The Lucid Air has been under construction for more than a decade, will deliver 1,000 horsepower and can reach a quarter of a mile in less than three seconds. If the federal government continues to grant tax credits to electric vehicle buyers, the sedan will have a range of 517 miles on a single charge, according to the company's website.
The vehicle was originally scheduled to be unveiled at the New York International Auto Show last year, but was delayed due to a coronavirus pandemic. With Tesla in the grip, the automotive world sees an opportunity to rip the maker of the ultimate luxury electric sedan from Tesla's grasp. Founded in 2007 as Atieva, the company began production of a small mid-size sedan with 1,000 hp electric drive. The name was changed to Lucid Motors in 2010, with the aim of creating a massive, spacious flagship feel for a mid-size sedan, the company said.
It seems that every day that an electric car comes onto the market, it is inevitable that it will be compared to Tesla, and now we will finally find out if that is true. Few electric vehicles actually have Tesla DNA in their blood, but the Lucid does.
The Air was designed by people who claim to have a deep knowledge of the Tesla Model S and its history. That familiarity, which will surely fascinate customers, is because Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to know them pretty well from his time at the company. Indeed, Rawlinson's ability to steal customers from her former employer was tested while working on the first production car to replace the SUV on the market. Lucid Motors has acted as if it were successfully challenging Musk with its so-called "Tesla killer," but it has not yet successfully challenged Musk.
Like many electric car makers, Lucid hopes to copy Tesla's strategy of selling lots of really expensive cars to make enough money to eventually produce something more for the mass market. 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.
Another innovation is Amazon's voice assistant Alexa, which is natively integrated into the air. This means drivers can use Alexa to connect in-vehicle navigation, switch radio stations and even their Echo devices at home. But robust voice recognition is more than just a novelty; it is part of Lucid's vision for the future of electric cars.
Smartphones and digital infotainment systems that invite a lot of scrolling and typing are obvious distractions, and technology companies need to find better ways to mitigate these problems. The ability to change direction while keeping your eyes open makes you a better driver and reduces the likelihood of deviating and letting your attention wander. This may be a key element to reduce driver distraction, but it's only part of the equation.
By 2025, light commercial vehicles (SUVs) will account for more than three-quarters of the US market, according to expert forecasts. The US car market is sinking into large shirtless vehicles, with SUV sales accounting for about a third of all vehicles bought in 2019. The most striking thing about the Air, however, is that it is not a limousine in the traditional sense, but an electric luxury limousine.
The Lucid Air will compete with the Model S, of course, but Rawlinson says Tesla is not the company's primary target. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, he said Tesla had piqued his interest: "I love what they do with electric, and I've heard someone say that 10 years ago I wouldn't have been so interested in electric. If someone has an S-Class Mercedes and says, "Hey, you can't get that in a Mercedes or Model S," then the Lucid Air is there for you.
For now, the Lucid has been included in the first phase of the US government's $1.2 billion electric vehicle program and will be delivered in the spring of 2021.
The SUV is probably the least shocking next step for Lucid, but to achieve true Tesla success, the company must focus on lowering the price to make it a viable alternative to the Tesla Model S and Model X. In terms of price, it will be a niche vehicle sought by customers who are willing to own one or two electric vehicles.
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