The ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced Lucid to delay the Air’s introduction from April 2020 until later in the year. While we wait, the company is highlighting the steps it’s taking to fine-tune its first car. Footage shot over the winter shows the electric sedan drifting across a frozen landscape in a snowy part of northern Minnesota.
Lucid explained it took two prototypes to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to ensure the sedan can handle harsh winter conditions with aplomb. The thermometer dropped to -33 Fahrenheit as the tires lost anything resembling traction and the task of keeping the shiny side up was passed on to the numerous electronic driving aids.
“We were testing, calibrating, and validating a range of systems including ABS, traction control, stability control, and motor control. The cold and low-friction environment allows us to push the car and its systems to the limit, so we can tune the vehicle to perform well in all conditions a customer may encounter,” Lucid told Autoblog.
The company added the Air needs to remain composed regardless of whether it’s driving on a frozen lake or soldiering through the desert in the Middle East. That’s every car manufacturer’s goal; winter testing is par for the course when it comes to developing a new car, whether it’s a bargain-priced Dacia Sandero or a 1,500-horsepower Bugatti hypercar. It’s hugely important in this case because every part of the Air is new.
Aimed at the Tesla Model S and the Porsche Taycan, the Air was designed on a blank sheet of paper. Its platform, its lithium-ion battery pack, its electric motors, and all of the other parts that make it move are new. The fact that it’s Lucid’s first car adds a layer of complexity to the project; it doesn’t have decades of experience to draw on. Ramping up production is easier said than done, but it sounds like Lucid isn’t cutting corners.
The firm’s work with Formula E battery packs earned it a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund. The Air’s final specifications haven’t been announced, but CEO Peter Rawlinson (whose resume includes stints at Jaguar, Lotus, and Tesla) hinted a flagship three-motor variant packing up to 1,800 horsepower. The sedan should offer about 400 miles of driving range in its most capable configuration, though that version will come with a six-digit price tag. Cheaper models with smaller batteries and less power will also be available.
Lucid will build the Air in a new facility located on the far outskirts of Phoenix. Motorists who want to secure an early build slot can send the company a refundable $1,000 deposit. Additional details about the sedan, and the company’s plans for follow-up models, will emerge in the coming months. What’s certain is that executives aren’t planning to fizzle out after launching the Air; additional models are already in the pipeline.
“While an SUV is certainly on Lucid’s product roadmap, we developed a sedan as our initial offering because of our overarching goal of targeting the luxury segment, which is largely made up of sedans around the world. We also felt that a sedan platform offers the best aerodynamics and packaging to achieve our goal for industry-leading range and efficiency,” a spokesperson for the company told Autoblog. In other words: stay tuned.