We’re still more than a week away from the official debut of the new Lucid Air battery sedan, but the startup automaker continues to tease us with more and more intriguing details. Today it revealed the BEV will be offered with a 113 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that it expects to get a range of as much as 517 miles once the EPA completes testing.
That’s a smaller pack than Lucid had originally indicated and suggests it has made significant improvements in the efficiency of the new Lucid Electric Advanced Platform, or LEAP, the sedan will be based on.
While it appears to be in the running for “most energy-efficient EV,” it also will come close to being one of the fastest. The skateboard-style LEAP architecture is flexible, but the initial version of the battery-electric sedan will use two motors, one on each axle, providing a combined 1,000 horsepower and capable of launching the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds, according to Lucid.
The goal of the project, said Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson, was to maximize “smart range,” by pushing for maximum efficiency.
“It’s relatively easy to achieve more range by adding progressively more batteries, but gaining ‘dumb range’ that way increases weight and cost, and reduces interior space,” Rawlinson added. “Lucid Air has achieved its remarkable range whilst also reducing battery size through its in-house technology, resulting in a breakthrough in overall vehicle-level efficiency.”
Currently, the longest-range EV on the market is the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus. Launched this past spring, it gets an EPA rating of 402 miles. Tesla has been vague about details, starting with the exact size of the battery pack in that model. It only says that the Plus uses the same pack “design” as in the earlier, 391-mile Model S Long Range. There had been some preliminary reports Tesla would need to go with a 110 kilowatt-hour pack but also appears to have used a smart range approach.
Even at just 100 kWh, however, the Model S Long Range Plus achieves about 4.02 miles per kilowatt-hour. By comparison, the Lucid Air – if the preliminary range holds – will yield 4.58 miles per kWh, a significant boost.
“It is definitely a very significant increase in efficiency,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal automotive analyst with Navigant Research. “It’s way more than anyone has been able to do so far with an EV that isn’t some sort of hypermiling vehicle but a production model.”
That’s all the more significant, said Abuelsamid, considering that Lucid was originally planning to use a 130 kWh pack to achieve the industry-record range the Air will deliver. A smaller pack – if one can use that term to describe one still providing 113 kilowatt-hours – translates into a lighter vehicle with more interior space, according to Rawlinson.
Expect a class-above cabin compared to the modest exterior footprint of the sedan. In terms of cargo space, there’s a total of 26.1 cubic feet, 16.2 cf in a conventional trunk and another 9.9 cf in the Air’s frunk. That is, by the way, more than double the 4.8 cf size of the Mustang Mach-E’s frunk – and that SUV will lose its front storage space entirely with the Mach-E GT model. Tesla’s Model S offers 5.3 cf in its rear-wheel-drive trim, even less in the all-wheel-drive configuration.
As for performance, the Lucid Air is expected to manage 0-60 times of 2.5 seconds, only a couple tenths slower than the highest-performance version of the Tesla Model S and, to provide some additional comparison, within a hair of what the limited-range Dodge Challenger Hellcat Demon managed.
In its latest news release, Lucid offered a few offer pertinent bits of information, starting with the fact that it will follow the Tesla playbook and offer at lease several different battery pack/range options. It’s also expected to offer a lower-cost rear-wheel-drive version of the Air.
Along with the industry-record range, Lucid is claiming the sedan will feature the fastest charging time of any BEV. If you have access to one of the newest public quick chargers rated at 350 kilowatts, the Air will be able to add 300 miles of range in a mere 20 minutes thanks to its 900-volt electrical architecture. The best of today’s BEVs, such as the new Porsche Taycan, take two to three times as long to add another 200 miles.
Expect to see the production version of the Lucid Air make its online debut on September 9. Production is set to begin at a new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona next year.
Note that all the numbers Lucid is now quoting are preliminary, especially range. It turned to EV consultancy FEV North American to run a test based on the federal cycle, but the final range figure will not be released by the EPA until closer to the Air sedan’s on-sale date.