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Why the Lucid Air is more than the sum of its eye-popping specs

NEWARK, Calif. – There’s an otherworldly high quality to the Lucid Air. It’s low and vast with a streamlined entrance finish freed from the same old “face” of headlight models and radiator grille (be it actual or not). The silhouette is uncommon, particularly on the rear, with its lengthy wheelbase, truncated decklid, clamshell trunk and floating roof in silver. There’s one thing virtually French about this American electrical sedan – particularly, it’s arduous not to consider the Citroen DS. Like that the majority Gallic of traditional vehicles, the Lucid stands aside in gorgeous distinction to the vehicles round it ­– even right here in Silicon Valley the place Teslas and different futuristic EVs are commonplace.

And it doesn’t simply stand out by way of look, both. The Lucid Air is the form of factor that you actually need to dissect to completely respect how completely different it’s and the extent of labor that went into it. Sure, the specs and driving expertise of the Lucid Air are mighty spectacular, however the way it achieves them is much more so.

The corporate, based mostly simply throughout San Francisco Bay from numerous tech behemoths, has gone to nice lengths to do as a lot in-house as potential, from its ingeniously packaged motors to the software program in its 90 in-car computer systems (ECUs). It’s additionally an unusually boutique setup. The design and engineering groups aren’t simply positioned in the identical headquarters advanced and the identical constructing, they actually share a room (pictured under). The engineers’ computer systems are positioned on a mezzanine inside and overlooking the design studio the place mockups are created bodily and nearly. Simply down a corridor is an expansive workshop crammed with lifts and prototypes, whereas places of work for executives, software program engineers and even public relations exist inside the identical advanced. Comparable components of different carmakers wouldn’t solely be usually unfold amongst separate buildings, they’re usually unfold throughout states, nations and even continents. That speaks to the potential advantages of organizational effectivity and synergy as a lot because it does maximizing actual property and, properly, being a quite small startup firm.

Small sure, but in addition very properly financed. Once you check out the componentry created in-house for the Lucid Air, evaluate it to that of rival EVs, and listen to chief engineer Erik Bach describe all of it, you don’t need to be an accountant to work out that corners weren’t reduce for the sake of funds. One of the best instance of that is Lucid’s motor unit (under proper), which produces a whopping 670 horsepower and weighs 163 kilos. When seen subsequent to a number of much less highly effective and heavier motor models (together with Tesla’s in any other case spectacular unit), it fairly clearly takes up much less area.

A part of the packaging trick is its micro differential (under left) that matches inside what would usually be empty area inside the electrical rotor. It’s a good looking little piece, with intricate gears match collectively to create a quasi-sphere with shafts that rotate out of two ends. It seems designed, not engineered, like one thing created by a sci-fi prop division quite than automobile engineers. The motor’s stator is equally as a lot a murals as it’s a piece of equipment, with wires constantly weaved collectively in a good looking lattice paying homage to the buildings created by mid-century architect Minoru Yamasaki.

None of this was finished for magnificence, nevertheless ­– keep in mind, these items are ensconced inside a motor housing by no means to be seen. Their class speaks to their engineering and effectivity – of area, in output and of the sources wanted to assemble them. In keeping with chief engineer Erik Bach (pictured under), the stator’s steady weave winding that creates that lattice sample requires a fraction of the laser welding different stators require and subsequently a fraction of the power wanted to provide it.

Oh, and the top result’s an extremely power dense piece of apparatus. The motors within the Air Grand Touring produce 819 hp and 885 pound-feet of torque, whereas the brand new Grand Touring Efficiency that’s mechanically analogous to the limited-run Dream Version, boasts an absurd 1,050 hp and 921 lb-ft of torque.

In fact, a key part of all that thrust is the Lucid battery pack array. Every pack is way smaller than these present in a Tesla. Which means every holds much less power, however Bach signifies there are packaging, cooling and energy advantages of smaller packs. The cylindrical battery cells are grouped collectively and positioned atop a metallic cooling plate by way of which a water/glycol combination cycles (Tesla snakes coolant across the sides of its cylindrical cells, which Bach says is much less efficient, like attempting to chill somebody wrapped in a Persian rug from the perimeters versus the open high). This plate, together with the pack’s smaller dimension and the one piece of molded plastic housing all of it, makes for an especially robust unit, which is helpful for crashworthiness.

There are 22 of these packs within the Lucid Air Grand Touring and Grand Touring Efficiency, leading to a bladder-busting vary of 516 miles within the GT with 19-inch wheels, 469 in a GT with 21’s, and 446 for the Efficiency. The Air Pure and Touring trims have 18 packs, and, certainly, the Air was initially solely supposed to have 18. You see, these 4 additional packs within the GT fashions match precisely inside a spot within the general battery array that was left to permit for the again seat footwell. Filling that hole with the additional packs raises that footwell by 2 to three inches, considerably lowering passenger consolation by bringing your toes nearer to the extent of your butt. It’s a bit like sitting in an SUV’s third row, albeit with a ton extra space behind the entrance seats.

That is clearly a trade-off, and one which consumers ought to severely contemplate, however there’s a transparent benefit that Bach’s staff realized.

