Luxurious Lucid Air Electric Sedan Boasts 520-Mile Range

The ultra-luxury car has big power, long range, and cutting-edge features

Lucid Air
Lucid Air
Photo: Lucid

Lucid Motors, based in Silicon Valley, claims the honor of selling the first electric car with an EPA-estimated range of over 500 miles, with its $169,000 Lucid Air Dream Edition R. That 933-hp version of its upcoming Air sedan, when fitted with 19-inch wheels, is rated at 520 miles. And it is sold out, with no plans to make any more. 

But there are several other, less exclusive versions available. The Dream Edition Performance and Grand Touring trims have a range of 469 to 516 miles, depending on wheel fitment.

Priced in the ultra-luxury segment that is home to the BMW 7 SeriesMercedes-Benz EQS, and Tesla Model S, the Lucid Air electric sedan will compete based on power, range, and opulence.

The automaker announced plans that follow what has become a trend for startup electric car companies: Launch with a premium, high-dollar sedan, follow with an SUV, and then roll out more affordable models. For now, the elite Air takes aim at the $100,000 club, where established players are competing for slices of a small sales pie.

Lucid Motors enters the fray with a platform, battery, motor, and electronics that were designed in-house, all with an emphasis on compact design. This strategy has enabled some packaging efficiencies, and company officials say that these core technologies were developed to enable cost-effective mass production.

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The Lucid Air will be offered in multiple versions, spanning a wide price range. Manufacturing began in fall 2021 and was initially focused on producing the flagship Dream Edition. Lucid says that sold-out $169,000 dual-motor model has up to 1,111 hp and all-wheel drive. Lucid offers the Air in white, black, and gold paint, and with a panoramic roof. The company says Lucid Air will be followed by the $87,400 Air Pure, $107,400 Air Touring, and $154,000 Air Grand Touring. None of them are eligible for the federal tax credits.

The company currently has 21 retail stores open, with the majority on the West Coast, as well as an online configuration and order system. Reservations for the Air Pure are $300, while the Touring and Grand Touring are $1,000.

Here’s what we know so far about the Lucid Air.

What it competes with: BMW i7Cadillac LyriqPorsche TaycanMercedes-Benz EQSTesla Model S
What it looks like: A smooth luxury sedan with a flat back and contrasting top.
Powertrain: 480 hp or 620 hp from a single electric motor; 800 hp, 933 hp, 1,050 hp, or 1,111 hp from dual electric motors; 1-speed direct drive; all-wheel drive
Range: Between 406 and 516 miles, depending on powertrain
Price: $87,400 to $170,000
On-sale date: Now

CR's Take

While Lucid Motors has begun delivering its initial cars, the Air Dream Edition, it still is much about promise. At this stage, it is reminiscent of Tesla when it launched the Model S—taking on the establishment as an innovative disruptor. Starting a car company that can survive is an extremely difficult feat. But again, Tesla has demonstrated that it can be done with the right product, breakthrough engineering, and rapid expansion.

It is easy to admire the technology and concepts presented for the Lucid Air, particularly on the safety front and also considering its advanced onboard electric system. We are cautiously optimistic about the car, but the company’s long-term prospects will be determined by buyers’ willingness to spend big money on products from an unproven company and the more affordable models to come.

Outside

The smooth exterior serves as a key contributor to the Air’s efficiency. Lucid claims it has a 0.21 coefficient of drag, which would make it one of the world’s most aerodynamic luxury cars. That is a super-low number, and it is just behind the Mercedes-Benz EQS, which has a claimed drag coefficient value of 0.201. Those numbers may not mean much to the casual car shopper; it is a calculation based on wind tunnel testing that shows both cars slip through the air far easier than almost any other production car on the planet, even besting the Toyota Prius, a hybrid known to define efficiency.

Chasing that distinction, and the benefits in range and reduced wind noise that come with it, has led to the Lucid Air looking a bit less exciting than the price tag might have one expect. To achieve that goal, every surface, both top and bottom, has to be smoothed to direct airflow and minimize wind resistance. Examples can be seen in the accompanying photos, with the retracting door handles and windshield that flows right into the roof. That aero efficiency is a key factor in achieving the impressive range.

The front and rear styling is dominated by wide horizontal lighting. (The company claims this is the largest taillight ever used on a production car.) The body is further differentiated by a contrasting roof, akin to what has been seen on some SUVs in recent years. These elements will make the Lucid Air visually stand out from its direct competitors.

Lucid Air
The Lucid Air is among the world's most aerodynamic cars.

