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EV startup, Lucid, promises 1000bhp and more than 400 miles on a charge

In the world of EV startups, a good way of garnering interest is to trump Tesla in some way. So it is with California-based Lucid, which is aiming to produce the first EV with an official range of more than 400 miles. Taking the form of the Air, the luxury saloon has a host of eye-catching stats associated with it.

If you've got a good memory you may recall Lucid. In 2017 the company revealed the Air – a luxury electric saloon that came with a range of ambitious promises attached. Since then, and like so many ambitious startups, Lucid went quiet and would seem to have fallen off the radar altogether. However, the company is back with a near production-ready version of the Air, and this time the chances are they're actually going to deliver on their promises.

In fact, after a one billion dollar investment from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, Lucid has not only been able to take the car to production readiness, it is even finishing off its Arizona factory to house that production line. So, let's take a look and see what we can expect from it.

Powertrain

It's in the powertrain and battery department (see below) that the Lucid Air is going to do much of its headline-grabbing. At the top level, Lucid is promising 1000bhp which is sent through all four wheels. This gives the Air a 0-60mph time of 'under 2.5 seconds' and a top speed of 'over 200mph'. And that 200mph+ figure is completely realistic for the road-going version, given that a gently modified prototype of the Air hit a proven 235mph in testing. Check out the video here.

Speaking of track work, the Air shouldn't just be very good at going very fast in a straight line. Back in 2018 the team took the car to Laguna Seca and set a four-door EV lap record of 1:41.67 – and anyone who's played Gran Turismo will know that Laguna Seca is a demanding track on any car, let alone a heavy electric saloon.

Charging and battery

There are plenty of EVs that can go very fast, so as impressive as all of that is, the really interesting stuff is in the technical details that Lucid is promising. It's going to be running at 900 volts – 100 more than the Porsche Taycan and more than double the usual 400 of most EVs. There are efficiency advantages to running a higher voltage, but one of the main benefits of the system will be extremely high DC charging rates of more than 300kW. We wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Air is 350kW-compatible, which is the rate that IONITY ultra-fast chargers can run at in this country.

Integral to the chassis of the Air is a choice of a very large lithium-ion battery of 100kW, or a very, very large lithium-ion battery of 130kW. The former should be good for well over 300 miles on a charge, but it's with the latter that the Lucid Air should be able to break the fabled 400 miles of real-world range. Along the way, Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson reckons that the car should set new standards of efficiency for a large, luxury saloon, achieving between four and five miles per kWh.

To put that into context, a Tesla Model 3 – which is significantly smaller – is generally regarded as extremely efficient in achieving 4.1 miles per kWh. If Lucid can tickle 5mi/kWh out of the Air, that'll be impressive.

Bringing the luxury

As you'd expect from a car with aspirations of luxury, Lucid is touting the Air as “delivering sublime comfort in a new luxury class”. Putting the 'lux' into luxury is the extremely light and spacious looking cabin, which is shrouded by an expansive glass canopy. Alcantara, wood and leather make up many of the touch surfaces. By the looks of the available images, a wrap-around digital dashboard with floating screens provides the info for the driver, whilst another floating portrait-orientated touchscreen on the lower centre console does the infotainment display. A similar touchscreen is located for rear passengers to use.

As you'd expect, mobile connectivity is at the centre of proceedings and an on-board assistant will apparently learn drivers' habits and precondition the car to their preferences. Lucid is promising that the Air is autonomous-ready and in its spiel suggests that thanks to over-the-air software upgrades, in the future the car will be able to go and pick up the kids from school while you sit at home.

You may find that you still want to be driven around by the Air, as interior space is cavernous. As standard, the rear bench will carry three adults and provide them with class-leading legroom. Optional Executive rear seating reduces the carry count to two people, but provides them with individual seats that recline to up to 55 degrees. Theoretically you could climb in the back for a snooze while on the way to the office... theoretically.

Price and availability

Lucid is going to be doing the official unveiling of the production-ready car at the New York Auto Show in April and reckons that it'll hit the road over in the US in "late 2020". Prices will start at around £46,500 ($60,000) when the base car comes out a bit further down the line, however the launch edition will go on sale at closer to £77,500 ($100,000). Happily, the Air is destined to head to Europe too, with deliveries starting later in 2021, and like customers in the USA, it's possible to reserve one for the princely sum of £775 ($1000).

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