California’s Lucid has produced an electric car with an EPA-rated 520 miles—enough to beat the Tesla Model S in range and efficiency. That, in a car offering up to 1,111 hp, which exceeds the Plaid’s 1,020 hp. And it can make shorter road-trip charging stops, with up to 300 miles restored in 20 minutes. Further, it presents a holistic reinterpretation of luxury and design that, even from the launchpad, is a formidable challenger to existing luxury brands.
It’s also charming to drive, with a graceful and responsive character that matches the beautiful exterior—seemingly influenced by aircraft and French design and offering what might be the best-ever take on a long, low, cab-forward style. With a bright, welcoming interior that feels premium in the sense of Volvo or DS and seating you can sprawl out in, front or back, the cabin showcases all that you can free up in a clean-slate design that frees itself of what Lucid design VP Derek Jenkins has called “legacy thinking.”
All that together makes the Lucid Air a contender. And while the car alone is enough to easily earn a place as one of our Best Car To Buy finalists, there’s a reality to come to terms with: The Air, at least for 2022, is an extremely low-volume car.
2022 Lucid Air
On its own, at a starting price of about $170,000 in Dream Edition guise, it’s a very expensive plaything—albeit one that returns up to 520 miles of range. More affordable versions that start as low as $77,400 are on the way over the next year or so.
That said, the technology within the Air most likely will find its way to the mass market—not just in more mainstream Lucid models later in the decade but in vehicles from other brands. The compact, power-dense motors, proprietary inverter technology, and space-efficient battery packs are all ready to scale into much higher-volume models—perhaps for other automakers, and for its own future energy storage business.
Lucid Air platform
Lucid Pure Flux motor
Lucid Air battery pack
If cells are the commodity, it’s what Lucid does with that commodity that’s its ace in the market.
Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s CEO and CFO, who a decade ago was the chief engineer of the Tesla Model S, doesn’t like the idea of “off-the-shelf” components for electric vehicles, and believes that Lucid’s strengths lie in the harmony of it all—the design, packaging, performance, and extraordinary work prioritizing efficiency in the Air.
2022 Lucid Air
All the work on the harmonious whole shows in the Air. Rawlinson teases that what might be seen as a sort of “engineering purist play” may prove fruitful in the end, as production ramps up and the same harmonious approach is applied to subsequent vehicles, each higher-volume. The Gravity SUV will be enabled by a Phase 2 expansion at its Casa Grande, Arizona plant within the next year or two, then a third step including a Tesla Model 3/Y-sized vehicle and expansion up to 365,000 units annually will come later in the decade. A pickup and coupe are also in the plan by 2030.
Lucid is essentially betting on a future in which the vehicles that can smartly do the most with the least energy are the winners. Given our focus at Green Car Reports, it’s a leap but one entirely on-brand.