Lucid Air Prototype Hits 235 MPH On High Speed Oval (w/video)

4 weeks ago by Eric Loveday 29

Lucid’s Speed Car Group

When 217 miles per hour isn’t fast enough you go back to the drawing board if you’re Lucid Motors.

With the software limit removed, Lucid was able to get its Air to top out at an absolutely astonishing speed of 235 miles per hour. That sort of max speed is virtually unheard in the electric car world. In fact, only a handful of “production” gas cars can reach speeds of over 230 miles per hour.

In-Car Footage

Lucid had this to say of its Lucid Air Alpha Speed Car:

“The car completed a series of tests, including a set of tire tests we will describe in a future blog. We also tackled the high-speed oval again, this time with the software speed limit removed so we could evaluate performance at even higher speeds, up to 235 mph.”

Overhead Of Lucid’s Top Speed Car

Some 3 months back, the Lucid Air manage to go only 217 MPH. Turns out that run was software limited. That’s why it was so slow (sarcasm intended).  Take the software limiter out and you’ve opened up the 235-mph beast!

Lucid explains how the first high-speed test convinced the speed team that there was more to explore:

“If you recall, we fitted one of our Lucid Air Alpha prototypes with a roll cage in preparation for a series of high-speed tests intended to explore the limits of the platform and uncover any behaviors that may not be discovered in lab testing.”

“This prototype, dubbed the Lucid Air Alpha Speed Car, was first tested in April 2017. For additional safety during our first high-speed tests, the car was given aerodynamic aids and a parachute to slow the car abruptly in case the straights didn’t prove long enough to reach desired speeds and slow down sufficiently for the next turn. For this first test, the top speed was software limited to 217 mph (350 km/h).”

“The first test exceeded our expectations. Our driver exited the banked oval at over 200 mph. The car then hit the speed limiter less than a quarter of the way down the straightaway, leaving plenty of space to slow down without the use of the parachute.”

This all led the speed freaks to give test two, or the resulting 235-mph test, a go. Lucid explains the outcome:

“At 11 am, our driver set off on his flying lap. It was clear to the spotters standing hundreds of meters away that the car was moving faster coming off the banking than during the last test. And they were right. This time the Air came off the banking at 215 mph and reached an ultimate GPS confirmed speed of 235.44 mph.”

“The Air Alpha prototype performed beautifully. The car was perfectly stable in corners and on the straight, which is illustrated by the driver’s slow and steady inputs that can be seen in the accompanying video. The software update to the air suspension performed as expected and responded appropriately during cornering. The thermal levels of the powertrain, including the front motor, stayed within specification throughout the run.”

At 235.44 MPH, you’d think Lucid would let it go, but no. Of that speed, Lucid says:

“235.44 mph. While it may be the top speed achievable on that day, with those conditions, and at this stage of development for the Alpha Speed Car, it is not the final production top speed for the Lucid Air.”

The actual target then is anyone’s guess. Why not shoot for 250 MPH or so!

Check out the video run below:

Lucid’s blog post is found in its entirety below:

Testing Without Limits: Lucid Air Hits 235 mph

Lucid Air Alpha Prototype Returns to the High-Speed Oval, This Time without a Speed Limiter

The Lucid team recently returned to the Transportation Research Center (TRC) facility in Ohio for the next round of testing with the Lucid Air Alpha Speed Car. The car completed a series of tests, including a set of tire tests we will describe in a future blog. We also tackled the high-speed oval again, this time with the software speed limit removed so we could evaluate performance at even higher speeds, up to 235 mph.

Learning from the First Test

If you recall, we fitted one of our Lucid Air Alpha prototypes with a roll cage in preparation for a series of high-speed tests intended to explore the limits of the platform and uncover any behaviors that may not be discovered in lab testing.

This prototype, dubbed the Lucid Air Alpha Speed Car, was first tested in April 2017. For additional safety during our first high-speed tests, the car was given aerodynamic aids and a parachute to slow the car abruptly in case the straights didn’t prove long enough to reach desired speeds and slow down sufficiently for the next turn. For this first test, the top speed was software limited to 217 mph (350 km/h).

