Lucid Air demonstrates 500-mile range

Lucid Motors has announced independent verification of a 517-mile range for its upcoming Lucid Air luxury sedan. The tests were conducted by FEV North America in Auburn Hills, Michigan, using the EPA’s Multicycle Test procedure.

This appears to be a new record for a passenger EV, handily besting the 402-mile range of the 2020 Tesla Model S Long Range Plus.

The Lucid Air is to be revealed September 9, and the company hopes to begin production to within six months after that.

As John Voelcker writes in IEEE Spectrum, the Air has gone through several rounds of improvement since its original unveiling in 2017. Lucid’s engineers redesigned the vehicle’s power electronics, motors and battery packs, drawing on the expertise of the company’s Atieva division, which has supplied battery packs for the Formula E racing series since 2018.

Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson, a Tesla alum, believes an EV-maker needs to engineer the critical components of its powertrain—battery pack, motors, inverters, transmission and software—in-house. “Every detail adds up,” he told Spectrum.

The production vehicle’s battery pack will run at “significantly over 900 volts.” Lucid hasn’t specified the size, but the 2017 prototype had a 130 kWh pack. The new pack uses thousands of 21700-format cylindrical cells, featuring a battery chemistry jointly developed by Lucid and partner LG Chem.

The car’s two permanent-magnet motors use an “ultracompact” design, which Rawlinson says enables an unprecedented output density of 55 kW per liter, and feature a proprietary liquid cooling system. Lucid’s motor spins at up to 20,000 rpm, and has a novel magnetic design that reduces cogging losses.

The Air will support 350 kW fast charging.

“I believe that our 900-volt architecture, our race-proven battery packs, miniaturized motors and power electronics, integrated transmission systems, aerodynamics, chassis and thermal systems, software, and overall system efficiency have now reached a stage where they collectively set a new standard and deliver a host of ‘world’s firsts,’” said Peter Rawlinson.

Regardless of the Tesla Tesla Tesla headlines you’ve seen, Rawlinson doesn’t see the Lucid Air as a competitor for Model S, but rather for luxury sedans such as the Mercedes S-Class. He’s aiming at buyers who want more luxury than minimalist Tesla offers. Once the Air eradicates range anxiety for good and all, the company plans to launch cheaper models with shorter but still adequate ranges for “the man in the street.”

In a humorous footnote, after Lucid Motors announced the Air’s 500-mile range, Lucid Inc., an unrelated medical company, saw its stock go up 241%. Does this tell us something about the sophistication of the investors currently piling into EV stocks?

Sources: Lucid Motors, IEEE Spectrum