Lucid Motors is one of the most exciting automotive startups since Tesla, and the big claims continue rolling in ahead of its first production car – the Air – hitting the market. We already know the base model will be cheaper than the base Tesla Model S, but a recent chat with the company has shed light on the crazy performance you can expect from its range-topping cars.
The performance potential on offer from electric cars is clear: the Tesla Model S P100D will hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than three seconds, putting it on pace with exotic hypercars, while offering seating for five and room for all their luggage. In an attempt to one up the Ludicrous best from Elon Musk, you can expect the flagship Air to hit 60 mph (98 km/h) in 2.5 seconds on its way to a top speed beyond 200 mph (322 km/h). In testing, the company has apparently seen 217 mph (349 km/h).
"It was actually software limited, as we were evaluating aero and powertrain cooling," David Salguero, Marketing Manager for Lucid Motors, told New Atlas. "The car will go faster, but we have yet to settle on a top speed. In any event, it will be a 200 mph+ car."
Performance isn't the only area where Lucid is gunning for Tesla. Whereas the largest battery pack on offer in the Model S is 100 kWh, the Air will be offered with 65, 100 or 130 kWh options, delivering a maximum range of 400 miles (644 km). According to the company, battery cell tech is where it got its start, and the Air will benefit from all its past experience.
"Lucid has actually been around for nearly 10 years," says Salguero. "Previously named Atieva, we developed battery packs for applications in several types of vehicles. Those packs have logged over 20 million real-world miles to date. So we have a great deal of experience in EV batteries.
"At the pack level, we have developed innovative packaging and cooling solutions to pack more cells in a small area while maintaining reliability. At the cell level, we have worked together with Samsung SDI to develop a cell chemistry that is far more tolerant of repeated fast-charging than the chemistries found in existing EVs. This means the Air will be able to fast charge repeatedly with minimal loss of battery capacity, which is important for owners using these vehicles in fleet applications."
Most automotive nerds will, at one point or another, have seen an image of the Tesla skateboard chassis. Lucid Motors will be taking a slightly different approach, running with a battery design that varies in depth along the length of the car. Although more complex than a single slab, the company says this allows it to maximize interior space.
"Unlike other vehicles on the market, the Air does not use a single, monolithic battery slab," Salguero told New Atlas. "Our battery is located at the bottom of the car, but has been sculpted to maximize interior space. This means there are areas where the battery is a single stack, some areas where modules are double stacked, and some areas where there are no modules to improve legroom."
All of this sounds impressive, but the car still has to actually make it to market. Lucid's goal is to put the Air into production first, although there may be a broader model range on the horizon.
"We are currently raising our Series D funding round," says Salguero. "Vehicle development continues during this process. Once we have concluded the funding round, we will break ground on our factory in Casa Grande Arizona and begin work on our Beta fleet of engineering prototypes. Production will begin in 2019 with deliveries starting shortly after. In the first 12 months of production, we intend to produce 10,000 vehicles."
"We are looking at future models, but at the moment our we are laser-focused on getting the Lucid Air into production."
We very much look forward to getting behind the wheel.
Scott Collie and Angus MacKenzie
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