The first test exceeded our expectations. Our driver exited the banked oval at over 200 mph. The car then hit the speed limiter less than a quarter of the way down the straightaway, leaving plenty of space to slow down without the use of the parachute.

Although the car performed wonderfully, we also found opportunities for improvement. For example, the self-leveling air suspension was not able to adjust quickly enough when running near 200 mph on a high-banked track, with heavy downforce pushing the car laterally against the track. We also found the front motor was running at temperatures higher than had been predicted in computer simulations.

Before heading back out for a second test, we made a few adjustments based on what we learned. The air suspension required a software update to improve responsiveness when loaded heavily. The front motor required updates to coolant flow and ventilation. New, aerodynamically efficient wheels were fitted. Last but not least, we removed the speed limiter to see what a Lucid Air alpha prototype was capable of achieving.

Returning to the Track

After completing the other planned tests, the team was ready to run the oval. However, Mother Nature had other ideas. When the team awoke at 5am, it was pouring rain, hardly ideal for a top speed test. The run was nearly cancelled, but once everybody arrived at the track, the rain had stopped, the sun had emerged, and the track was drying rapidly with some help from TRC’s jet dryer truck.

At 11 am, our driver set off on his flying lap. It was clear to the spotters standing hundreds of meters away that the car was moving faster coming off the banking than during the last test. And they were right. This time the Air came off the banking at 215 mph and reached an ultimate GPS confirmed speed of 235.44 mph.

The Air Alpha prototype performed beautifully. The car was perfectly stable in corners and on the straight, which is illustrated by the driver’s slow and steady inputs that can be seen in the accompanying video. The software update to the air suspension performed as expected and responded appropriately during cornering. The thermal levels of the powertrain, including the front motor, stayed within specification throughout the run.

235.44 mph. While it may be the top speed achievable on that day, with those conditions, and at this stage of development for the Alpha Speed Car, it is not the final production top speed for the Lucid Air. What it does represent, however, is further proof that the Lucid Air is a vehicle without compromise, one that offers incredible performance and dynamics, yet still offers remarkable space and comfort for a sublime luxury experience.

The Lucid Team would like to thank the world-class staff of the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in Ohio for their support and flexibility during our hectic testing schedule. We would also like to thank Pirelli for their generous support as we explore the limits of passenger-car tires.

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29 responses to "Lucid Air Prototype Hits 235 MPH On High Speed Oval (w/video)"

  1. Nick says:

    Wait, is that quick or fast? 😀

    1. ANewHope says:

      “it is not the final production top speed for the Lucid Air.”

      No doubt a stunning milestone, but what will the real top speed be when the car is not stripped down to the bare metal?

      1. La Frennia di Mamata says:

        Another vital piece of evidence that further Proves that the ICE car technology is an old , outdated Noisy Polluting Dinosaur that should be OUTLAWED!! They no longer have a place on this Planet..

        1. AlphaEdge says:

          Right, because we all need to get to work at 235 mph!

          1. SparkEV says:

            I wouldn’t mind. The speed limit is 669 million miles per hour, 235 MPH is almost like standing still.

            Now only if we can figure out a work around to Pauli exclusion principle… I’m not sure if anyone’s working on fermion-bozon converter.

            1. Brave Lil' Toaster says:

              That’s the speed limit in a vacuum. If you try to exceed even the comparatively pokey 10,000 mph in our atmosphere, you’ll instantly burst into flame, I don’t care who you are.

              1. SparkEV says:

                That’s why you need fermion-bozon converter. Heck, life might be easier as bozons, no need to turn back to fermions.

              2. philip d says:

                Not if you make use of Space X’s PICA-X ablative high temperature heat shielding. Just have it replaced every tire rotation.