Photo: Lucid Photo: Lucid

Inside

The cabin has two distinct areas: Lucid representatives said that the front is trimmed to feel sporty with darker hues, while the back seat is brighter and more relaxing. Both spaces feature high-end trim elements, with a special emphasis on textures.

There is a massive, curved 34-inch floating display ahead of the driver, and a large center console display that retracts to open up storage space. Beyond the touch screens, native Alexa integration enables voice control for entertainment, navigation, and home controls.

Lucid Air dash
The Lucid Air's dashboard is dominated by the curved 34-inch display.

Photo: Lucid Photo: Lucid

The back seat will be a three-across bench configuration at launch, with reclining executive seats for two available in the future.

Dimensions have not been shared yet, but digital cutaway images show how the compact mechanicals help maximize space. This includes enabling the largest front trunk on the market, according to Lucid.

The car looks like a hatchback, but it features an odd trunk lid that opens almost like a small hatch to what appears to be a cavernous space.

Lucid Air interior
The roomy rear seat of the Lucid Air can fit three adults.

Photo: Lucid Photo: Lucid

What Drives It

The Lucid Air is powered by two electric motors in the first versions built, with a three-motor version promised to follow. The Dream Edition Performance, which is sold out, produces up to 1,111 hp. All that power enables the car to rocket 0-60 mph in just 2.5 seconds and cross the quarter-mile in under 10 seconds, according to Lucid. Those motors are energized with a 113-kWh, lithium-ion battery pack. 

The Air Pure has a projected range of 406 miles, makes 480 hp, and is offered as a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive version that is due to arrive at a later date, or a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive version that is available now.

The Air Touring uses dual motors for AWD, produces 620 hp, and has a claimed range of 406 miles. The Air Grand Touring, which also has AWD from two motors, is offered with a choice of powertrains. The regular version has 819 hp, while the Grand Touring Performance delivers a maximum of 1,050 hp. While far from slow, the Grand Touring’s 0-to-60 mph time of 3.0 seconds is eclipsed by that of the Performance version, which is claimed to take 2.6 seconds. That performance comes at the expense of range. The Grand Touring has a range of up to 516 miles, while the Performance is limited to 446 miles.

Lucid credits the large range figures to lessons learned over 20 million real-world development miles and from supplying batteries through its subsidiary Atieva to the Formula E electric-car racing series since 2018.

The Lucid Air relies on a 900-volt electric architecture, enabling the car to charge quickly, taking on 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes, using DC fast chargers. For contrast, the most common Tesla V2 superchargers can restore 50 percent of the battery capacity in 30 minutes for the Long Range versions of the Model 3, S, and X—about 160 to 200 miles in a half-hour.

The 19.2-kW onboard charger is said to be compatible with most public charging, including the growing 350-kW, Level 3 fast-charging network. The car will come with three years of free, unlimited charging with the Electrify America 350-kW network.

All versions come with a mobile charging cord that can be used in any wall outlet. The company will offer its own bi-directional home charging station that can charge the car at off-peak times, and it can use the car to provide temporary power to the house during a power outage. (The company is also developing home and business battery-based energy storage solutions.)

Lucid Air Driver console
The Lucid Air's lower, center-mounted screen for navigation and other functions.

Photo: Lucid Photo: Lucid

Safety and Driver Assistance Systems

Lucid’s platform for the advanced driver assist systems is called DreamDrive. It incorporates an array of familiar-sounding safety features, but beneath the tech is a sophisticated setup that goes well beyond the norm. It uses an Ethernet-based communication, with built-in redundancies, and a sensor suite that includes lidar—an advanced laser-based radar system often considered too expensive for passenger cars. (Lidar is often used on prototype self-driving cars to “see” the world in higher detail than other sensors would allow.) This is among the 32 total sensors for ADAS features, along with camera, radar, and ultrasonic.

The company is working on limited autonomous driving capabilities. As with Tesla vehicles, the Lucid Air will be able to receive over-the-air updates and gain new sophistication and features over time, adding to its capabilities.

The core safety features include automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic warning. Driver monitoring will be on the lookout for distracted or drowsy driving. 

Assists include traffic sign recognition, warning if stop-and-go traffic has resumed movement, and full-speed highway assist that combines adaptive cruise control and lane centering systems to provide limited autonomous driving. There are also various parking features to help when the trip has ended.


Jeff S. Bartlett

A New England native, I have piloted a wide variety of vehicles, from a Segway to an aircraft carrier. All told, I have driven thousands of vehicles—many on race tracks across the globe. Today, that experience and passion are harnessed at the CR Auto Test Center to empower consumers. And if some tires must be sacrificed in the pursuit of truth, so be it. Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSBartlett).