Lucid Motors, the ‘new’ Chinese-backed and US-based EV brand formerly known as battery technology company Atieva, has unveiled its rival to the all-electric Tesla Model S: the Lucid Air.
Officially a concept, Lucid claims it will begin production of the Air at a new facility in Arizona, with the program scheduled to begin in 2018.
The Air was revealed to media in the US today as a luxury four-seater, but, like the Tesla Model S, it is possible we will see five and even seven-seat options revealed in the year ahead.
Boasting an almost wagon-like hatch design, the Air could conceivably have been inspired by the big Citroen Numero 9 concept revealed in early 2012.
The Air’s design was led by Derek Jenkins, a former Mazda stylist who played a part in the look of the new ND MX-5 roadster.
Styling features include a blade-like grille garnish above slender LED headlights, with two cooling ducts (which may be for appearances) positioned at the front corners of the long bonnet.
Broad flanks cover the large wheels, while the long tapered roofline reaches back to a short rear deck above a slender full-length LED tail lamp design.
In the cabin, a broad dash with a wave-like perforated panel is found up front, with a long, integrated and curved display shows a combined view of the instruments and main infotainment view.
A tall portrait screen sits below, in these images showing a large view of the navigation interface.
A thick, two-spoke steering wheel sits ahead of two deep and heavily bolstered seats, while the rear reveals an ultra-luxurious space for two passengers.
Lucid says the standard Air will draw energy from a 100kWh battery pack – matching the top-shelf Tesla options – but a 130kWh option has been promised. Of course, with a 2018 launch planned, we could see Tesla roll out a similar option before then.
The company promises a 645-kilometre driving range – a claim backed up by battery partner, Samsung SDI.
The Air’s battery pack design sees the cells clustered at the front end, right up to the front suspension. Lucid calls this a “condensed system integration”, which the added advantage of allowing the heating/cooling blowers to be positioned forward of the bulkhead – a design that promises to contribute to reduced cabin noise when in use.
At the rear, there’s a multi-link suspension setup, and there’s an integrated transmission and motor arrangement back there too.
Like the ‘D’ models in the Tesla range, the Air is driven by two electric motors for an all-wheel drive configuration, and Lucid claims a combined output of 745kW. The big limo’s 0-100km/h time is said to be be between 2.5 and 3.0 seconds.
The Air will be autonomous-ready, too, with two long- and four short-range radars, three front cameras with different fields of view, five active surround-view cameras, two long- and two short-range lidars, and a driver-monitoring camera in the cabin.
The Air is expected to cost over US$100,000 for a well-optioned model, but that will be of little concern to Australian buyers, as it will likely be some time before we see a Lucid offering here – if at all.
For its part, however, the company has yet to talk about global expansion plans.