Lucid: we can take it to a whole new level of range and efficiency

Lucid Air is finally going to come to market this year after a delay of a few years – likely becoming the first of the new wave of California EV startups to bring an electric car to production after Tesla.

In 2017, Lucid Motors announced an aggressive $60,000 base price for its luxury all-electric sedan, the Lucid Air, with a range of 240 miles and some other interesting specs.

At the time, Lucid also unveiled its plan for a $700 million factory in Arizona to produce the Air in 2018.

However, they had difficulties raising the capital needed to start the construction of the plant.

Late in 2018, Lucid secured over $1 billion in investments from Saudi Arabia, which put them back on track for their 2017 plans.

A few months ago, they started construction on the Arizona factory and they said that they planned for the first deliveries to happen by the end of 2020.

The timeline seems aggressive, but Peter Rawlinson, Lucid CEO and CTO, at the Bloomberg BNEF Summit in San Francisco, is confident that they are going to be able to stick to it.

He confirmed to Electrek that they are now installing the roof on the structure of the factory and they are going to start building the production lines.

At the moment, they are building 80 pre-production prototypes and testing out production processes at their facility in California. The manufacturing team in Arizona will use build on top of the work being done in California to deploy the production capacity. The vehicle that they are going to build is not exactly the same that was unveiled in 2017. The production version and all the specs are going to be unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April, but we managed to get a few new details about the Lucid Air in our interview with Rawlinson.

In the interview, Peter Rawlinson said that they currently have Lucid Air going 400 miles on a single charge based on their EPA cycle estimation. He said that their car is going to achieve 4 or even 5 miles per kWh and dethrone Tesla has the range and efficiency king of the electric car industry.

When Lucid first unveiled the Air in 2017, they announced three battery pack options with up to 130 kWh of capacity and 400 miles of range.

Now Rawlinson confirmed that the top range version of the Air will get 400 miles, but it will use a smaller pack than 130 kWh – thanks to the efficiency gains they’ve made over the last few years.

He mentioned several improvements throughout the entire drive unit, which Rawlinson says is so small that he can pick it up despite the fact that it can output 1,000 hp.

The most interesting update is that they are launching a new 900-volt system with the Lucid Air:

“Tesla is a 400-volt. Porsche is introducing an 800-volt system. We are going with an over 900-volt system.”

It’s going to be a first in a passenger electric vehicle and Rawlinson says that it is going to enable a more efficient powertrain that will go over 400 miles of range.

Rawlinson said at BNEF:

“Tesla hasn’t cracked it. We can take it to a whole new level of range and efficiency.”

To gain some efficiency, they went as far as designing a new shape of gear for the gearbox. It’s not all good news though.

The CEO also confirmed that they still plan on making the cheaper versions, but it will come later. Today they will focus on the higher-end versions, which will start north of $100,000. Rawlinson made it clear that with Lucid’s first vehicle, he is going after German luxury vehicles, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

He believes that as a core technology company, they can get the electric car technology right, much like Tesla did, but they see a lot of room of improvements with interior design and finish to have a more competitive product against German luxury vehicles.

The production version of the Lucid Air is going to be unveiled in April at the New York Auto show. All specs and pricing information are going to be released at that time.