September 24, 2017

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A $100,000 electric car trying to take on Tesla hit a top speed of 235 mph — here’s what you need to know

By Danielle Muoio From Business Insider

Lucid Air: The Lucid Air.Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Lucid Motors, a startup going after Tesla’s grip on the luxury electric car market, said Monday that a prototype of its Lucid Air sedan hit a top speed of 235 mph, crushing the top speed of a Model S (155 mph).

That’s not exactly a fair comparison considering the Lucid prototype was adjusted to go as fast as possible. An actual production version of the car will be electronically limited to hit a more manageable top speed. It will also be heavier, reducing its overall speed capabilities.

But the test, conducted in Ohio with the Transportation Research Center, shows Lucid Motors’ engineers are set on competing with Tesla on speed.

Lucid Motors’ all-electric car was built by the same minds behind the Model S.

Peter Rawlinson, the chief engineer behind the Model S, is the leading force behind the car as Lucid Motors’ CTO. But Rawlinson is flanked by other former Model S engineers as well, like Eric Bach, Tesla’s former director of engineering

In April, I got a ride in the startup’s very first prototype, the Lucid Air. Here’s what it was like:

The Lucid Air starts at $52,500, but the prototype we saw at was fully optioned to include the company’s more luxurious touches: a panoramic sunroof, two rear seats that can recline 55 degrees, and a 29-speaker audio system.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

The car I took a ride in has a range of 315 miles and can produce 1,000 horsepower, Lucid Motors says. It will cost over $100,000, just like the Tesla Model S P100D.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

Lucid Air’s less-expensive base vehicle can produce 400 horsepower and has a range of 240 miles. That means it will compete with the Tesla Model S 75 that starts at $74,500 before tax incentives.

Lucid Motors didn’t let us get behind the wheel because the car is still a prototype. But the startup did take us for a brief ride, albeit in very heavy New York traffic that made it impossible to rev the engine.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

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I didn’t get the chance to experience what it was like to drive the car, but I did get the full passenger experience. Lucid Motors’ Rawlinson told Business Insider that he envisions the car being used for luxury ride-hailing services, like an UberBLACK, so comfort is important.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

I was definitely impressed. The interior is very spacious and offers a ton of legroom, even though the car is narrower than the Model S.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

The seats can recline a full 55 degrees. I’ve never actually been in a car that has let me lay horizontally, but it was easy to see how you could nap in complete comfort in the Lucid Air.

Lucid Motors

A minimalist touchscreen in the center lets passengers in the back control how much the seats recline. You can opt to kick your legs up but still sit upright, or go for the full recline experience. It’s all very simple to manage and the console isn’t intrusive in the slightest.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

The panoramic sunroof also offers spectacular sky views for when you’re lying all the way down. , another Tesla veteran who now works as Lucid’s director of marketing, said the sunroof will tint in production cars to make sure occupants inside don’t get too hot.

Lucid Motors

The back seats will also come with massage capabilities in production cars.

Up front, the Lucid Air comes with a three-screen display system, designed entirely in-house. The displays weren’t fully functioning yet, but the format was very clean, making it easy to navigate the different settings.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

Edson said certain options on the display will disappear when you’re driving to ensure it only shows relevant information. Here, I’m changing the ambient lighting inside the car from a sunny yellow to a calmer violet.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

Here’s another look at the center console. As you can see, it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

The large center console also lets drivers get a comprehensive look at the upcoming routes.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

I also loved the car’s unique look, which is very futuristic but not overly flashy. It has very narrow LED lights and a long hood that make it feel sportier and more fun than a traditional sedan.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

Rawlinson said the car will be capable of rapid charging, but we’ll have to wait for the production version to experience those capabilities. Lucid Motors has yet to release a top speed for a production vehicle, but the recent Ohio test shows it should be able to keep up with a Tesla Model S.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

Lucid Motors was originally a battery company when it was founded as Atieva in 2007 by , a former vice president of Tesla. Its batteries were used in a series of buses in China.

Over time, Lucid Motors has refined and patented its battery tech to the point where it’s more tolerant of rapid charging, meaning the cars will last on the roads longer than competitors, Rawlinson said. But we will have to wait for a production version to experience the car’s rapid charging capabilities.

Like Tesla, all Lucid Air vehicles will be built with self-driving-car hardware that will allow the company to push through autonomous driving features via over-the-air updates. Rawlinson said the company is currently “laser focused” on just producing the car, but is planning to partner with others on its self-driving car software.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

Unlike Tesla, Lucid Motors plans to install lidar, a sensor that uses lasers to create high-definition images of surrounding obstacles. These systems tend to be pricey, so Lucid Motors is currently working on developing its own lidar system in-house to see if it can beat the price offered by suppliers.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

Lucid Motors, however, is also in talks with two unnamed lidar suppliers, so it may not release its own system. The expected price of the cars may change because of the autonomous hardware suite.

“There’s an interesting business model to put that in all options even at that price point even if it means you erode your margin because of the value of data that can accrue,” Rawlinson said. “With all our data collection hardware and actually having the big data, we can partner for the software.”

Autonomous-driving company Mobileye, which was recently acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion, is supplying Lucid Motors with its cameras.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Mobileye used to supply the cameras for Tesla Autopilot, but Tesla dropped the company in July 2016.

If the Lucid Air packs the speed and power Lucid Motors says it’s capable of, it’s easy to see it being a contender in the luxury car space. From a purely design standpoint, this car is sexy, fun, and comfortable. With an expected 315-mile range, there shouldn’t be any range anxiety.

Business Insider/Justin Gmoser

“This is where we go head-to-head unashamedly with Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW,” Rawlinson said. “Those are the key competitor cars for this market… [and] that marketplace is worth $100 billion a year.

Lucid Motors’ success will largely hinge on it completing its manufacturing facility on time, generating excitement for the brand, and executing on its raw specs.

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Lucid Motors is building a manufacturing facility in Casa Grande, Arizona in the to begin producing the Lucid Air at the end of 2018.

“I’m a product guy. I passionately believe if you have a good product, it will sell,” Rawlinson said.

For more on this story and video go to: http://www.businessinsider.com/lucid-air-electric-car-top-speed-record-2017-7?utm_source=feedburner&amp%3Butm_medium=referral&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+businessinsider+%28Business+Insider%29/#lucid-motors-success-will-largely-hinge-on-it-completing-its-manufacturing-facility-on-time-generating-excitement-for-the-brand-and-executing-on-its-raw-specs-19

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