Terms like “Tesla fighter” and “Tesla killer” have become cliché, and also just plain false, so many seemingly solid contenders either falling by the wayside or failing to dent the California EV maker’s dominance on the sales charts. But one startup could be getting Elon Musk and company looking over their shoulders.
Just a week ago, we learned that the new Lucid Air delivered an astounding 517 miles between charges based on a simulation of the EPA test cycle. Now comes word that the battery sedan will be able to add a full 300 miles of range using the latest-generation quick chargers in a mere 20 minutes. The best of today’s BEVs take two to three times as long to add another 200 miles.
A single vehicle, especially a sedan in an SUV-centric market, may not make for a serious competitor, whatever the specs might suggest, but Lucid appears to have other ammunition it’s readying in a bid to tackle Tesla. In an interview on the E for Electric Youtube channel, Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson revealed that the company is now working on a second model. And, in keeping with current trends, it will be an SUV.
“We haven’t achieved anything until we get Lucid into production,” said the one-time Jaguar executive. “But we do have an SUV off the Air platform,” he confirmed, taking things a step further by adding “We’ve got other cars and other platforms planned.”
As Rawlinson suggested, all attention, for now, should focus on the Lucid Air sedan. And we’ll get a formal look at it the battery-electric vehicle when it makes its formal debut at 7 p.m. EDT on Sept. 7 during an online event.
But plenty of information has been leaking out and that includes some seriously impressive numbers. As TheDetroitBureau.com reported last week, the independent EV research firm FEV North America, using the same testing method as the EPA, found the longest-range version of the Air capable of 517 miles per charge. That would be almost 30% more than the best that Tesla can offer, a new, 402-mile version of the Model S sedan.
The longest-range Lucid Air was expected to be powered by a 130 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. It is unclear if that will remain the case in production. But what is certain is that it will top 100 kWh and thus, a drained battery will suck down a lot of juice. The good news, at least according to Lucid, is that it is taking steps to speed up the recharge process, one of the obstacles to widespread EV adoption.
The company claims that by plugging into one of the new, 350 kW DC fast chargers from Electrify America it will be able to add 300 miles in a mere 20 minutes.
The closest competitor is the Porsche Taycan which can get an 80% recharge in 22.5 minutes. But that’s with a full battery range of just 201 miles, so the Lucid adds range about twice as fast as Porsche, which is already faster than Tesla.
It helps that Lucid can draw the full 350 kW from the Electrify America charger. Porsche only can manage 270 kW. The Air, meanwhile, has a 900-volt battery architecture, the world’s highest, compared to Taycan’s 800.
Lucid also claims it has developed batteries that can handle such lightning-fast charge-discharge cycles without shortening their lifecycle, further raising speeds through a new thermal management system. One of the limiting factors when charging up is the inherent build up of battery heat.
The reality is that 80% of today’s EV owners charge at home and, according to industry experts like Chargepoint CEO Pat Romano, that will remain the case in the future. So, how to deal with a big battery when using a 240-volt system? Lucid says its 19.2-kW “Wunderbox” will also boost charging times at home, adding a hefty 80 miles of range every hour.
To put that into perspective, that’s only slightly less than what some of today’s BEVs get using the first-generation 50 kW DC public charging stations.
With what could be breakthrough range and charging stats, as well as some real performance numbers, Lucid could pose a serious threat not only to Tesla but other EV start-ups and existing manufacturers pushing into EV space, such as Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors.
In his YouTube interview, Rawlinson stressed a desire to retain his “humility.” Perhaps, but he is clearly optimistic that Lucid has a serious place in the nascent EV market, suggesting it has big sales aspirations.
“I’d be liking us to make about a million cars (a year) by ’27,” he said.
We should soon get a sense of what could get Lucid to that target.