The 2023 Lucid car (Air) is one of the few that has really stood out when it comes to luxury sedans, It has an enormous battery and surprisingly small motors, both of which were developed in-house and contribute to its unparalleled range and performance. The Grand Touring Performance variant accelerates to 60 mph in only 2.6 seconds and has an EPA-estimated driving range of 516 miles when driven conservatively. That’s enough of electrons to send you from Boston to Baltimore and back again. What’s more, it exceeds the range of any other electric vehicle on the market.
After years of being compared unfavorably to Tesla‘s boom-and-bust success, traditional manufacturers have resorted to a protective refrain: “Just wait.”
The pitch is that once these sleeping Atlases wake up off the mat, they will flood stores with electric cars, closing the gap with Tesla, which reported 936,000 sales globally in 2021.
However, two California companies, Lucid Air and Rivian R1T Truck, have recently started deploying the most important new EVs of the last year. A century and a half of expertise in making internal combustion vehicles may not amount to much. Not in an age when cars are being automated and transformed, and young drivers aren’t usually impressed by established brands and practices.
Take into account Lucid’s creator, Peter Rawlinson; he was the scientific mind behind Tesla’s game-changing Model S, and you can see which business has the most appropriate institutional expertise.
His institution’s superior in-house technology and all-electric strategy are on full display in the record-breaking 520-mile driving range he wrung out of the air. Mercedes, which plans to offer an EQ portfolio alongside conventional gasoline cars, will have to satisfy two distinct clienteles while remaining in good standing with government agencies. It has to create a new automobile company that will eventually replace the old one. The most astute of legacy leavers would struggle to crack that nut.
Mr. Rawlinson said that maintaining fuel cash cows presents a dilemma for established manufacturers. However, electric uncertainty is being washed away very quickly.
Like any Mercedes worth six figures, the EQS is a joy to drive because of its quiet interior and deft rear-wheel drive. The 56-inch Hyperscreen display and lighting effects that stream out of every crevice in 64 customizable hues, are over the top and could be found in any fuel-powered automobile. Innovations that contribute to the development of electric vehicles are currently lacking.
Initial impressions are useless. The EQS’s unattractive design is based on one of the most overused E.V. tropes: the egg-shaped transport pod scaled up to Benzian dimensions. Mercedes markets the EQS as a replacement for the S-Class flagship, however, rear-seat passengers of average height will have their heads pressed against the back of the headrests, and the EQS lacks a trunk like many other engine-free electric vehicles. Despite being 11 inches shorter, the Lucid has the biggest trunk in its class, making it ideal for taller passengers in the back.
Mercedes claims that its EQS is the most efficient hypercar in the world. Lucid’s Air, on the other hand, is almost as sleek and is able to appear good, too. Despite its aerodynamic design, the EQS has a maximum legal range of just 350 miles. The most fuel-efficient Lucid can go around 50 percent farther, or roughly 2.5 hours longer while traveling on the highway.
Lucid is a little, upstart rival to Mercedes’s huge size and storied history. Although it started from scratch, this business has made significant strides in electric vehicle technology. No other electric vehicle has been able to add 300 miles to its range in 20 minutes using a 350-kilowatt charger, which is twice as fast.
How did we manage to go 500 miles at 70 miles per hour? Mr. Rawlinson remarked this, alluding to an InsideEVs.com test of real-world, highway-speed range. To do this, we reevaluated everything that might be expected of an E.V. from the ground up.
When compared to other cars tested at the same 70 mph speed, the Porsche Taycan came in last with a range of 297 miles while the small Tesla Model 3 came in second with 310 miles. Although InsideEVs has yet to put the Mercedes to the test, my own experience has led me to believe that the Benz can achieve or surpass its stated rating of 350 miles.
In addition, because to a brand new manufacturing facility in Arizona, Lucid expects to sell tens of thousands more Airs in the United States this year than EQS. Mercedes only moved 443 EQS vehicles in the United States during the fourth quarter, but that number might rise because the automaker isn’t saying how many will hit dealerships in the United States this year.
Next year, Lucid plans to release a Gravity SUV, the first product in an expanded product range and manufacturing facility that would allow them to produce 500,000 vehicles per year by 2030. Mr. Rawlinson recognizes the challenges facing any firm that aspires to equal Tesla’s (so far) unprecedented ascent. However, he did mention that many people in 2009, when he first started working for Tesla, had predicted that the firm would collapse horribly.
It’s unheard of, yet we began Model S with six engineers, he remarked. As the saying goes, “the buck stops here,” and a chief engineer has to be able to make decisions.
Mr. Rawlinson’s distinctive drive unit is the showpiece of the Air. A new Corvette has a V-8 engine with 495 horsepower. The engine and gearbox combination weigh more than 800 pounds due to having eight gears. The electric motor, single-speed transmission, and inverter that makeup Lucid’s powder keg generate as much as 650 horsepower and weigh only 163 pounds. The complete system may be stored in a standard carry-on bag. More specifically, its power density, measured in terms of horsepower per pound, is roughly treble that of Tesla’s most potent offering.
When I competed in Germany, I did it in an EQS 580, which had 516 horsepower and could reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. At first, I thought this EQS (starting at $120,105 or $135,300 with options) was fast, but then I rode in the Lucid Air Dream Performance, which has two engines producing a combined 1,111 insane horsepower. The figure seems like a typo, and the experience it conveys is similar to falling out of a Cessna without a parachute. That includes a headfirst dive over the cliffs of Storm King Mountain on U.S. Route 9W, with the frozen Hudson River’s narrows blurring below.