Everything Lucid Motors Is Doing Right (And Wrong)

Opinion / 2 Comments

This company has a stellar first product. But it has a few lessons to learn.

CarBuzz recently had a chance to experience the first car from Lucid Motors, the 2023 Lucid Air. During our week with it, we noted that the Air comes as close to being a "perfect EV" as we've ever driven, but the car wasn't without its issues. It would be naive to think an automaker that has never produced a car before wouldn't encounter a few problems in its early days. As Tesla proved, building cars is hard, and that company is still experiencing quality issues (like steering wheels falling off) after more than a decade.

With that in mind, we wanted to look at Lucid Motors to examine what the company got right on its first attempt and what it could improve. This won't be a review of the Air itself (we have that on our site if you're interested), but rather a look at the company, where it is currently, the direction it's going in, and our overall outlook towards it. In our opinion, Lucid has the unique opportunity to become the world standard in EVs if it makes the right decisions in the coming years.

2022-2023 Lucid Air Front Angle View CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Front View CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Rear View CarBuzz

Good: Brilliant Features

During our week with the Air, we noticed little quality-of-life details that made the experience easier than other EVs. Some of these features, including not having a start button and putting a blind-spot camera, were cherry-picked from other automakers like Tesla and Hyundai Motor Group, while others are entirely original. Our favorite feature was the surround-view camera, which shows the precise distance between the car and obstacles. This felt so much more useful than the garden variety camera systems and sensors, which beep incessantly while barely indicating when the car might hit an object. We'd be shocked if this idea isn't copied in the next 2-3 years.

Another minor detail we must credit Lucid for is the integration of redundant controls. Almost every function is available on the touchscreen, but commonly-used tasks like adjusting the volume or climate control are just a hands-reach away. Most EVs are too quick to ditch traditional controls in favor of putting everything on the screen, so we are happy to see Lucid acknowledge that some drivers still crave buttons and knobs.

2022-2023 Lucid Air Surround-View Camera CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Infotainment System CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Interior Trim CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Sunroof CarBuzz

Good: The Range And Charging King

No EV on the market can match the Air's range. Though it falls a bit short of the Dream Edition Range (520 miles), the Air Grand Touring can achieve 516 miles on a charge when equipped with the base 19-inch wheels. Opting for the 20- or 21-inch wheels drops it to 469 miles, which is still better than any competitor out there. The Air completely erases range anxiety. We never once felt stressed about having enough electricity to reach our destination. There's not a single gas-powered car with over 800 horsepower that could go over 400 miles on a single tank. If there is, let us know how wrong we are in the comments.

Lucid achieved these numbers not by having a stupidly large 200 kWh battery pack (though the 112 kWh back isn't exactly small) but by maximizing the Air's efficiency. It has the lowest drag coefficient in any production car (matched by the Mercedes EQS) and can achieve a staggering 4.6 miles per kWh, which is higher than any other EV. To be honest, we only managed around 3.5 mi/kWh under normal driving but could achieve the magic 4.6 number with a light foot.

2022-2023 Lucid Air Side View CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Wheel CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Steering Wheel CarBuzz

Not only does the Air go further than most EVs, but it also charges quicker, too, thanks to its 900-volt charging architecture. Lucid claims a 300 kW peak charging speed, which would be around 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes. In our testing on a preconditioned battery with a 45% state of charge, we only noticed around half that speed. The car peaked at around 200 kW briefly before settling in at around 150 kW. Charging an EV is not an exact science, but even at the lower charge rate, we added around 250 miles of range in under 30 minutes, plenty for a quick bathroom break on a road trip.

For EVs to change the minds of the staunchest doubters, they will have to match (or exceed) ICE cars on range and refuel time. The Lucid Air gets closer to this goal than any other EV, and other companies will need to bring their cars to this level if they want to have mass market appeal. For now, Lucid is the benchmark for EV range and charging.


Bad: Expanding The Lineup

We understand why Lucid launched with the Air; the company wanted to achieve industry firsts (like a 500-mile range), and those feats could only be accomplished with a sleek sedan. Unfortunately, we live in a world dominated by SUVs, and it would have made more sense for sales to launch with the Gravity. Lucid's first SUV is currently undergoing testing, and it can't arrive on the market soon enough. It may not boast the same impressive performance figures as the Air, but with up to seven seats, it will be more beneficial for buyers spending that kind of money on a luxury family vehicle.

