Automotive

Video: Lucid hits 235 mph in electric sedan prototype

Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
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Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
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Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
Lucid has added a roll cage to this particular member of the Air Alpha prototype fleet
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Lucid has added a roll cage to this particular member of the Air Alpha prototype fleet
Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
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Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
Lucid hit 217 mph the first time it tested the Speed Car and followed up this month with the 235-mph run
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Lucid hit 217 mph the first time it tested the Speed Car and followed up this month with the 235-mph run
The Air Alpha Speed Car is designed for the purpose of high-performance testing
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The Air Alpha Speed Car is designed for the purpose of high-performance testing
Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
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Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
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Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
Lucid Motors shows the Air at the 2017 New York Auto Show 
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Lucid Motors shows the Air at the 2017 New York Auto Show 
While the Air's first goal will be more practical commuting with a robust range, it will also have some high-speed capability
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While the Air's first goal will be more practical commuting with a robust range, it will also have some high-speed capability
The base air will have 400 hp, but Lucid plans to offer up to 1,000 hp
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The base air will have 400 hp, but Lucid plans to offer up to 1,000 hp
A look inside the Lucid Air show car in NY
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A look inside the Lucid Air show car in NY
A look inside the Lucid Air show car in NY
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A look inside the Lucid Air show car in NY

Electric cars are known for their lightning-quick acceleration, but their top speeds tend to leave something to be desired when compared to their ICE-driven counterparts. With up to 1,000 hp worth of electric motors to work with, Lucid Motors is intent on giving EV top speed a shot in the arm. It recently removed the speed limiter on its Air Alpha Speed Car before sending it ripping around the racing oval at 235 mph (378 km/h) ... and it filmed the run for our viewing enjoyment.

Electric motors may still lag well behind internal combustion engines in the top speed race, but they're catching up little by little. The Venturi VBB-3 upped the all-out electric land speed record ante to 341 mph (549 km/h) last year, and street-legal electric supercars are coming with claims of 200-mph (322 km/h) speeds.

Lucid isn't just hitting 200, it's blowing it away ... at least in testing. The EV startup hasn't locked in an official top speed figure for its upcoming Air sedan just yet, but it has confirmed that it'll be north of 200 mph. And the quest to find out how far north is proving an exciting one.

The base air will have 400 hp, but Lucid plans to offer up to 1,000 hp
The base air will have 400 hp, but Lucid plans to offer up to 1,000 hp

Shortly before Lucid showed the Air at the 2017 NY Auto Show, it welcomed in the warming spring weather by moving from winter testing to high-performance testing. It unleashed the specially prepared Air Alpha Speed Car on the Transportation Research Center's 7.5-mile (12-km) Ohio oval to test high-speed stability and powertrain thermal management, accelerating all the way up to the software-limited 217-mph (349-km/h) top speed.

"The Lucid Air will compete with the best vehicles in the biggest markets around the world," Lucid said. "In at least one of these markets, there is an expectation of high-speed cruising that we intend to satisfy.

"High-speed capability does not compromise the mission to develop a highly efficient vehicle. A larger battery, capable of storing large quantities of energy, can release energy at a greater rate. In addition, a larger electric motor is proven to be more efficient than a smaller motor. The result is a wonderful blend of maximum efficiency when needed and blistering performance when desired."

The initial test went better than Lucid expected but still revealed some weaknesses. Lucid has been making tweaks accordingly, including bolting on more aerodynamic wheels, sharpening air suspension responsiveness, and adjusting front motor coolant flow and ventilation.

So what to do next? How about deactivating that pesky speed limitation software to see what the Air speed prototype can really do.

Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car
Lucid Motors Air Alpha Speed Car

Lucid returned to the TRC oval sans digital limiter this month, driving the Air Speed to a GPS-confirmed 235.44 mph (379 km/h). Its driver was also able to carry more speed out of the banks, firing out at 215 mph (346 km/h), about 15 mph (24 km/h) faster than the first time around.

