Exclusive: Lucid Explains Long-Term Vision For Affordable Luxury EV

FEB 5 2019 BY BRADLEY BERMAN 34

Lucid is aiming for five miles per kilowatt-hour, batteries that can take repeated ultra-fast charging, and packs as small as 30 kWh.

The EV world took notice when Peter Rawlinson, the chief engineer for the Tesla Model S during its development, joined Lucid Motors in 2012. After a few years in stealth mode, Lucid Motors in December 2016 unveiled the Air – its bold, 400-mile, 1,000-horsepower luxury electric sedan.

By many accounts in major media including Reuters, the Lucid Air should already be on the road. Rawlinson says the company was misquoted about the timing. Regardless, Lucid now has more than $1 billion in its coffers via an investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Moreover, Lucid is now committed to late 2020 for the market introduction of the Air.

That first $100,000-plus vehicle is just the beginning of a much bigger vision. InsideEVs sat down with Rawlinson, Lucid’s chief technology officer, yesterday to learn more.

“I’m playing a chess game here with Lucid. It’s not about a single product,” he said.

Lucid Air

While the Air will offer the option of a battery pack providing more than 400 miles of range, Rawlinson believes that EVs need to move to “a different paradigm” beyond ever-bigger batteries. He said the key is Lucid’s in-house technology expertise, including production and design of small, highly efficient motors and power electronics as well as unprecedented levels of slippery aerodynamics. “It’s not one thing,” said Rawlinson. “It’s everything.”

Five Miles Per Kilowatt-Hour

These advances could mean a jump in efficiency beyond about 3.5 to 4 miles per kilowatt-hour in today’s electric cars. “Within the next few years, Lucid is going to push that to, say, five miles per kilowatt-hour,” he told me.

Rawlinson wants to combine the higher level of efficiency with ubiquitous ultra-fast charging. It will mean using battery chemistry with tolerance against degradation incurred by repeated, regular fast charging. With that in place, Lucid can leverage its partnership with Electrify America supplying a dedicated nationwide network of 350-kW chargers. “We’re going to see Electrify America putting fast charge stations on every street corner,” he said. (Every corner!)

Lucid can make a true luxury car that sells below $30,000. “That’s how we change the way that humanity mobilizes itself,” said Rawlinson.

Rawlinson said that with abundant ultra-fast charging, you wouldn’t need anywhere close to 400 miles of range on a single charge. “Why would I want more than 150-mile range because I know I can fast-charge anywhere I go?” he said. “And if I can get five miles per kilowatt hour, then I only need a 30 kilowatt-hour pack.”

Rawlinson became animated when considering the possibility of an ultra-efficient, ultra-luxury EV with a 30-kWh pack – and, critically, the price of batteries dropping to $100 per kWh (as they are expected to do). “My god, that’s $3,000 at the cell level and about $4,500 at the pack level. That’s going to be the revolution,” he said. “And that’s going to be upon us in five to six years.”

Rawlinson said that’s when Lucid can make a true luxury car that sells below $30,000. “That’s how we change the way that humanity mobilizes itself,” he said. “That’s what drives me. It’s that long-term strategy.”

However, Rawlinson said that before Lucid can get there, the company first needs to create brand cachet with a vehicle that’s a “technological tour de force.” He added, “That’s Lucid Air.”

Lucid is expected to break ground on its factory in Casa Grande, Ariz. by mid-2019. Rawlinson believes that the current EV market lacks a legitimate luxury vehicle. He praised Tesla cars as “disruptive and very innovative,” but said the interior “disappoints and is a little bit on the utilitarian side.” Rawlinson said the Lucid Air is not targeting Tesla customers but is aimed at the broad $100 billion annual market for large, luxury sedans, such as the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series.

