Ahead of Next Month’s Official Car Launch, Lucid Previews Technology Advances
The official reveal of the new Lucid Air EV is still almost a month away, but the company seems determined to make sure everyone knows quite a bit of important facts about it before then. This week we learned that the Air should get up to 517 miles of range on a single charge of its battery pack—and that the extended range is not merely a matter of packing more batteries in the car.
That followed another recent announcement of the details of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that would be on the model, which debuts on Sept. 9 and will go on sale next year. Lucid will bundle its extensive ADAS under the brand DreamDrive. The hardware foundation of DreamDrive is 32 multimodal sensors that include cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors as well as long-distance, high-resolution lidar. At launch Lucid promises to deliver full Level 2 autonomous driving, where the drive can take hands off the wheel but must be prepared to take over whenever the system requires. Future software updates are promised to upgrade the system further, as has been the case with Tesla.
Before those announcements, Lucid released a partial list of the 20 sales studios and service locations that would be the initial market target for its performance electric car, which is expected to start at around $60,000, though that may not be for the 500+-mile range version.
The initial sales locations, where you’ll be able to order a Lucid Air direct from the manufacturer:
- Silicon Valley Studio: Lucid’s Global Headquarters in Newark, California
- Los Angeles Studios: 9022 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California, and Westfield Century City in Century City, California
- Los Angeles Service Center: 9022 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California
- San Jose Studio: Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose, California
- Miami Studio: Brickell City Centre in Miami, Florida
- West Palm Beach Studio: Rosemary Square in West Palm Beach, Florida
- New York City Studio: Meatpacking District in New York, New York
- DC Metro Studio: Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, Virginia
Getting To Massive Range
Lucid’s CEO Peter Rawlinson unveiled some of the details of how his car was able to break through to a here-to-fore unseen range. It starts with a car designed to slip through the air with minimal disruption. The coefficient of drag (Cd) for the Air is 0.21, besting the new Porsche Taycan (0.22) and Tesla Model S (0.24).
While the battery pack is large (130 kilowatt-hours [kWh]for the large pack and 100 kWh for the smaller one), Rawlinson said the 900-volt architecture of the system is one of the keys:
“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,’” said Rawlinson.
Validation of the 517-mile range was done at FEV North America’s labs in Auburn Hills, Michigan, following official EPA test protocols. The testing by the well-known automotive supplier confirmed estimates Lucid had generating with computer modeling.
The combination of an ultra-high voltage system with miniaturized and integrated components, helped boost range as well. The process to get to the production version dates dates back 10 years and includes 20 million real-world miles of testing. Lucid also credits its affiliation with the Formula E race series, where it supplies battery packs with helping to accelerate development.
Driving Like a Dream
Lucid showed off its self-driving system the first time its cars were show to the media and has clearly continued to refine the technology. It’s taken a different approach than Tesla, which focuses on a camera-based system, by include an extensive number and variety of sensors to gather and analyze data. The company says it will be the first production car to incorporate lidar into its system as standard equipment.
Lucid says its DreamDrive package will also include a driver-monitoring system to keep drivers involved, even when they don’t have their hands on the wheel. The Lucid Air will include 19 safety, driving and parking assist features at launch—and follow up with eight further features via over-the-air updates at a later date.
At launch, the Lucid Air will include:
- Surround View Monitoring
- Blind Spot Display
- Cross Traffic Protection
- Traffic Sign Recognition
- Automatic Emergency Braking
- Alerts for distracted or drowsy drivers
- Full Speed Highway Assist (Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering)
- Traffic Drive-Off Alert
- Headlight Assist
- Autonomous Parking Assist
- Pullout Control
- Maneuver Comfort Braking
Lucid’s ADAS system is built on a high-speed ethernet ring electric architecture, which also serves as a fully redundant platform for key functions like steering, brakes and sensors, using independent power sources and communications paths, fail-operational actuators and fault-tolerant computation.
A Studio Not a Dealership
All of Lucid’s studios will feature a California-inspired aesthetic where visitors can explore the Lucid Air’s advanced technology in a “warm atmosphere of natural, sustainable materials.” Like Tesla’s design studios, the emphasis is on engagement as much as sales.
Lucid said it will set up personalized service for owners from its service team. A nationwide network of service centers, mobile service providers and certified collision repair centers will be linked to Lucid’s centralized customer care group to address anything that cannot be remotely diagnosed and repaired.
We’ll know more September 9, such as production specifications and pricing, but this preview indicates Lucid will be fielding a long-range, tech-heavy competitive electric sedan when it hits the market in 2021.
Story by Michael Coates; photos and video from the manufacturer.
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