The Air Speed Car has a track-optimized design that includes a roll cage so is not exactly a close-to-production prototype, but that's still a whole lot of speed for an EV. The list of ICE-driven supercars that can best 235.4 mph is a very short and lonely one, populated by legitimate world record holders and a sparse collection of seven-figure cars. If this were a production Air, and if it had achieved that 235 mph last year, it would have landed a number 4 spot on our list of fastest cars of 2016, between the 233-mph (375-km/h) Zenvo TS1 and the 238-mph (383-km/h) Pagani Huayra BC.

Of course, the Air still has a ways to go before becoming a fully realized production EV.

"While [235.44 mph] may be the top speed achievable on that day, with those conditions, and at this stage of development for the Alpha Speed Car, it is not the final production top speed for the Lucid Air," Lucid concluded on its blog entry about the recent test. "What it does represent, however, is further proof that the Lucid Air is a vehicle without compromise, one that offers incredible performance and dynamics, yet still offers remarkable space and comfort for a sublime luxury experience."

All in all, Lucid appears quite happy with the car's progression, and not just the headlining top speed. It praises the car's stability and cornering and says the suspension and cooling tweaks did their part.

Better yet, Lucid shows us just how well the test (or highlights of the test, anyway) went. So if you haven't already jumped right to it, now's the time to check out the video evidence of the Air Alpha Speed Car quietly tearing up Ohio pavement.

Source: Lucid Motors

Testing Without Limits: Lucid Air Hits 235 mph

10 comments
Bob
The EV problem never has been speed. It has always been range and price.
Bruce H. Anderson
Bigger batteries and electric motors are more efficient, eh? I guess it is another way of saying, there is no replacement for displacement. Good job gentlemen.
Kpar
Yeah, so? While I do appreciate performance improvements and alternative means of powering transportation, I do not see this as such. After all, jet engines work well for this sort of thing, too, but I don't see them as the answer, either. The real problem, as I see it, is that fossil fueled cars actually produce the power that propels them, while electrics require the power to be produced elsewhere, and stored in an inefficient manner. Cleaning up pollution in the big cities? Yes, electrics will go a long way for that, but for long distance travel? There is no fuel like the old fuel...
AryehZelasko
Speed, speed, speed. Not the issue How long/far can it go on a charge?
Guy Macher
Bob is 100% right. Anyone can make a car go fast with 1000 hp. Make an affordable, fast charging EV with a usable range for the real world--hills, cold weather, hot weather. I want a heater and A/C and be able to go more than 30 miles.
James Sullivan
No one NEEDS a 200mph car. In my early 20's I had a 74 'Cuda, during a race against a Porsche 944 Turbo on the interstate west of Chicago I got that 'Cuda up to 175mph. Loved it for about 20 seconds and realized my own mortality. Never raced again. Knowing all that the power exists is nice, living long enough to enjoy to enjoy your ride it is nicer.
Catweazle
1,000 HP = 746 KW, call it 750 KW for easier arithmetic. At 750 volts, that gives us 1,000 amps - that's serious current. As it is unlikely that the voltage is as high as 750, let's call it 250 volts. That will give us a peak current of 3,000 amps. Good luck sitting in a car if there is a problem with that - a power transistor fails or a battery separator ceases to separate, for example. Having seen the result of heavy duty industrial-strength electrical power faults, I'm afraid it's not for me!
Craig Jennings
Come on Catweazle, don't guess at voltages. Tesla runs 375V or so. Formula e run 800V reportedly, so you could guess somewhere between the two if they're doing a 1000hp machine, I mean, why wouldn't they? You do raise a great question though, would be interesting to hear what they're doing around that area instead of speed/power/range all day :)
Derek Howe
Good looking car, impressive speed, that said...meh. If the price tag is more then 5 digits long, and I'll give them 1 (middle) digit.
Captain Danger
@James Sullivan Unless you did some serious work to that car there is no way it would hit 175. A few more details are required before I'll buy that story
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