In an interview with Digital Trends in June, Peter Rawlinson, CEO of Lucid Motors, revealed his passion for making efficient electric cars. “What I want to do is create the most range with the smallest battery pack,” Rawlinson says. “There’s dumb range and there’s smart range. Dumb range is stuffing a huge battery pack into the car. There’s talk of one company having a 180-kWh battery pack. That would literally weigh a ton. So you’ve got this extra weight, the extra space the pack takes up, and the extra cost, which gets passed onto the customer.
“Then you get this vicious circle, because the car is heavier, so the suspension has to be beefed up, the brakes have to be bigger, and that creates yet more weight. So then you have to add more [battery] cells. For every extra hundred cells you put in the car, you need a couple of cells to have the energy to propel those other hundred.”
It looks as though Rawlinson, who was directly involved in getting the Model S into production when he worked for Tesla, may have gotten his wish. Recently the company sent a pre-production Lucid Air to FEV North America for independent testing. That company is a leading provider of engineering services to the auto industry and is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. There the car was put through the standard range testing protocol.
“We expected a remarkable result,” the company says in a press release. “And their exhaustive process confirmed our computer modeling. Following the official EPA standard testing procedure, they verified an estimated EPA range of 517 miles on a single charge. This new benchmark confirms the Lucid Air as the longest range electric vehicle to date.”
The Secret Sauce
That is a remarkable achievement. The Tesla Model S now carries an EPA range rating of 402 miles. The Lucid Air beats that by over 100 miles. How did Lucid pull that off? “The answer is Lucid’s proprietary technology,” the company says, “along with careful engineering of every aspect of the Air’s performance and efficiency. Starting with the in-house development of an industry-leading drivetrain, Lucid miniaturized and integrated the Air’s motors, transmission, and inverter, and paired this with an ultra-high, 900+ volt architecture to achieve unmatched compactness and efficiency.”
Peter Rawlinson adds, “I believe that our 900-volt architecture, our race-proven battery packs, miniaturized motors and power electronics, integrated transmission systems, aerodynamics, chassis and thermal systems, software, and overall system efficiency have now reached a stage where they collectively set a new standard and deliver a host of world’s firsts.”
The battery packs for the Lucid Air have been developed and refined over 10 years and 20 million miles of real world driving. The company, which was originally known as Atieva, has been the exclusive supplier of battery packs for the Formula E racing series since 2018 and will continue to supply battery packs to the series through 2022. The result for the Lucid Air is a battery system that provides unparalleled safety, performance, and energy density. “Such exceptional efficiency, achieved through in-house technology, is undeniably a measure of a true EV tech company,” says Rawlinson.
The company’s factory in Arizona is getting closer to completion and the production version of the Lucid Air is scheduled to take place on September 9. It is reported to be more luxurious than the Tesla Model S, with prices starting at $60,000 for the base car, which is expected to have a range of 400 miles. Final specs and prices will be announced on September 9 or shortly thereafter.