Published on September 2nd, 2020 |
by Loren McDonald
September 2nd, 2020 by Loren McDonald
In its fifth and final press release in the last five weeks leading up to the September 9 reveal, Lucid Motors shared a drag-race video of the Air (Dream version) achieving a 9.9 second quarter-mile time.
According to Lucid, the 1,080 horsepower, dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Air is the only electric sedan able to achieve a quarter-mile time under 10 seconds. By comparison, the fastest time for a Tesla Model S in the ¼ mile is apparently 10.4 seconds.
The well orchestrated drip-style PR strategy was designed to convince the market that not only is Lucid Motors a serious manufacturer of electric vehicles, but that the Air will be unmatched in several design, performance and efficiency metrics. These include:
“When the Lucid Air comes to market next spring, the world will see that we have developed the best electric vehicle technology possible by a wide margin and effectively created a new benchmark for EVs.” — Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO, Lucid Motors
I had a chance to spend nearly 60 minutes with Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson last week (I will share highlights from that meeting after the September 9 reveal), and what really came through in the interview is the company’s focus on efficiency. In today’s latest announcement, the company revealed details of its in-house developed electric drivetrain that will power the forthcoming electric luxury Lucid Air.
At every corner of the company, Rawlinson, the original lead engineer on the Tesla Model S, seems to have a relentless focus on efficiency, and the engineering of the Air is front and center. Lucid developed the Air’s drivetrain internally, creating compact and efficient permanent magnet electric motors.
These motors are combined with an inverter and an integrated transmission and differential, and 900V+ electric drive unit that weighs just 163 pounds (74kg). Each drive unit produces more than 650hp, with a power density of 41hp per liter. This compact design enables Lucid to configure the Air with one, two, or three drive units.
Lucid claims that its drive units are 45 percent lighter and up to 59 percent more powerful. The motors are two and a half times more volumetrically compact than than the closest competitor, which isn’t named but one would assume is Tesla. The motors can spin up to 20,000 rpm, which Lucid claims is another significant performance advantage over other EVs.
The key to the efficiency of Lucid’s electric motors is a new motor-winding technology designed to maximize power output and reduce electrical losses. The motor also features an innovative cooling system that more effectively removes heat from the stator winding, minimizing losses and boosting efficiency according to Lucid.
The compactness of these electric drive units is what lays the foundation for what Lucid calls its Space Concept vehicle design approach. (While the Air looks very large to me, Rawlinson said the car is actually shorter than both the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan.) Lucid said that the small footprint of the Air is achieved in part by the transmission and differential, which are fully integrated into the electric motor and together comprise a single rotational system that is lightweight and efficient. Lucid also leverages a high-voltage, silicon-carbide MOSFET system in its inverters to maximize efficiency.
Lucid then combines its 900V+ architecture with its in-house developed “Wunberbox” onboard charging unit that enables the Air to charge at rates of up to 300 miles in 20 minutes and up to 20 miles in one minute. The Wunderbox also enables a wide array of future-ready, bi-directional power delivery features for V2G and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) charging.
Until recently, Lucid was probably flying low on most people’s radar (at least, it was for me). So you may have forgotten that the company started as Atieva, which is now Lucid’s technology division that designed, developed, manufactures, and has supplied the battery packs for the entire field of entries in the Formula E racing series since 2018. Over the last 10 years, Lucid says it has logged more than 20 million miles of real-world testing that went into creating its 113 kWh battery pack.
The production version of the Lucid Air will debut in an online reveal on September 9, 2020. In addition to sharing the vehicle’s final interior and exterior designs, production specifications, available configurations, and pricing information, I will have highlights from my tour of Lucid headquarters and interviews with Rawlinson and Derek Jenkins, VP of Design, in an upcoming article.
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