Silicon Valley Automaker Lucid Motors Shows off the Ultra-luxurious Air
【Summary】Menlo Park, California based Lucid Motors has recently unveiled its Lucid Air at the New York Auto Show last month. The Air is a sophisticated, ultra luxurious, high-performance vehicle that it hopes will compete with Tesla in the luxury all-electric vehicle category.
By Eric Walz
Menlo Park California based Lucid Motors has recently unveiled the Lucid Air at the New York Auto Show last month. The Air is a sophisticated, ultra luxurious, high-performance vehicle that it hopes will compete with Tesla in the luxury all-electric vehicle category. In December of 2016, Peter Rawlinson, stated "We wanted to create an executive-jet experience for the road." The Lucid Air's design fulfills his wishes.
Mr Rawlinson is the chief technology officer of Lucid Motors and he used to work for Tesla. He envisioned an electric car better than the Model S, and formed a company to build it.
The company has attracted a buzz lately in the automotive world after unveiling the Lucid Air at the New York Auto Show. The Air has garnered some of the same interest as Tesla did when they first announced the sleek Model S.
The Air has features typically not found in other cars, including rear seats which can recline 55 degrees. "The auto luxury segment has a dizzying array of sameness" said Derek Jenkins, the company's vice president of design.
The Air features sleek body, with a panoramic windshield that stretches all the way over the heads of front-seat passengers. Like the Tesla Model S, Lucid spreads its battery cells along the floor of the body, opening up space in what is usually the engine compartment and the interior. There's a model aimed at business executives with reclining rear seats, inspired by corporate jets.
A look at the Lucid Air's luxurious interior, inspired by corporate jets
Dual Electric Motor 1,000hp Option
A dual motor, all wheel drive option will be available which Lucid states will produce 1,000 hp, Making the 100% electric Lucid Air is one of the world's most powerful automobiles. The base model of the Air is rear wheel drive and is configured with a single electric motor which produces an impressive 400 hp with a 240 mile range. Lucid confirmed that the base model with start at $52,500, about $10,000 less than the Tesla S 60 at the time of this writing.
Car is Autonomous Ready
According to Lucid, every model including the base model of the Air, will be sold as autonomous ready, with all of the necessary sensors factory installed for level 4 autonomy. Level 4 autonomy is considered "fully autonomous".
According to the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy released by the NHTSA in September of 2016, level 4 vehicles are defined as that are "designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip." However, it's important to note that this is limited to the "operational design domain (ODD)" of the vehicle—meaning it does not cover every driving scenario. Additional software updates provided by Lucid are capable of upgrading the autonomous systems as the software is improved.
The Lucid Air High-Tech Interior
Perhaps the most appealing feature of the Air for passengers is Lucid's luxurious, business jet-style interior. Despite its modest exterior size, the Lucid Air has more interior space than a stretch version of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the Air's rear seats are can recline up to 55 degrees. The cabin is filled with many high-tech features, including a laptop sized touchscreen to control most vehicle functions. Other standard features on the base model include twelve-way power front seats,10 advanced airbags, 4 displays with three being touchscreen, 19-inch wheels, a 10-speaker premium audio system.
View of of the Lucid Air interior
Upgraded options include up to a 1,000-horsepower, all wheel drive, twin-motor configuration with fully active suspension, a glass-canopy roof, 22-way power front seats with heating, ventilation, and massage functions, a 29 speaker premium audio system with active noise cancellation, and 21-inch, Lucid-designed wheels. There is also a special edition model for Lucid's first customers.
Lucid Air's panoramic glass canopy roof
A special "Launch Edition" will be reserved for the first 255 and customers of the Lucid Air. The limited Launch Edition cars will also have unique colors and badging, making them truly unique. Prices are reported to be around $160,000 for this model.
According to the company, The Lucid Air will start production in the first half of 2019 with initial deliveries taking place shortly thereafter. Lucid intends to produce 10,000 units within the first twelve months. By 2022, Lucid hopes to scale up to produce up to 60,000 units. Groundbreaking on the new facility is expected sometime in 2017.
Lucid Motors Seeking Financing
Lucid Motors is currently engaged in a Series D financing round to fund its $700 million electric car production facility in Arizona. The first phase, expected to cost $240 million, is claimed to enable low-volume production of up to 10,000 vehicles annually. If Lucid can secure the necessary financing to build the Air, they plan to begin delivering cars by the end of 2019, just eighteen months from now.
Lucid Motors have announced strategic partnerships with Samsung SDI and LG Chem to develop high performance batteries for their electric vehicles. However, Lucid have not yet announced which cells will be used in the production vehicles as battery development is ongoing. Lucid has secured additional investments from Venrock (USA), Mitsui (Japan), and Tsing Capital (China) as well as others.
Real World Testing
Lucid Motors has recently completed a successful high-speed run with its all-electric Air sedan.
The startup recently customized one of its prototypes for the high-performance trials. For safety, Lucid installed a racecar roll cage to evaluate at-the-limit driving characteristics.
The test was performed at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio, where its top speed easily reached 217 mph (350 km/h), on a 7.5-mile oval test track. This is maximum allowable speed which is limited by the vehicle's software.
"Real-world tests are an important part of the engineering process, allowing the team to correlate computer simulation models with real-world performance," Lucid says. "The collected data will now be used to finesse thermal and aero computer simulations and to make further performance improvements that will be tested later this year at higher speeds."
Like other prospective automakers, Lucid's biggest challenge is likely fundraising rather than engineering or testing. The company recently said it is still working to raise the $700 million it needs to build its proposed production facility in Arizona to build the Air.
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric 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. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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