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

NEWARK, Calif. – There may be an otherworldly high quality to the Lucid Air. It’s low and large with a streamlined entrance finish freed from the standard “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 exhausting not to consider the Citroen DS. Like that the majority Gallic of traditional automobiles, the Lucid stands aside in gorgeous distinction to the automobiles round it ­– even right here in Silicon Valley the place Teslas and different futuristic EVs are commonplace.

And it doesn’t simply stand out when it comes to look, both. The Lucid Air is the kind of factor that you really want to dissect to totally respect how totally 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, primarily based simply throughout San Francisco Bay from numerous tech behemoths, has gone to nice lengths to do as a lot in-house as doable, 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 situated in the identical headquarters advanced and the identical constructing, they actually share a room (pictured under). The engineers’ computer systems are situated on a mezzanine inside and overlooking the design studio the place mockups are created bodily and just about. Simply down a corridor is an expansive workshop full of 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 typically unfold throughout states, international locations and even continents. That speaks to the potential advantages of organizational effectivity and synergy as a lot because it does maximizing actual property and, nicely, being a quite small startup firm.

Small sure, but additionally very nicely 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 should be an accountant to work out that corners weren’t reduce for the sake of price range. The perfect instance of that is Lucid’s motor unit (under proper), which produces a whopping 670 horsepower and weighs 163 kilos. When considered 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 house.

A part of the packaging trick is its micro differential (under left) that matches inside what would usually be empty house inside the electrical rotor. It’s a stupendous 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 automotive engineers. The motor’s stator is equally as a lot a murals as it’s a piece of equipment, with wires repeatedly weaved collectively in a stupendous lattice harking back to the buildings created by mid-century architect Minoru Yamasaki.

None of this was accomplished 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 house, in output and of the sources wanted to assemble them. Based on 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 supply it.

Oh, and the top result’s an extremely power dense piece of kit. 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 element of all that thrust is the Lucid battery pack array. Every pack is way smaller than these present in a Tesla. Meaning every holds much less power, however Bach signifies there are packaging, cooling and power advantages of smaller packs. The cylindrical battery cells are grouped collectively and positioned atop a steel cooling plate by 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 prime). This plate, together with the pack’s smaller dimension and the one piece of molded plastic housing all of it, makes for an especially sturdy 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 meant to have 18. You see, these 4 further packs within the GT fashions match precisely inside a niche within the total 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 more room behind the entrance seats.

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

“We will kill vary anxiousness,” he mentioned, and topping the 500-mile threshold would certain appear to try this.

Now, having an enormous 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 velocity 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 may energy your home at a price of 19.2 kilowatts of AC. It’s also possible to cost one other electrical automotive ­– the bag containing the surprisingly compact cost twine consists of plug attachments for 120 volts and 240 volts, plus the automotive 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 related 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 rely on third events for issues like inside switches, door handles and even infotainments system, as soon as once more, Lucid stored 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 notably pretty. The leather-based, fake suede and open pore wooden masking most surfaces are top-notch stuff; the textile material featured in two of the 4 inside shade schemes is created from alpaca yarn, and positively exhibits that there’s much more than simply cow pores and skin obtainable to make a automotive’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 automotive that management all the pieces, with 70 of them able to over-the-air updates. The exceptions are for issues like reducing the home windows. Most had 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 crew goals to carry much more of the models in-house sooner or later.

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

Bell was additionally a key determine when it comes to 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 in regards to the one-screen-does-all method of Tesla and Rivian, he posited that it’s actually an method that saves cash, however famous that he didn’t like having to consistently look over to see his velocity and different incessantly wanted data.

 “I need to have the important thing bits of data 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 giant touchscreen under, he’s not improper in saying that the Air’s display screen setup is much less overwhelming than the Mercedes EQS Hyperscreen with its three large 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 in regards to the Lucid Air inside. The touchscreens could have changed most buttons, however they’re situated roughly the place these buttons was. You additionally don’t have to hunt deep into menus, or wade by an immense quantity of selection and customization. Mainly, Lucid makes selections when it comes to structure and the way issues work primarily based 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 may at all times swap issues up if one thing isn’t working, isn’t working in addition to it ought to, or folks 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 automotive. The infotainment display screen’s docked menu icons had been situated on the proper facet of the display screen, which seemed tidy, however meant the buttons are miles away from the motive force. They’re being relocated to the left facet. The opposite subject was associated to the navigation system instructions: the bit that graphically exhibits you the directional arrows of your subsequent flip together with the road title and lane strategies would incessantly be lined up by a search menu aspect (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 actually aren’t distinctive to Lucid – they’ve been a key power and level of differentiation for Tesla. They’re an absolute game-changer, and Bell says that his crew will do its greatest to ensure buyer automobiles are nonetheless supported as they become old, noting fairly accurately {that a} $179,000 automotive is extraordinarily totally 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 means as a high-end watch: these within the know will acknowledge you could have 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 support. Man, that little factor is cool.

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