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34 Comments on "Exclusive: Lucid Explains Long-Term Vision For Affordable Luxury EV"

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I have been willing to give Lucid a break, and reserve judgement, but statements like an EA ufc on every corner do not inspire confidence.
In chess one might call his opening the Giuoco Piano. The quiet game, but often refereed to in modern parlance as the Joke Piano. So Lucid seems to be more of a quiet joke, than not.

I wouldn’t consider having to charge that puny 30kWh every hour or so on a road trip a luxury experience so yes, this is sounding more like a joke to me too at this point.

I wonder if it’s the petrodollar investors who made the suggestion?

EXAGGERATION ….. To The Max ! Even if All They Claim Were To Come to Fruition, I’d Have to take a Good Hard Look At It And Witness It 1st. Hand . This is all a Little too hard to Believe .

Wherever they think they can go, Tesla can get there first. I suspect that Tesla is the only successful new car company we will see in the U.S. in the electrification push (and it will succeed). Maybe Lucid can have some success in the ultra high end niche (as do Rolls, Bentley, Ferrari, Lambo, Mercedes Maybach etc.) but even that is a stretch I think. Tesla will own the electric super sports car market while the current supercar makers work hard to catch up.

And heating in winter..?

This is a fallacy of obtaining ultra-high efficiency to get by with a much smaller battery pack because your heating/cooling system for battery and cabin consumes the same amount of energy regardless of how efficient your motor/inverter electronic is.

The more efficient EV will experience more range loss because the heating/cooling energy usage will be a higher % for the smaller pack compare to a bigger pack. 10kW lost in extreme cold temperature @ 3 miles/kWh efficiency = 30 miles range loss, whereas 10kW lost @ 5 miles/kWh = 50 miles range loss.

150 miles range @ 3 miles/kWh = 50 kWh pack = 20% loss in range when consuming extra 10kW due to extreme weather
150 miles range @ 5 miles/kWh = 30 kWh pack = 33% loss in range when consuming extra 10kW due to extreme weather

However, if you use a heat pump instead of a resistive heater, you consume an extra 5kWh (not kW) instead of 10 in this scenario. That’s a 16% loss, less than the 20% loss in the less efficient car.

In 2021 Rawlinson will say this article is full of “misquotes”.

In 2021, the Rawlinson “misquotes” in this article, hopefully don’t include the following:

“Lucid now has more than $1 billion in its coffers via an investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.”

Getting money from a terrorist regime. I’m good

It’s good to see someone talking about making electric more efficient, that is where Hyundai is focused, the solution for better performance and efficiency isn’t just a bigger battery, they need to get a lot more out of what they have through battery and drive system technology, batteries, motors and especially multi speed transmissions.

You almost had me, groing, till you mentioned the need for multi speed transmissions! In all but the most extreme cases (hypercar needing massive acceleration AND huge top speed) a complex transmission is surely just unnecessary weight and an impediment to an EV’s main advantage – its supremely smooth power delivery.

Get ready for a shock, ZF EV multi speed transmissions have been in the works since 2014, will likely start with two gear ranges then move up to 3 and 4 speed as they represent a conservative 20% gain in range and will likely be seen first in BMW electrics in 2 years. Just look up EV multi speed transmissions, there are several transmission makers involved, electric race cars especially Nissan have been using them for years.

Surprise, surprise, the transmission manufacturer is trying to sell people transmissions for EVs. Sure there’s a place for them, but it’s likely a niche. Electric motors have such a broad range of good efficiency that for most normal cars a transmission would probably represent more cost and losses than efficiency gains.

But I couldn’t agree more that it’s nice to see someone focusing on efficiency! BTW, 4 Miles/kWh = 156 Wh/km.

