- lucid announced that the upcoming air luxury sedan will have a range of 517 miles, besting the tesla model s by more than 100 miles.
- the automaker says it achieved this through a combination of battery technology, parts consolidation, and aerodynamics.
- the lucid air will be unveiled on september 9 and is expected to go on sale in the first part of 2021.
"we got 517 miles."
lucid ceo peter rawlinson told me the projected range of the upcoming lucid air luxury sedan during a midday break of a mileage run in one of the company’s prototypes. we had just pulled into lucid's headquarters in newhall, california, as the chase car and current champion of range with 402 miles—the tesla model s—was depleted of energy. the car had covered an impressive 357.7 miles of highway driving before entering into a low-power limp mode that required immediate charging.
the lucid air beta vehicle i was riding in still had 20 percent state of charge, and after a quick meal, i would once again sit in the back seat behind a plexiglass barrier with a mask on my face to see how far the prototype vehicle could go before it also needed to be hooked to the grid.
the projected range lucid has announced is based on testing from fev north america, a third-party testing facility. the facility ran the epa's multicycle test procedure (sae j1634, oct 2012 standard), which is how the range of most other evs (including tesla's) is determined. hitting over 500 miles of range is an ev milestone. more important, it’s something lucid expects to put on the road in the near future, with deliveries of the lucid air expected to begin in early 2021.
making the air as efficient as possible to hit this goal has been one of the driving philosophies of the ceo and his company. in a statement, rawlinson said, "i believe that our 900-volt architecture, our race-proven battery packs, miniaturized motors and power electronics, integrated transmission systems, aerodynamics, chassis and thermal systems, software, and overall system efficiency have now reached a stage where it collectively sets a new standard and delivers a host of 'world's firsts.' "
lucid recently shared its slippery 0.21 drag coefficient, and earlier this year, at an event for reservation holders, rawlinson showed off the vehicle's single unit that houses the transmission, inverter, and motor. lucid hasn't shared its battery capacity yet, but it's lower than what the automaker had originally planned. "in fact, we started off with a 130-kilowatt-hour pack . . . we announced that back in 2016. it's not that size. we've gone down quite a lot. and that's what i'm thrilled about because i want to get the numbers with a smaller pack, not a bigger pack," rawlinson told c/d.
what we do know is that the production vehicle’s battery capacity will be between 110.0 and 130.0 kwh. no matter where it lands between those two numbers, it'll be larger than tesla's 100.0-kwh battery pack in the model s, which does give it a leg up on the range front. it also helps that rawlinson helped build the model s during his time at tesla and that lucid has been building formula e battery packs for years.
even with that history, lucid is making sure that today's news is backed up with data from fev and a mileage run. which brings me back to the rear seat of the lucid air prototype. during the drive, the vehicle maintained 70 mph on the highway when possible. at one point, the cruise control stopped working, so lucid director of press communications andrew hussey had to take over. twice during the trip, the vehicle needed to essentially reboot. we pulled over, the car was shut down and restarted, and we were back on our way. it's a prototype, after all.
earlier in the testing, a porsche taycan turbo s was part of the caravan, but it bowed out after 232.2 miles of freeway driving. at 4:20 p.m., we pulled back in to the lucid headquarters parking lot. the prototype covered 458.6 miles with the air conditioning on in the real world. the drive lends credibility to the 517-mile range estimate according to epa methods. but again, it’s a prototype, and this range result is not the official number yet.
the company still needs to deliver a final production vehicle. for example, the prototype we rode in had weight added to simulate the expected production curb weight of the air. it's possible there will be changes between now and early 2021, when the company plans to start production, that may change its range figure.
but even if it loses a few miles, an air with a 500-mile (give or take) range will put not only tesla on notice, but also the traditional automakers that have struggled to keep up with tesla. in other words, get ready for the range wars, where the winner will ultimately be drivers.