            2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              Brave Lil’ Toaster said:

              “…If you try to exceed even the comparatively pokey 10,000 mph in our atmosphere, you’ll instantly burst into flame…”

              Oh, we visionaries can easily handwave that away as merely a minor technical challenge to be solved by engineers. 😉

        2. Dutchie says:

          When don’t need to travel further than 100 miles, you might be right. I can not see this as an Revolution. This is an Evolution at best. Just accept the fact that ‘normal consumers’ (I mean not the EV-Enthousiast)will take discomfort up to a certain level.
          An Audi RS7 can do this all day long. Maybe not important when in th US, @55/65 mph everywhere. But i can ensure you, i still enjoy running at 200mph down the German Autobahn. Stop at a fuel station, pull out 5 minutes later and do another full run again. No use in charging for hours before being able to continue your journey.
          Step by step cars like this one are getting better, i’ll admit to that. But we are still a long way from banning conventional, fuel burning cars. A long way from that.

          1. Samwise says:

            “Charging for hours”
            What did you do? Pull over and plug it into an extension lead from someone’s house?

      2. John says:

        Weight has almost nothing to do with the top speed.

    2. Miggy says:

      That’s Fast 378 km/h Fast

  2. Nix says:

    That is just bad-azz!

  3. salkin says:

    That’s awesome 🙂 what kind of gearbox are they using? i guess its not single speed.

    1. Bogdan says:

      Why not? Still thinking in ICE terms?
      Let me explain it to you: it’s like driving an ICE manual gear box in top gear. The electric motor just doesn’t need any of the lower gears.

    2. Doggydogworld says:

      It’s probably single speed, possibly with a taller gear ratio. A taller gear ratio reduces torque and acceleration. But even with a tall gear the Lucid Air will be limited by wheel traction at low speeds, so this test car might have production gearing.

      I’ve read a re-geared EV-1 hit 186 mph. It must have also used an uprated motor, since the stock motor was 102 kW and I calculate aero drag alone of 134 kW. This video purports to show the high speed run:

  4. JR says:

    I love it! This is how you push technology to the limit.

  5. CDAVIS says:

    Hey Lucid Motors…great stuff…dont give up…we are all pulling for you!

    If you can get that test go-cart Lucid Air to break the sound barrier on the salt flats it will self materialize into a production ready EV. Just need to work on getting it to go faster!

  6. Hans Hammermill says:

    Assuming a Lucid Air has about the same drag coefficient, frontal area and weight as a Model S P100D, it looks like it would take 590hp (or 440kw) to hit 235mph.

    It would use 100kwh of power in 13 minutes.

    I remember when the XJ220 was developed it took a significant engineering effort to create the platform purpose-built for 220mph.

    Very impressive this electric sedan can go significantly faster then that.

  7. Mil says:

    Great but probably best to first focus on getting it to 70mph in a production car on the real road that customers can actually buy.

  8. James says:

    Now it will exit the turn into bankruptcy, I fear. How do they keep going with no money?

    1. DJ says:

      By fancy and free press for doing things their production car wouldn’t be able to do of course 😀

  9. Vexar says:

    I’m glad that certain companies are participating in getting to different limits of manufacturing, capability, durability, etc.
    I’m overjoyed that it is a new manufacturer versus an established one, because I think a change of guard is due. When Porsche back-pedals on their electrification plans (today), ICEs become less and less relevant.

    1. Roy_H says:

      Porsche did not back-pedal. They just stated that an all new EV was much better than trying to modify and existing car. I agree and so does Tesla.

      1. Vexar says:

        Thanks for clearing that up. I’ve been struggling to make sense of the VW Group’s big plan. I suppose I need to know more about Porsche vehicles in general.

  10. Aaron says:

    Why? What good will come out of this for passenger vehicles?

  11. F150 Brian says:

    Bugatti sells a car that is electronically limited to 261 mph.
    An all out no holds barred top speed run would certainly push that much higher.

    Lucid, you are proving very little, other than the fact that you are well behind high end ICE exotics. Now, if you actually produce a vehicle with similar specs, then you will make a point, especially if it comes in at a price that is not limitted to the super rich.

    1. Samwise says:

      Really?
      There are something like 5, maybe production cars fastest than that on the market and absolutely NONE of them is a luxury sedan.

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