The Tesla Model S Plaid's most serious rival.
The Tesla Model S may have started it all but it was never going to be the only all-electric luxury sedan on the market. The 2021 Lucid Air, an EV sedan with up to 1,080 horsepower, could become Tesla's biggest rival once customer deliveries get underway in the first half of 2021. Lucid Motors has already released pricing for every trim level and the Air may certainly steal some Model S customers. But the Air has something else in common with the Model S: it does not utilize outsourced construction and drivetrain components from mainstream automakers.
Lucid Motors is already establishing dealerships in locations such as Beverly Hills and California, and more are coming. This is an important factor because the Lucid Air is not intended to be some ultra-limited-edition model but rather a vehicle anyone can buy at any time. But does it have what it takes to not only surpass the Model S, but also the Porsche Taycan and upcoming Audi e-tron GT? Only time will tell.
The Lucid Air may look like a concept vehicle at first, but what you see here is what is now on sale. Its slick exterior design has a drag coefficient of just 0.21, making it the world's most aerodynamic car, beating out the Model S and Taycan by 0.03 and 0.04, respectively.
The four-door coupe styling works extremely well and it makes the Model S seem somewhat dated. We especially like the standard 19-inch and optional 20-inch Aero Lite wheels. The limited Dream Edition has unique 21-inch wheels. Up front, the Air boasts a revolutionary headlight system consisting of thousands of "light channels" which are supposedly the brightest, most advanced, and most precise on the market.
The sedan rides on the Lucid Electric Advanced Platform (LEAP) that will serve as the basis for all future models, including an SUV. Lucid's designers made sure the Air's final design did not rely upon any traditional styling cues from other brands, but rather the sole goal was to offer a beautiful vehicle that will stand out against everything else on the road.
Lucid went above and beyond with the Air's interior design and layout. Making the drivetrain components as small and powerful as possible allows for maximum interior space. The sedan boasts the largest frunk in the world. Overall, the Air's dash layout has a clean design. The highlight is a 34-inch curved 5K display that "floats" above the dashboard. Beneath the air vents is a retractable panel where functions like seat adjustments, lighting, and opening and close the doors are located. Most controls are digital but there are several physical controls as well, such as for the steering wheel functions, volume roller, and toggle switches for adjusting climate settings.
Driver-assist systems are another highlight. Called DreamDrive, this sensor suite is standard on the Dream Edition and optional elsewhere with a total of 32 sensors covering vision, radar, and ultrasonics. It's also the world's first-ever EV with high-resolution LIDAR that works in coordination with the Driver Monitoring System and HD mapping. With these combined technologies, Lucid claims the Air offers the safest approach to Level 2 and 3 driver assistance technologies.
EV driving range is more vital than ever and the Air totally delivers. The EPA has given the vehicle an estimated 517-mile range on a single charge for the Grand Touring trim. Tesla quickly responded with the 520-mile range Model S Plaid. The less expensive Lucid Air Pure has a projected range of 406 miles.
The Air also has bragging rights as the world's fastest-charging EV. With a DC Fast Charging Network, the vehicle can achieve a charging rate of up to 20 miles per minute. All told, that's 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes.
Like other EVs, the Air has different levels of power based on trim. The top-of-the-line limited Dream Edition has 1,080 horsepower thanks to its dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup. Lucid claims a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 9.9 seconds. The 800-hp Grand Touring sprints to 60 in 3 seconds flat while the 620-hp Touring does the deed in 6.2 seconds.
Pricing for the Lucid Air, eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit, will start at $69,900 for the base Pure trim. Moving up the ladder, the Touring, which won't arrive until late 2021, begins at $95,000. In mid-2021, the Grand Touring will hit the road beginning at $139,000, and the limited Dream Edition costs $169,000 and will arrive in customers' driveway next spring. The latter offers unique features like exclusive 21-inch wheels, Nappa grain leather seats and Eucalyptus wood trim. All prices listed above are before the tax credit is deducted. Reservations are now underway and there's a $1,000 refundable deposit.
Competition is currently limited to the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan, though the Audi e-tron GT and Mercedes-Benz EQS are due to arrive in 2021 as well. Jaguar is supposedly planning an all-electric next-generation XJ sedan but it's future might be in doubt. In any case, the 2021 Lucid Air brings a formidable new foe to established segment players and future rivals alike.