Tesla has set the standard for advanced electric vehicles for a decade but upstart Lucid wants to change that. Led by the former chief engineer for Tesla’s breakthrough Model S, Lucid said two versions of its luxury Air sedan are certified as delivering more than 500 miles per charge—the best on the market and over 100 miles more than Tesla’s longest-range cars.
Lucid said the Air Dream Edition Range with 19-inch wheels goes 520 miles per charge, while the Air Grand Touring sedan, also with 19-inch wheels, gets 516 miles per charge, based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tests. Elon Musk had promised Tesla would deliver a “Plaid Plus” version of Model S that would also go 520 miles per charge, but canceled it in June. Currently, the Long Range Model S, which gets 405 miles per charge, is the company’s range leader.
The premium Lucid cars, priced at $169,000 and $139,000, respectively, achieve high power and long range as a result of efficient battery packs, compact motors and lightweight components that Peter Rawlinson, the company’s CEO and CTO, says are the industry’s most advanced.
Real world range per charge has been an issue for electric vehicles for decades, particularly in the early 2010s when public charging infrastructure wasn’t widely available. That gave rise to “range anxiety” concerns, the fear drivers would be left stranded when their batteries ran low. Years of improved batteries and better technology have led to numerous EV models that deliver 300 miles per charge or more, along with much-improved charging networks, have done to eliminate range anxiety. The Lucid Air seems to make that concern irrelevant.
“Crucially, this landmark (range rating) has been achieved by Lucid’s world-leading in-house EV technology, not by simply installing an oversize battery pack,” Rawlinson said in a statement. “The next generation EV has truly arrived!”
Newark, California-based Lucid, which listed shares in July after a merger with special purpose acquisition company Churchill Capital IV, is preparing to begin building Air sedans in the coming weeks at its new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona. It joins fellow startups Rivian, which began producing R1T pickups this week, and Fisker Inc. as the next-generation of EV companies angling to take on market leader Tesla.
(For more on Lucid and Peter Rawlinson, see Elon Musk’s Ex-Chief Engineer Creates A New Car—And Says It Beats Tesla)
Rawlinson, a veteran engineer who has worked for Jaguar and Lotus, left Tesla in 2012 just before the Model S went into production. He and Lucid’s engineers, including other Tesla veterans, spent years developing the Air, working to refine its ride and handling, driver and passenger amenities and electronics, at times with limited funds. The company’s fortunes changed in 2018 when Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund invested $1.3 billion to help make the Air a reality. The company said it raised a further $2 billion from the SPAC merger.
An initial review of Air’s performance by Motor Trend in August, which included a drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco without stopping to recharge, was glowing. The magazine described the 933-horsepower Air Dream Edition Range as “an absolute mic drop” and said Lucid’s first model is “absolutely a threat to Tesla and other luxury carmakers.”
Lucid shares rose 5.1% to $19.91 in Nasdaq trading on Wednesday.