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Lucid sets a new benchmark in EV range in US test, but how will it do in Europe?

EV start-up, Lucid, is taking the numbers game to a new level with the latest being particularly striking: 517 miles on a single charge. This is the highest of any production EV so far, and with the launch of the finalised production car just round the corner, it sets the scene for a real challenger to Tesla's dominance in the electric saloon market.

Lucid makes no bones about the fact that it expected big things from its first car, the Air, when it was sent for EPA testing (the US equivalent of WLTP testing). Its best estimate prior to being sent to the FEV North America facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan, was more than 400 miles – a figure which would have put it in its own category of long-range EVs by itself.

The results from the official EPA standard testing procedure were pretty astonishing, with the Lucid Air achieving an estimated 517 miles per full charge. This makes it the longest range electric vehicle to date.

How Lucid achieved it

There's one big reason why the Lucid Air is able to go for so long on one charge, and that's the sheer size of its battery. At 130kWh in long-range form, it is a giant (you can read more about the car's specs in our previous story). According to Lucid, its battery packs have been developed and refined over a decade and 20 million real-world miles of testing.

There's more to it than a gargantuan battery, though. According to Lucid CEO, Peter Rawlinson, everything about the car has come together to deliver a new level of efficiency – and it's been done in-house: “I believe that our 900-volt architecture, our race-proven battery packs, miniaturised motors and power electronics, integrated transmission systems, aerodynamics, chassis and thermal systems, software and overall system efficiency have reached a stage where they collectively set a new standard and deliver a host of 'world firsts'.”

Lucid's claim of race-proven technology isn't an empty boast either, with the brand's technology division, Atieva, having supplied the battery packs to Formula E since 2018 – a contract which ends in 2022. Furthermore, in our previous piece on the Air we made mention of the fact that the car, in gently modified form, hit 235mph in testing. Those kinds of speeds don't happen in EVs without clever cooling and robust power electronics.

The production version will still get a top speed of 'over 200mph' and a 0-60mph time of under 2.5 seconds thanks to 1000bhp which is sent through all four corners.

What about range on other test cycles

If the Lucid Air is going to come to Europe it will be subject to the WLTP test cycle like all other EVs homologated for sale in the market. Inevitably, this means that the 'official' range of the car will vary compared to the US EPA figures.

Due to the size of the country, the EPA test is different to WLTP in that it is based more on long-range cruising rather than the stop-start driving that we are more familiar with over here. When you look at cars that are currently on the market and compare their EPA range with the WLTP figure, typically the WLTP figure is higher – simply because EVs are more efficient at lower speeds and gain range from slowing down thanks to regenerative braking.

Inside EVs has a really useful chart which is worth looking at for direct comparisons. A Porsche Taycan 4S only gets 203 miles on the EPA compared to 288 miles on the WLTP cycle, for example.

What you'll notice is that Teslas typically match or beat their WLTP range on the EPA cycle and there's a big reason for this; they're developed in the USA and tuned for its testing procedures. We can therefore surmise that the Lucid Air will perform similarly and potentially have a slightly shorter range of closer to 500 miles on the WLTP cycle.

Either way, it's going to be mighty impressive with a real-world range of well over 400 miles, and when combined with the technology and luxury that Lucid is promising, the car has the potential to show up any given premium EV currently on the market.

And charging the mammoth battery?

Lucid is again really cranking up the numbers when it comes to the Air's charging stats so getting juice back into the car is going to be possible at super-fast speeds. The headline figure is a maximum DC input, via the CCS connector, at over 300kW delivering 20 miles per minute of range. Buyers of the car in the US will get three years' worth of free charging at Electrify America's growing network of 150-350kW ultra-rapid chargers, too.

A 19.2kW AC on-board charger is similarly big when compared with that of many other premium brands (for example, Teslas have a maximum of 11kW). This enables the Lucid Air to take on AC current at a rate of 80 miles per hour.

Full bi-directionality means that the Air is fully capable of vehicle-to-everything (V2X), vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity. As such, it can work for localised home energy storage – such as that generated by solar – for which the brand has developed the Lucid Connected Home Charging Station. V2X and V2V technology is still very much in its infancy, but buyers will at least know that the car is future-proofed.

The official Lucid brand launch and reveal of the production-spec Lucid Air happens on September 9. We'll bring you all the news when it happens!

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