Emerging EV startup Lucid has dealt another slap to rival Tesla following independent battery range testing, that demonstrates its imminent Air luxury sedan will go significantly further on a single charge than the Model S Long Range.
Slated for a US launch early next month, the Lucid Air will be positioned in terms of price, specification and performance similarly to Tesla’s Model S, but range testing by global vehicle development specialist FEV (to an EPA-certified standard) has revealed a significant advantage over its fellow Californian EV.
While the Tesla Model S Long Range has previously clocked a maximum range of 647km (the furthest in EPA testing), the Lucid Air has now smashed that result with a figure of 832km.
The announcement follows confirmation that the Lucid is also more slippery than the Tesla with a drag coefficient of 0.21Cd vs the Model S’s 0.23Cd.
All of this has unsurprisingly provoked Tesla founder Elon Musk into a dismissive response in which he claims the new Roadster model (expected next year) will manage 1000km on a single charge.
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While it’s highly likely that the EV leader has developed more efficient drivetrains with boosted range, let us not forget that the company also claims it will deliver level-five autonomous capability inside this year…
Lucid’s news comes during the same week a trio of Hyundai Kona Electrics set a range record of their own, travelling more than 1000km on a single charge, although the test in Germany was under very different circumstances to the Lucid result.
While the Konas were driven at an average 29 - 31km/h to simulate city traffic and, by no coincidence, the most efficient driving speed for an EV, the Lucid was subjected to the more scientific (and real world) method as laid out by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
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The Multi Cycle Test (MCT) from the SAE J1634 standard requires electric vehicles to be driven on a rolling road and subjects them to a series of driving cycles that simulates day-to-day use most drivers would subject their vehicle to.
Some may point out that the reported range is ‘estimated’ and therefore irrelevant but the terminology is used to reflect that, although full-cycle testing of the battery has been conducted, it is carried out on a rolling road.
The estimated figure therefore, refers to real-world range which would vary as it is a far less scientific or controllable system. That said, the process is similar to the new WLTP assessment of vehicles which has proven to be an accurate method and is the same testing used to produce Tesla’s range figure.
Is Lucid dreaming?
While it might not get the attention of the world’s biggest EV manufacturer Tesla, that may not remain the case for long and, like fellow Californian start-up, Lucid has been many years in the making.
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With its first model already in production and ready launch on September 9, the company is about to unleash its assault, but this story actually starts in 2007 when the company was founded as Atieva with initial plans to only develop batteries and powertrains for other manufacturers.
At a point along the way, it decided its technology was too good to share and it was renamed Lucid Motors in 2016, along with the announcement it would join the electric revolution with its own car. As a testament to the Lucid battery quality, it’s the unit supplied to Formula E teams.
More recently, Lucid Motors acquired Peter Rawlinson, the former vice principle of technology at, you guessed it, Tesla. And the sleek design of its Air was the work of Derek Jenkins former head of Mazda North America design.
As for funding, like its arch rival, the company is not scared of investing serious amounts of cash. A billion US dollars was raised to develop the Air, which followed initial investments of $US131m for its formation ($A181m) and another $US700m ($A970m) to build its Arizona vehicle factory.
The model that will silently roll into history next month is powered by a pair of electric motors (one on each axle) for a combined total of 736kW. Yes, you read that correctly. Acceleration to 100km/h from rest is therefore a correspondingly mind bending 2.5 seconds or thereabouts.
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All other critical details are being withheld until the big reveal, but you’ll only have to wait three weeks.