To facilitate the Air's rapid charging capability, Lucid Motors developed its own onboard charging unit called the "Wunderbox." 

Lucid's Wunderbox onboard charging unit combines several functionalities which are normally separated into a single housing. This design gives Lucid Air full interoperability with public charging infrastructure, including the latest, higher-powered 350kW fast-charging infrastructure being built-out nationwide. 

"We designed every aspect of the Lucid Air and its platform in-house to be hyper-efficient, from the powertrain to the aerodynamics, and we've set several new benchmarks through these efforts including the longest range EV with an estimated EPA range of 517 miles," said Eric Bach, Vice President of Hardware Engineering, Lucid Motors.

lucid_air_prototype_4k-HD.jpg

The production version of the Lucid Air sedan will be revealed on Sept 9. 

On-the-Road Charging 

The Air sedan was designed to Combined Charging System (CCS) standards and is compatible with any DC fast charging station. In addition, the Lucid Air can automatically boost the charging voltage when needed to charge at the fastest available rate at any location. 

For the rapid charging, Lucid Motors partnered with Virginia-based EV charging infrastructure operator Electrify America to give its customers convenient access to charging throughout the U.S.

Lucid Air buyers will get three years of complimentary EV charging at speeds faster than any other production car available today, the company said.

Electrify America is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America. The company is investing $2 billion over 10 years in Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure, education and access in the U.S. This initiative includes a nationwide network of ultra-fast 150kW through 350kW charging stations.  

By the end of next year, Electrify America expects to install or have under development approximately 800 total charging station sites with 3,500 chargers in 29 metro areas across 45 states, including two cross-country routes, so Lucid Air drivers will always have a convenient place to charge. 

Lucid owners will be able to easily locate and see real-time availability of Electrify America charge locations across the U.S., as well as navigate to the locations using the Air's built-in navigation system.

In addition to the standard Lucid Mobile Charging Cord that will come with every Lucid vehicle, the company has also developed the "Lucid Connected Home Charging Station", one of the first AC charging stations with bi-directional charging ever offered. 

With bi-directional charging, owners can use their Lucid Air as a temporary energy reserve to power their homes, including off-grid vacation properties. Lucid has developed an integrated partnership with EV charging infrastructure installer Qmerit for installation of the Lucid Connected Home Charging Station. 

Like Tesla's Powerwall energy storage devices, Lucid is also developing its own stationary Energy Storage Systems (ESS) using its in-house battery and software technology. It's a way for Lucid to create a sustainable lifecycle for repurposing Lucid Air batteries, the company said.

The first ESS prototype is already installed at Lucid's Silicon Valley HQ where the automaker's engineering team is already developing a range of ESS products.

Lucid's Air sedan is designed to be one of the world's most advanced EVs. The company's CEO and CTO Perter Rawlinson, once worked at Tesla under Elon Musk, serving as chief designer of the Tesla Model S. Rawlinson joined Lucid a year after the Model S launched and set out to build a better, more powerful and luxurious electric sedan with a much more advanced powertrain.

The state-of-the-art Air sedan features what Lucid calls a "California-inspired design" combined with cutting-edge technology. The Air can go from 0 to 60 mph in under 2.5 seconds with its 1,000 horsepower electric powertrain.

In Sept, 2018 Lucid Motors announced $1 billion in funding from Saudi Arabia's PIF fund, which is being used for the development and commercial launch of the Air sedan.

The Air sedan will be built at Lucid's factory in Arizona, which is currently under construction. In July 2019, Lucid Motors hired former Tesla VP of manufacturing Peter Hochholdinger to serve as its vice president of vehicle manufacturing. Hochholdinger will lead Lucid's global manufacturing operations at the Arizona factory.

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

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