Most of the Lucid Air’s specs have been announced. The company’s media strategy has been to release a new tidbit every week for the past month leading up to the actual unveiling. That way, instead of one story about a new car containing all the relevant information, you get nearly a dozen, each about its own separate feature.
It feels as if we already know a lot about this car even though today is its official public debut. Heck, The Verge went for a ride in an engineering prototype back in 2017.
Trim level and pricing are some of the newest bits of information, so let’s dive into that for a moment. There will be four versions of the Lucid Air: the base Air for $80,000 (minus tax credits); Air Touring for $95,000; Air Grand Touring at $139,000; and Air Dream Edition at a whopping $169,000 — each with its own range, performance specs, and charging estimates.
Like many EV makers, Lucid is hoping to replicate Tesla’s strategy of selling a lot of really expensive cars in the hopes of making enough money to eventually produce something more mass-market.
LUCID AIR LINEUP AT A GLANCE
||Est. EPA range (up to)
||Quarter mile (sec) / speed (mph)
||Top speed (mph)
||Charging (miles/time via DC fast charging)
||Peak charging speed
|Air Grand Touring
|| 517 miles
|Air Dream Edition
||465 miles (21" AeroDream wheels); 503 miles (19" wheels)
Another new feature is Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant will be natively integrated into the Air. That means drivers will be able to use Alexa to control the vehicle’s navigation, answer calls, change radio stations, and even link up with their Echo device at home.
Robust voice recognition is more than just a novelty, though. It can be a key element in reducing driver distraction. Being able to toggle between the directions, temperature, and Spotify while keeping my eyes on a road made me a better driver and reduced the likelihood that I’d swerve or let my attention wander. Smartphones and digital infotainment systems that invite a lot of scrolling or tapping are obvious distractions, and tech companies need to come up with better ways to mitigate that problem.
THE MOST STRIKING THING ABOUT THE AIR IS THAT IT’S A SEDAN
The most striking thing about the Air is that it’s a sedan. The US auto market is currently drowning in big, hulking vehicles, with SUV sales making up nearly 50 percent of all vehicles purchased in 2019. By 2025, experts predict light trucks and SUVs will make up over three-fourths of the US market. But Lucid isn’t going after those car buyers — at least not yet.
Lucid isn’t the only EV maker to lead with a sedan. Volvo offshoot Polestar recently began delivering its impressively minimalist Polestar 2 sedan to customers in the US. But most new electric vehicles being released are in that light truck and SUV segment, from legacy automakers like Nissan and Cadillac, to new players like Rivian.
Lucid will obviously compete with the Model S. But to hear Rawlinson say it, Tesla is not the company’s primary target. The Lucid Air is for “someone who has an S-Class Mercedes who says: ‘Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been that interested in electric. Tesla has piqued my interest, I love what Tesla is doing with electric, but I’m not getting out of my Mercedes for a Model S,’” he told Bloomberg in a recent interview.
Like many electric vehicle startups, Lucid Motors has experienced ups and downs. The Lucid Air was supposed to go into production in 2018, but the company ran into trouble lining up funding required to build its planned $700 million factories in Arizona. It spent much of 2017-2018 languishing until Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund came along.
“I think that we can be part of a movement that could catalyze change for good. That’s what I see,” Rawlinson said. “We have a partnership — which is very aligned — a partnership with the PIF. It’s a strategic partnership. They’re committed to helping us make this change to benefit all mankind. And it will benefit Saudi society.”
But the company is already working on its next vehicle, an SUV. The push to develop a second car is coming, in part, from Saudi Arabia, according to the people familiar with the company’s plans. Sales of larger cars and trucks are through the roof, and major automakers like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, have followed Tesla’s lead in developing all-electric SUVs.
An SUV is probably the least shocking next move for Lucid. Based on its price, the Lucid Air is bound to be a niche vehicle, sought by customers who likely already own an electric vehicle. In order to break out and achieve true Tesla-levels of success, the company will need to focus on bringing its prices down in order to make its vehicles accessible to a broader group of customers.
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