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Lucid Motors Shares New Details of the Air Sedan's Advanced Electric Powertrain Ahead of its Sept 9 Reveal

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【Summary】The Lucid Motors Air is designed to be one of the world’s most advanced electric vehicles, offering a range of over 500 miles. That long range is made possible by a highly efficient electric powertrain and battery that Lucid designed entirely in house. It’s designed to be the smallest yet most efficient battery-powered propulsion system.

Eric Walz    Sep 02, 2020 6:30 AM PT
Lucid Motors Shares New Details of the Air Sedan's Advanced Electric Powertrain Ahead of its Sept 9 Reveal
The Lucid Motors Air sedan

Luxury electric vehicles startup and Tesla challenger Lucid Motors is set to reveal its ultra-luxury high performance Air sedan next week in an online event. Leading up to the world premier, the company shared a detailed look at the battery pack and powertrain designs of the Lucid Air for the first time.

The Lucid Motors Air is designed to be one of the world's most advanced electric vehicles, offering a range of over 500 miles.

That long range is made possible by a highly efficient electric powertrain and battery that Lucid designed entirely in house. It's designed to be the smallest yet most efficient battery-powered propulsion system and its been designed for maximum efficiency, right down to the smallest details.

Lucid even designed a new motor winding technology to maximize power output and reduce electrical losses. The motor also features an innovative cooling system that more effectively removes heat from the stator winding, minimizing losses and boosting efficiency.

"This is what happens with in-house technology," said Peter Rawlingson, CEO and CTO of Lucid Motors, referring to the advanced technology of the Lucid Air's electric powertrain.

The entire electric drive unit in the Air, which includes the motor itself, transmission and high-voltage inverter, is integrated into a single "miniaturized" housing weighing just 74 kilograms (163 lbs). The drive unit is small enough to fit small enough to fit inside a standard airline carry-on roller bag, Lucid says. 

However the small package packs a punch, producing up to 670 horsepower with 2,950 lb ft of output torque. Lucid said it the first time an electric motor, inverter and transmission were combined together in a single compact housing. 

Up to three of the electric drive units can be combined for the front and rear wheels of the Air, making it one of the world's most powerful EVs. The Air can cover a quarter mile in just under 10 seconds.

"Our watchword has been "focus" since day one at Lucid – a focus on sound engineering principles, a focus on creating efficiencies, and a focus on maximizing power to create a world-class EV," said Rawlinson.

Lucid also designed a high voltage, silicon-carbide MOSFET system in its inverters to maximize efficiency, especially in real-world driving conditions, the company said.

In total, Lucid's in house designed drive units are 45 percent lighter and up to 59 percent more powerful than the closest competitor and 2.5 times smaller than the one used in the Tesla Model S.

Lucid's electric motor assembly is also 17% more efficient than Tesla's, according to data the company compiled. This means that Lucid can build a more affordable 300 mile range EV using a 17% smaller battery pack at a 17% cost savings. The result would be an EV that weighs less, which helps to increase range. 

"No one else has anything close to this," said Rawlinson. "We want to be able to make these (powertrains) by the millions, we want to change the world."

Lucid is the sole battery supplier to Formula E racing, so some of that race-proven battery technology will be carried over to the Air sedan. Atieva, Lucid's technology division, designed and built the battery packs for the entire field of entries in the Formula E racing series since 2018.

The compact battery pack of the Air is positioned low in the cabin floor, which maximizes passenger comfort and provides a surprisingly large amount of storage space, including the largest "frunk" (front trunk) ever offered on an electric car, Lucid says. The battery in the air consists of up to 14 individual modules depending on the configuration.  

The Air sedan's batteries will be supplied by South Korean battery maker LG Chem, also a supplier to U.S. automaker General Motors. 

The electric powertrain is designed to operate at 900 volts, more than double that of most EVs, including the 375 volt Tesla Model S Performance and 800 volt Porsche Taycan. The 900 volt architecture combined with advanced batteries allows for rapid charging in addition to delivering more power. 

Lucid said Air owners can add 20 miles of range per minute and 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes.

"This is the best battery technology in the world," Rawlinson said. 

The Air is also one of the world's most aerodynamic vehicles which contributes to its extra long range.

In June, Lucid announced that the Air achieved a new benchmark in aerodynamic efficiency. The Air underwent testing at North Carolina's Windshear automotive wind tunnel where Lucid's engineering team 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.

A lower Cd translates into a quieter cabin with less wind noise and is typically associated with luxury cars. The front of the Air sedan incorporates an air damping system that directs air around the front of the vehicle and into the front wheel housings. Even the headlamp electronics are air-cooled. 

Rawlingson himself is a former Tesla employee, the company that will likely be Lucid's biggest competitor. He worked under Elon Musk as a Tesla VP and served as Chief designer of the Model S, so Rawlingson is familiar with Tesla's technology. With his experience in developing electric powertrains, Rawilson serves dual roles as both CEO and CTO of Lucid Motors. 

After Rawlingson left Tesla, he joined Lucid Motors with a mission to build the world's most advanced electric powertrain. Lucid was founded in 2007 under the name Atieva and originally focused on building electric vehicle batteries and powertrains for other vehicle manufacturers.

In 2016, the company changed its name to Lucid Motors and announced its intent to develop a high-performance luxury electric vehicle, which resulted in the Lucid Air. With significant funding, Lucid Motors was able to make that happen.

Lucid Motors set up shop right in Tesla's backyard. The company's Newark, CA headquarters is just about 12 miles away from Tesla's Fremont California factory, where all of Tesla's U.S. models are built.

"When the Lucid Air comes to market next spring, the world will see that we have developed the best electric vehicle technology possible by a wide margin and effectively created a new benchmark for EVs. The result is nothing short of a technological tour de force in every facet upon which a luxury performance car is measured," said Rawilnson.

Lucid's will build the Air at its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona. Construction began late last year. Lucid says the factory will be able to produce 34,000 vehicles a year when it opens and will scale up from there. The company is targeting a Spring 2021 production start for the Air.

To sell the Air, Lucid is opting for a direct to consumer model, just like Tesla. The company is building a network of 20 design showrooms and service centers in the U.S. Most of these locations will be in major cities, such as Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington DC. The new Lucid Studios will support what the company calls its "direct to customer sales strategy." 

The spaces will serve as in-person design centers, where customers can go to see the Lucid Air sedan up close and select from the various vehicle options, as well as place their order. Among the Lucid Studio locations are a Silicon Valley Studio at the Lucid Motors Global Headquarters in Newark, California.

The Lucid Air's debut on Sept 9 comes as Tesla's stock is at an all time high, igniting strong interest in electric vehicles as a viable alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles.

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