Again in 2017, I bought my first face-to-face encounter with a Lucid Air, when the startup electrical vehicle-maker introduced one in every of its early prototypes to Washington, DC. Its EV mixed distinctive styling with some progressive packaging, with the technical group being led by a CTO who can depend being the Tesla Mannequin S’ chief engineer amongst his CV highlights.
Lucid’s timeline might need slipped somewhat from the unique plan—buyers are a lot much less reticent about placing their cash into EV startups than they had been in 2017, after which the pandemic occurred—however it’s on observe to start deliveries of the Air later this yr. And on Sunday, I used to be lucky sufficient to go for a journey in one of many firm’s present prototypes to see how issues have modified.
From the surface, the Air seems to be like little else in the marketplace. It is a easy form, with a comparatively lengthy hood and a brief trunk, accented by the polished aluminum pillars that body the glasshouse. Superficially it seems to be a lot the identical as after I first noticed it, however most of the particulars have modified alongside the best way to what might be a class-leading drag coefficient of simply 0.21.
“It is an attention-grabbing package deal, as a result of the automobile is definitely bodily smaller than a Porsche Taycan in size, and smaller than Tesla Mannequin S, consider it or not. And but, we managed to get [Mercedes-Benz] S Class legroom within the rear. And that is actually our technique: extra compact, agile, a younger automobile on the surface. However nonetheless, who does not need tons of area? However I believe that is a reasonably universally interesting commerce,” Derek Jenkins, Lucid’s SVP of Design and Model, instructed me.
Glass Cockpit and the Pilot Panel
The modifications to the inside are rather more apparent, beginning with the curved show (referred to as the Glass Cockpit) in entrance of the motive force that replaces three separate screens that had been arrayed in the identical area. “As we transfer in direction of manufacturing, the expertise developed so quick, we had the chance to go along with a curvature,” Jenkins instructed me. “And the advantage of that’s, it contours the display. So in the event you had been to make use of a sweep of your eye, it is equidistant all the best way [from one corner of the display to the other], and actually good for attain and simply will get a really seamless look,” he stated.
The Air’s Glass Cockpit is freed from a binnacle or hood, one thing we have additionally seen on the Taycan; enhancements in anti-glare coatings in addition to elevated brightness make that attainable, in keeping with Jenkins.
The Human-Machine Interface is crisp and readable with out being needlessly flashy—a bit like the remainder of the Air. On the left of the Glass Cockpit show are automobile controls, just like the lights, windshield wipers, and defrosters. The middle of the 34-inch display is a minimalist predominant instrument show the place you will see your pace and vary. Infotainment capabilities reside on the suitable of the Glass Cockpit.
There’s additionally a second display on the middle console, referred to as the Pilot Panel. You possibly can swipe menus from the Glass Cockpit to the Pilot Panel, at which level they increase, and it is also right here the place you work together with issues just like the seat settings. In a intelligent contact, the iPad-like Pilot Panel can retract into the console, offering entry to a storage cubby behind it.
One other instantly apparent change is the again bench seat, which replaces the pair of reclining seats we noticed within the early prototype. Whereas they had been undoubtedly flashy, US prospects principally desire a rear bench, and so these recliners are nonetheless a piece in progress as Jenkins’ group refines the packaging.
Gosh, it is quick
Lucid is not fairly able to let me behind the wheel of an Air—anticipate that later this summer season—however I did get to expertise it from the entrance passenger seat as Jenkins drove us round Amelia Island for about half-hour.
The prototype was configured because the Grand Touring model of the Air; this has a pair of electrical motors with a mixed 800 hp (597 kW) and a spread of 517 miles (813 km). And sure, it looks like every a type of horses (or watts) was current and proper. This can be a severely quick EV, with a 0-60 mph time of three seconds (though Jenkins says he is rather more happy with how shortly it could possibly speed up from 40 mph in comparison with the competitors). And it isn’t even the quickest model—that honor goes to the 1,080 hp (805 kW) Dream Version.
Journey consolation was good, and whereas the Air makes the low-speed pedestrian noises all EVs are required to make, none is piped into the cabin. Which means using in an Air is a principally calm and serene expertise, not less than till the motive force flooring the throttle, that’s.
After my first encounter again in 2017, I used to be impressed with how well-resolved the Air was. Regardless of being an alpha prototype, all the things I poked or prodded labored, together with the three screens and their UI. However the automobile I rode on this previous weekend felt like an enormous step past that in each regard. Proper now Lucid is constructing a batch of 70 preproduction vehicles, with one other run of 100 that, amongst different issues, might be used for PR and advertising and marketing. And I am unable to let you know how curious I’m to drive a type of.
Itemizing picture by Jonathan Gitlin