Lucid Motors (formerly Atieva) launched its long-awaited luxury sedan, the Air, at a ceremony near San Francisco yesterday.
We had seen a test mule at the Los Angeles Auto Show and were not overly impressed, mostly because the prototype was heavily camouflaged with masking graphics, and the interior was only partially finished, with its high-tech components displayed in their raw state and a fire extinguisher prominently installed where the glove box should have been. The whole assemblage looked like a 7 series being prepared for a NASCAR race.
So we didn’t report on the car, thinking that Derek Jenkins and company would have something more substantial to reveal here in December.
And indeed, the Air revealed yesterday is certainly a handsome car. The Air will be marketed as an executive class car for four passengers with superior luxury appointments, advanced mechanicals and massive horsepower and range. Its price, not yet released, is said to be in the $100,000-plus range, similar to the BMW 7 series and others in its class.
The design is an elegant composition of tailored massing, taut surfacing, and minimal graphics. The side elevation reveals sedan proportions, but with a very short trunk that makes the car seem like a near-fastback, or a near-crossover. Surfacing and character lines are subtle and not overworked. The fasciae of both front and rear are elegantly tailored, with minimal lighting schemes and brightwork.
It features highly advanced headlights, called Lucid Vision, with a bespoke mirroring system and almost 5000 tiny lenses each, making for a very thin (19mm) assembly that seems almost like a lighted trim piece. It makes for a striking face on the car. If these lights are successful, they may change the entire mask of future vehicles as headlight assemblies become nearly invisible.
Technically, the Air boasts a massive 1,000 horsepower from its bespoke motors and advanced Samsung battery powertrain. A 100KW motor is standard, a 130 KW variant will be available. Acceleration from 0-100km/h is said to be 2.5 seconds. Range is estimated by Lucid to be 400 miles – the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Partial autonomy and driver assist technologies are standard on the Air, with future software updates to bring full autonomy to the car in the near future. The necessary radar, lidar and camera units will be standard equipment.
The interior is, as expected, ultra-luxe, with a Tesla-like IP and large touchscreen. Seating up front is two plush bucket seats. In the rear, a contoured bench seat is standard, but an optional pair of recliners, similar to business class seating in airplanes, is available. A rear entertainment system is a standard feature. As befitting a rolling executive class suite, a sound dampening system and a 29 speaker sound system will make for an ideal acoustical environment. The C-Suite ambience is additionally enhanced by the broad panoramic roof that arches over the passenger compartment.
The Air enters a suddenly crowded Tech-Luxury market, with Lucid competing with Tesla, Karma, Faraday Future, as well as established players like BMW and Mercedes with their more traditional but rapidly evolving executive class offerings. Also potentially waiting in the wings are LeEco and maybe even Apple. In the hyper-Darwinian world of the automobile industry, only one or two of these will survive.
Whatever Lucid’s future, their initial offering has certainly raised the bar for design excellence in the luxury car space.
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