What name has five letters, two syllables, two vowels and is associated with an exciting all electric passenger car? Those entering the Javits Center for the New York International Auto Show quickly found out. As near to the entrances as propriety would allow were two working examples of the Lucid electric vehicle: a mid size sedan with an interior whose size and appointments would rival an S class Mercedes and a similarly shaped racer with full roll cage and dust, dirt, and dings from a recently accomplished 217 mph run at an Ohio test track.
Lucid is the evolution of Atieva, a developer of batteries and electric drivetrains, started in 2007 by Sam Weng, Sheaupyng Lin, and former Tesla board member, Bernard Tse. A significant addition in 2013 was Peter Rawlinson who had done stints at Jaguar, Lotus, and Corus Automotive prior to being Chief Engineer on the Tesla Model S. Former Mazda North America Director of Design Derek Jenkins came aboard in 2015.
Funding for the vehicle project was achieved in 2014, and in December 2016 working prototypes of the Lucid Air were revealed to the public. The first 255 cars will be secured with a $25,500 deposit. These will be a luxury edition with special badging, 21-inch wheels, an upgraded interior and a 100 kilowatt-hour battery with a 315 mile range. Estimated price will be greater than $100,000.
The base model can be reserved with a $2500 retainer. It will have power front seats, a rear bench seat, four screens including three touchscreens, a 10 speaker sound system, an opaque aluminum roof, 19 inch wheels and a 400 hp rear engine. Its range will be 240 miles and a sticker price of $60,000 is anticipated.
The present planned ultimate iteration will have such luxury amenities as an electrochromatic roof (think Ferrari 575 Superamerica), a 29 speaker audio system, advanced multi-lense array LED headlights, all wheel drive with a 400 horsepower front and 600 horsepower rear drive motor, and a range of 400 miles. Stated 0 to 60 time is under 2.5 seconds. Expect active suspension as well. (Rawlinson is an ex Lotus engineer.)
All cars will be built with the hardware to allow autonomous driving. All deposit monies will be sequestered and fully refundable.
What is new and different about the Lucid? Design engineer Jenkins suggests that it was built from the inside out. Its smaller electric motors allow for a large scale luxury interior in a midsize car. There will be ample storage space front and rear.
Rawlinson emphasizes the progress in lithium ion battery technology. Lucid has teamed with Samsung SDI to develop a cylindrical electrochemical cell with a proprietary chemistry which has made it more tolerant to repetitive fast charge. Their glycol and water based coolant system enables a 15% increase in cell packaging density as compared to others currently available. The combination extends battery life and increases efficiency. Rawlinson informs that typical batteries lose 25% of their capacity after approximately 100 fast charges. The Lucid unit percentage degradation was in the single digits after similar stress.
Lucid's next hurdle is series D funding. It will take approximately $240 million to get up and running at their Casa Grande, Arizona site. A total investment of $700 million will be required. Vehicle delivery is anticipated in 2019.
Mark Moskowitz MD is a retired surgeon, racer, and car collector. He is director and curator of The Museum of Automobile History, manages the estate of renowned automotive artist, Carlo Demand, serves on the board of directors of Carolina Motorsports Park and is Vice Chairman of the Board of directors of The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He is a frequent contributor to multiple motoring publications and in the past 12 months, Dr. Moskowitz has been privileged to judge Concours events at Boca Raton, Pinehurst, Hershey (the Elegance), Cobble Beach, Hilton Head, Santa Fe, La Jolla, and Scottsdale.