I must admit that I’m mildly obsessed with Lucid Motors. The new American EV brand is making big waves in the automotive world by offering Tesla levels of battery range and performance but with better technology and sexier styling. Lucid recently released the online configurator for its first upcoming car — the Lucid Air — and the entry-level model seems like an outstanding value.
Starting at $69,900 (after tax credits), the Lucid Air Pure — the entry-level model — packs a very healthy 480 horsepower and 406 miles of range. It must be said that the range is just Lucid’s claimed range and not its EPA-tested range, so that’s subject to change. However, the range for BMW’s iX is just a claimed range as well, so that’s all we can go by at the moment. Plus, Lucid’s execs are extremely confident that their claimed ranges will match the EPA’s tested ranges.
Considering that Lucid has been one of the developers for Formula E battery packs, there’s a good chance that the California-based manufacturer knows a thing or two about battery development. It also seems to know a thing or two about charging. Thanks to its 900-volt electrical architecture, the Air can charge up to 300 miles in just 20 minutes. Of course, there’s a caveat — to get that insanely fast charging speed, you need to use a 350 kWh DC fast charger, which is near-impossible to find at the moment. Admittedly, Lucid will sell you one for you home, called the “Wunderbox”, so you can take advantage of that blistering charging speed at home, even if you can’t out on the road.
Still, with 406 miles of range, you’re not likely to ever need to charge outside of your home. And if you can afford a $70,000 electric car, you can likely afford the Wunderbox. The Lucid Air is also the only car that can charge that quickly and it isn’t just down to its 350 kW charging speed. Tesla is working on that speed as well, however its chargers can only reach that peak speed for a very short amount of time. The Lucid Air is capable of 350 kWh for longer, hence the shorter charge time, due to advanced thermal battery management. Essentially, Lucid can keep its batteries cooler as they charge, so they can charge faster for longer.
Compare that charging speed to the BMW iX’s 150 kW charging and the Bavarian seems seriously behind the times. Not only is does the iX charge slower but it has 100 fewer miles of range, with around the same power but costing $30,000 more. The BMW iX’s flagship specs; 300 miles of range and 500 horsepower, are only going to be available on the top-shelf, six-figure car. The iX that will cost around BMW X5-money (between $60,000-$70,000) is going to have around 250 miles and 350 horsepower. So the Lucid will be the better value.
Admittedly, in BMW’s defense, its upcoming i4 will be a bit closer to the Air in terms of both its spec sheet and its body style, while also coming in at a lower price. Expect the BMW i4 to start somewhere around $50,000 but will only have a range of around 250 miles. While that’s an inferior range, the i4 is likely going to come in at around $20,000 cheaper than the Lucid Air, so its value proposition evens out a bit.
Still, the Lucid Air packs a more advanced electrical architecture and faster charging. Also, and this is entirely subjective, the Lucid looks better. It has a classic retro-futuristic French car look that I really like and its interior also looks very slick and modern.
While BMW, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen all try and take down Tesla, it seems that Lucid might be lobbing a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans. This new Air seems like a seriously impressive EV for a reasonable price.