It it can make a 30kw or 40kw car efficient as a 60 kw then why not. Control cost and cheaper I wouldn’t mind

It can’t though. look at this image: https://faculty.washington.edu/dwhm/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Leaf-Motor-Efficiency-750×445.png Pretty all steady speeds above 25mph are above 90% efficiency, mostly above 93%. A different gear ratio can move you up ant to the right or down and to the left. You might be able to go from 93% to 96%, 95% to 97%, or for very low speeds 90% to 95%. So a transmission might gain you 5% range, but only when going very slowly, which is typically the trips when you’re least concerned about range. This is ignoring the fact that a typically multi speed transmission is 2-5% less efficient than a single speed gear box. The only time a multi-speed makes sense in an EV is for extreme performance demands, or if most of the time is spent accelerating and decelerating.

Excellent reply!

On top of that, even if adding a multi speed transmission would increase the range by 20% as stated, so would increasing the battery size by 20%, which might be the more cost effective option.

The EV industry as a whole certainly won’t move to multi-speed transmissions. Not ever. EVs will be cheaper to build than comparable gasmobiles within a few years, and the elimination of the transmission is one of the things which will enable that.

The mechanical inefficiency of a multi-speed transmission more than wipes out the tiny increase in efficiency from using a narrower range of motor speeds.

Yes, Formula E race cars use multi-speed transmissions, altho on average fewer gears every year — the opposite of a trend towards more gears, as you’re claiming. But Formula E cars don’t use a multi-speed transmission to make them more energy efficient; they do it to give them better acceleration at certain speeds.

If your income depends on selling transmissions, as Davek suggests, then that explains why you’re making these false claims: You’re selling something. But your assertions here are nonsense; what Tesla Motors founder Martin Eberhard calls “cabbage”.

Lucid is hallucinating. They are now on the record promising a true luxury EV that charges at 350KW for under $30K. I guess I would start hallucinating too if someone threw a billion dollars of cash on my lap.

Ha-Lucid-nating.

Thanks to Lucid Motors the word “lucid” is on a path of adopting a new meaning… not in a good way.

Lucid dreaming springs to mind!

But only when you’re asleep.

I want a luxury vehicle where I have to stop every ~1.3 hours to fast charge, because I no likey approaching empty battery just like never took long ICEv trips driving on less than 1/4 gas tank . No, we don’t need ever bigger batteries but we need ever more energy dense batteries.

I don’t understand what the delay is, are they waiting for the technology to arrive? Tesla didn’t. They delivered with the technology they had, not the technology they’d like to have…

Sounds like lots of hot Air ,,If they have the money Just build it!
And if Tesla cant make 30 thou car at profit,,how will Lucid ?
I predict the money will run out and Lucid will disapear

Looks to me like there’s another player in US automobile manufacturing. With the money infusion and what appears to be a desirable product they may be able to make a place for themselves. No easy task, granted, but once name recognition is established anything is possible. I think they are on the right track with increasing the efficiency of the power plant to make the battery smaller as a way to bring the price down dramatically. This won’t happen overnight but once the ball gets rolling, electric charging stations will by necessity, be much more common. Obviously, “on every corner” was an exaggeration. Still, fast charging and battery improvements may bring us back to 300 mile vehicles and a quick fill up which is pretty much where ice cars are now.
OK.. let the criticism begin..

Ok 👌🏽 Lucid PR. We get it that you trying to put on a good face

So much BS here…let me start with this: too little, too late.
This fool apparently hasn’t recognized that the sedan is trending ever downward in sales luxury or not. This new factory was supposed to break ground in az two years ago.
This is vaporware at this point…we’ve heard all this bull for many years now from lucid.

Why does this website report on such non news from these phonies??

It’s an High Car like I pace

Vaporware company

“And if I can get five miles per kilowatt hour, then I only need a 30 kilowatt-hour pack.”

And if unicorns towed it, it wouldn’t need a battery pack at all! 🙄

5 miles/kWh, with real-world driving, including some highway driving? Let’s just say that “I’m from Missouri — Show me!” I won’t believe it until it’s demonstrated for some independent observers.

This just supports the claims by some that Lucid is a sham company.

I like the styling of this car. As to whether or not they ever build one, I’m guessing no unless they can con..vince a company to buy them.