First Look: The New 2021 Lucid Air Luxury Sedan with 517-Mile Range

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DRIVING THE 2021 LUCID AIR

In the interest of complete disclosure, I only sat in the Lucid Air so the heading “Driving the Lucid Air” is a bit of a misnomer but here are my impressions nonetheless.

“Lucid has been able to closely match its own computer-modeled predictions in real world testing by carefully engineering its proprietary technology with a focus on optimizing every aspect of the Air’s performance and efficiency,” company spokesman Dave Buchko told me during my visit.

Under the hood, so to speak, there are two motors.  One is up front and drives the front wheels and one is at the rear. Each is capable of over 600 horsepower, but the combined drivetrain peaks at 1,000 horsepower, limited by the battery’s amperage.

The Lucid Air’s drivetrain

If you’re wondering how this works, it’s simple: It’s all done with magnets.  One of the significant aspects of the drivetrain the company developed is the line of rather powerful, compact, and rather efficient permanent magnet electric motors.  Lucid combines these motors with an inverter and an integrated transmission and differential that results in a 900V+ electric drive unit that weighs in at a mere 163 pounds (73 kilograms).  How compact is it?  The one I saw could fit in a large carry-on bag.

Indeed, what I learnt from Eric Bach, Lucid Motors’ vice president of hardware engineering, could fill multiple articles and reviews, but I’ll try to summarize the key points here.

To accomplish this engineering wonder, Lucid had to develop a new motor winding technology that maximizes power output and reduces electrical losses, as well as a new type of cooling system that is more effective in removing heat from the stator winding, thus minimizing losses and boosting its efficiency, Bach explained.

This allows the Air to reach a quarter-mile time of 9.9 seconds, the only EV, Bach points out, to achieve a quarter-mile time under ten second seconds.

In a one-on-one briefing in New York City, Bach explained why it was so critical for the automaker to create its own technology and maximize the powertrain’s efficiency, not just for the Air but for the models that have yet to be launched.

The 517-mile range of the Air was confirmed by a test run by the German engineering company FEV, or Forschungs für Energietechnik und Verbrennungsmotoren, which conducted an EPA-like two-cycle range test on the vehicle.

This would in fact beat the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus by at least 115 miles (185 km).

BOTTOM LINE

There’s a key difference between the Lucid models I’ve been in as opposed to any of the Teslas: The Lucid looks and feels like a luxury sport sedan while climbing into a Tesla does not at all evoke such a feeling.  If Tesla’s “minimalist” approach suffices, that’s fine of course, but at the price point these vehicles are commanding, one may be forgiven for having certain expectations.  While I don’t expect Ricardo Montalban to tout Lucid’s “rich Corinthian leather” (whatever Corinthian leather might be), the impression is clearly that some thought and effort were put into the interior as well as into the drivetrain.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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