Ask who is the US-based automotive manufacturer that produces the most potent range of electric vehicles (EVs) on the market and most will likely say Tesla, but in fact that title is held by another more recent start-up, boasting former Tesla top brass amongst its management.
Lucid Motors states proudly that it builds “the longest range, fastest-charging luxury electric car in the world,” and considering its Air saloon hits 62mph in under three seconds, will go more than 500 miles before needing plugging in, and recharge much faster than typical rivals, it has a point.
Lucid is a car maker with big ambitions – an even more potent Air with three motors instead of two, an SUV with similar supercar levels of performance, and annual production of around half a million vehicles. This is a company that could be seriously gunning for Tesla’s EV number-one status.
So who or what is Lucid?
The company that became Lucid was launched in 2007 in America under the name Atieva, by Bernard Tse, who had previously been vice-president of Tesla. Initially, Atieva made batteries for EVs and powertrains for other vehicle manufacturers.
In 2013, the company scored a major coup by signing up Peter Rawlinson. A renowned engineer in the automotive industry, Rawlinson had previously headed the engineering teams at Jaguar and Lotus, before in 2010 becoming another attracted by the Tesla dollar where he oversaw the engineering of the Model S, Tesla’s breakout model that really put Elon Musk’s company on the map (and still in production today). Initially taking on the role of chief technology officer at Lucid, Rawlinson became the company’s CEO in 2019.
Atieva was renamed Lucid Motors in 2016, when the company announced plans to create its own car, a performance luxury EV, in a brand-new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona. Bold plans for the $700 million plant included an initial output of 20,000 cars a year, rising to 130,000 at which point it would be redesigned to boost annual production to 380,000 – that’s a lot of EVs…
Lucid also proved adept at attracting investment, allowing construction of the factory to start in late 2019 – the first examples of the new car, named the Lucid Air, started coming off the Arizona production line in September 2021.
While that 380,000 planned annual production might seem ambitious, Lucid is looking even higher – a second international factory is planned in Saudi Arabia building another 150,000 vehicles a year, possibly influenced by the Saudi Government announcing it will buy at least 50,000 and possibly as many as 100,000 Lucid vehicles over ten years.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Aston Martin has announced a deal with Lucid which will see the US manufacturer supply the electrical hardware and batteries for Aston’s planned future range of EVs.
When will Lucid launch in the UK?
Watch this space… Lucid definitely has plans for UK sales with right-hand-drive vehicles, and its one current model, the Air, has appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Suggestions as to exactly when those sales will start keep being made, and then changed, but we are told that UK buyers attracted to Lucid’s models will be able to start putting their money down in 2024. Other than that, we don’t have any information as to when we’ll see Lucid cars on UK roads.
What models does Lucid have and what else is coming?
There’s just one Lucid model on the market at present, the Air. This comes in three main varieties, the Pure, Touring and Grand Touring, with prices starting from around $78,000 in the US.
These are no EV slouches. The single-motor Pure’s electrics give it the equivalent of 430hp, which sees it through 62mph from rest in 4.5 seconds with up to 410 miles between charges. And Lucid’s charging technology allows that battery to be replenished at a rate that adds 200 miles in just 15 minutes.
The Touring has two motors, which cut the 62mph sprint to 3.4 seconds and two minutes from the charging time, while also adding 15 miles to the range. And the Grand Touring hits 62mph in 3.0 seconds, thanks to its battery which at 113kWh is the largest in any car giving it a range between charges of, wait for it… 512 miles… And it takes just 12 minutes to replenish 200 miles’ worth of energy.
While that sounds impressive, we’re told that a new and even more potent version of the Air is on the way. Three electric motors will produce a combined 1,600hp, putting the car into hypercar territory with 0-62mph times of under two seconds.
Meanwhile, Rawlinson has revealed plans for a Lucid SUV, the Gravity, due to be unveiled in November 2023 as a rival to the Tesla Model X – we are promised that this too will offer “supercar levels of performance”. And Lucid aims to follow the Gravity with a rival to the Tesla Model 3 saloon, revealing it by 2025.
Where can I try a Lucid car?
Nowhere in the UK, at present. Currently the best way to experience a Lucid is to go to the USA, although the company has opened ‘retail studios’ in Munich, Germany and Norway.
UK sales are not likely to commence until the second half of 2024, and Britain is likely to be in the second phase of an extensive launch across Europe.
What’s different about this company?
Lucid has put its electric vehicle hardware expertise into many areas, not least electric motorsport.
Working with McLaren Applied Technologies, Lucid has been supplying the battery packs for the cars of the FIA ‘s single-seater electric international racing series, Formula E, and the third-generation cars of what is now a world championship now use Lucid electric motors too.
On first hearing the name Lucid, it sounds like one of those start-up ideas with boldly stated ambitions that will never happen.
But once you learn what the company has already achieved, both in the sheer potency of its product, and the major interest being attracted to sell that product to, it becomes clear that this is a manufacturer that could easily get very big indeed – Tesla watch out, a big rival is coming up fast in your rear-view mirror…
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