“We are able to kill vary nervousness,” he mentioned, and topping the 500-mile threshold would certain appear to do this.

Now, having a large quantity of battery capability is sweet, however recharging the factor is a quite key ingredient too. Enter the Wunderbox (pictured above left). Within the easiest phrases, it’s the onboard charger. It sucks in electrical energy from a plug and deposits it into the battery. Nonetheless, its 900-volt structure permits for some mighty suction with a most DC fast-charging pace of 300 kilowatts (that’s higher than the 270 kW of the 800-volt Porsche Taycan). At a 350-kW DC quick charger, the Air can theoretically recoup 300 miles in 21 minutes.

On the identical time, the Wunderbox makes the Air able to “bi-directional charging,” whereby it could possibly energy your home at a price of 19.2 kilowatts of AC. You may as well cost one other electrical automobile ­– the bag containing the surprisingly compact cost twine contains plug attachments for 120 volts and 240 volts, plus the automobile charging “gun” as Bach completely referred to the factor. These aren’t distinctive skills, however they’re uncommon, with the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and Ford F-150 Lightning being the few with comparable capabilities (although none match the output of the Air).

The inside will get loads of consideration, too. Whereas it’s traditionally been commonplace for small and/or startup firms to depend on third events for issues like inside switches, door handles and even infotainments system, as soon as once more, Lucid saved issues in-house. The buttons and switches, that are few in quantity however do exist, look suitably costly and transfer accordingly. The little barrel rollers on the fats, two-spoke steering wheel are significantly beautiful. The leather-based, fake suede and open pore wooden masking most surfaces are top-notch stuff; the textile cloth featured in two of the 4 inside colour schemes is comprised of alpaca yarn, and positively reveals that there’s much more than simply cow pores and skin out there to make a automobile’s inside feel and appear costly. Fairly merely, the inside is the actual deal.

Then there are the bespoke 1s and 0s. As beforehand talked about, there are 90 computer systems within the automobile that management all the things, with 70 of them able to over-the-air updates. The exceptions are for issues like decreasing the home windows. Most have been additionally developed in-house by Lucid, and in keeping with chief software program guru and longtime Apple vet Mike Bell (pictured under left), his staff goals to deliver much more of the models in-house sooner or later.

“Being within the valley, it’s simply not an enormous deal for us to do this,” Bell mentioned, although he notes {that a} contract producer truly builds the models.

Bell was additionally a key determine by way of figuring out how one interacts with all that updatable software program. The Air has three touchscreens, plus a show for the devices and key driving-related data. When requested concerning the one-screen-does-all strategy of Tesla and Rivian, he posited that it’s definitely an strategy that saves cash, however famous that he didn’t like having to always look over to see his pace and different continuously wanted information.

 “I need to have the important thing bits of knowledge proper in entrance of me,” he mentioned, focusing his palms ahead towards an imaginary instrument panel. And regardless of having a 34-inch arc of shows in 5K decision and a second massive touchscreen under, he’s not unsuitable in saying that the Air’s display screen setup is much less overwhelming than the Mercedes EQS Hyperscreen with its three big screens behind an enormous piece of glass accented by an infinite array of inside colours.

“We’re not constructing an evening membership,” he mused.

And certainly, there’s one thing awfully acquainted concerning the Lucid Air inside. The touchscreens might have changed most buttons, however they’re positioned roughly the place these buttons was once. You additionally don’t have to hunt deep into menus, or wade by way of an immense quantity of selection and customization. Mainly, Lucid makes choices by way of format and the way issues work based mostly on its expertise, analysis, instinct, buyer suggestions and simply utilizing the rattling factor. That extends to driving modes, by the way in which. With OTA updates, nevertheless, it could possibly all the time swap issues up if one thing isn’t working, isn’t working in addition to it ought to, or individuals simply don’t prefer it.

To that time, Lucid is about to push out an replace that corrected two factors of frustration skilled throughout our first drive of the automobile. The infotainment display screen’s docked menu icons have been positioned on the best facet of the display screen, which appeared tidy, however meant the buttons are miles away from the motive force. They’re being relocated to the left facet. The opposite challenge was associated to the navigation system instructions: the bit that graphically reveals you the directional arrows of your subsequent flip together with the road title and lane strategies would continuously be lined up by a search menu ingredient (or not be proven in any respect when you have the audio display screen up). Now these directional components present up within the instrument show.

In fact, OTA updates definitely aren’t distinctive to Lucid – they’ve been a key energy and level of differentiation for Tesla. They’re an absolute game-changer, and Bell says that his staff will do its finest to verify buyer vehicles are nonetheless supported as they grow old, noting fairly accurately {that a} $179,000 automobile is extraordinarily completely different than an iPhone. Deliberate obsolescence simply wouldn’t be cool.

However the Lucid Air is most positively cool, and never simply because it seems cool or in saying you drive one thing with 1,050 hp is cool. It’s cool in the identical approach as a high-end watch: these within the know will acknowledge you’ve gotten one thing that’s been engineered and crafted to a particular diploma. And if it’s not clear sufficient, maybe Lucid ought to throw in an additional micro differential simply as a visible assist. Man, that little factor is cool.

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