The Gravity will appeal to a broader audience, hopefully improving Lucid's yearly sales numbers that have been hampered by production and supply issues, but it will still be out of reach for the vast majority of buyers. We hope after the Gravity, Lucid will follow Tesla's product cadence by releasing more affordable vehicles in the vein of the Model 3 and Model Y. Even if these models offer around 350-400 miles of range for under $70,000, we'd dub them a success.

2024 Lucid Gravity Front View Lucid
2024 Lucid Gravity Top View Lucid
2024 Lucid Gravity Interior Overview Lucid Motors

Bad: Quality Hiccups

As we mentioned in the opening, it's unreasonable to think that a first-time automaker would build a flawless product without any hiccups. Our Air Grand Touring loaner was far from perfect. In the week, we noticed the infotainment screen go black, requiring a complete restart. The infotainment system also experienced some lag, specifically when sending a menu from the top screen to the bottom. These software issues were not constant but did rear their ugly head more than once.

Much like a Tesla, some of the body and trim panels didn't line up perfectly, though you'd need to look closely to notice. Some outlets have also noticed paint that is too thin to polish. For a first effort, we'd say Lucid has already matched Tesla in build quality and can only improve from here. But the Air's interior fit and finish are lightyears ahead of the Model S.

We do have some concerns about the doors, though. The handles pop up when you approach the cars with the key, which is supposed to happen automatically, but doesn't always. We assume normal handles would have hurt efficiency, but we much prefer BMW's implementation of recessed units. During the week, the soft-close doors acted up on more than one occasion, failing to fully latch and causing the car to think the door was ajar. Getting out of the car and then locking and unlocking it solved the issue.

2022-2023 Lucid Air Badge CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Seat Seat Details CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Infotainment System CarBuzz

Bad: Service Experience

When spending six figures on a car, customers have certain expectations for the service experience. No one trading their Taycan or EQS in on a Lucid will tolerate anything other than perfection here. Lucid's Studio (what the company calls its dealerships) presence is still pretty scattered, meaning it may be a long hike to have your car serviced. In Central Florida, our nearest Lucid Studio is two and a half hours away outside West Palm Beach. Even in a car with a 500-mile range, that's pretty inconvenient.

Lucid says servicing its cars is meant to be "as smooth and elegant as the car itself," so the company will send a mobile service van to your home or work. These vans even have a built-in coffee machine. Between the mobile service, a certified body repair center network, and over-the-air updates, Lucid is confident that it can handle most issues without a trip to the service center. Knowing how complicated cars can be, Lucid's budding service network might worry us if it was our main or only vehicle, but testimonies from owners could assuage our doubts.

Lucid Motors
Lucid Motors

CarBuzz contacted Kyle Conner, YouTuber, founder of Out of Spec Studios, and owner of a Lucid Air, Tesla Model S, and Rivian R1T, to ask about his firsthand experience.

"In my experience, the startups (Lucid, Rivian, and Tesla) do service way way way better than traditional dealerships," he said. "Owning an Air, the service centers have been efficient, friendly, knowledgeable, and flexible. We had an issue where our air conditioning failed while on a trip [to] Florida. The local Lucid service center squeezed us in, provided a loaner car, and had us on the road in just a couple of hours. They have also offered to send mobile service out to our office to perform a wheel and tire change, which we declined and brought the car to their service center in Denver. Their phone support teams seem to understand the technology in the car and have walked through my colleagues on certain questions. We're more than pleased with Lucid service."

Lucid Motors
Lucid Motors

Outlook: Boom Or Bust

In our honest opinion, Lucid Motors is in the best position to dethrone Tesla as the ultimate EV manufacturer. Perhaps not in terms of overall scale (at least not for several years), but certainly in a sense of technological innovation. In fact, the Air proved that Lucid might already be technologically superior to Tesla and able to build a more impressive product.

However, we could also see the company floundering and failing; there's no middle ground in our minds. We can't see a scenario where Lucid progresses to become a "just average" car company. Lucid Motors is headed toward greatness or collapse, and based on our experience in the Air, we are rooting for the former. Some majorly important things need to be settled first.

The company needs to get those production numbers way up and start hitting its goals (Lucid only sold 7,180 cars in 2022). It also needs to get the Gravity into customer hands and iron out its quality issues promptly. Are these easy tasks to accomplish? Absolutely not. But if Lucid can pull it off, there's no stopping this company from taking off and being the next Tesla.

2022-2023 Lucid Air Front Bumper CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Interior Overview CarBuzz
2022-2023 Lucid Air Dashboard CarBuzz

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2022-2023 Lucid Air Badge
2022-2023 Lucid Air Back Seats
2022-2023 Lucid Air Rear Passenger Seats
2022-2023 Lucid Air Infotainment Offering

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