It’s not just a little longer either. The Air travels an estimated 115 miles farther than the Tesla on a single charge. It’s even farther than most gasoline cars can run on a full tank.
But Lucid’s CEO Peter Rawlinson, who once worked at Tesla and helped develop the original Model S, thinks this is breathtaking Number, 520 miles, isn’t really that important. For one thing, this range isn’t cheap. Prices for the Lucid Air sedan start at $ 74,000, but prices for the Dream Edition are more than double that, starting at $ 169,000.
However, hidden behind this number is another rarely discussed statistic that Rawlinson believes will determine winners and losers in the future world of electric cars: efficiency.
With higher energy efficiency, which contributes to the long range of the Lucid Air, electric cars will become accessible in all price ranges, he said. In fact, one of Rawlinson’s side projects is to apply some of the efficiency tricks used at Lucid to what he calls “T21”, which means “the Model T for the 21st Century”. This would be a fairly long range car that almost anyone can afford.
“The Ford Model T really mobilized humanity in the last century, in the 20th century,” said Rawlinson. “Ultimately, it had a devastating effect on the planet. We have this generation of engineers, technologists and designers. It is within our reach to try to make amends for the damage that humanity has caused.”
Lucid, a California-based company, recently started production of the Air electric sedan at its Arizona facility.
Some of the The same techniques used to design expensive very long range cars can help, Rawlinson said, that they can be applied to cheap cars that travel shorter distances that remain practical for most people.
The balancing act
Like big horsepower on performance cars, long range on electric cars will be something people can brag about, but that will have little practical use in real life, Rawlinson said. After all, most electric vehicle owners charge at home or at work overnight, and public chargers are available at distances of well under 800 kilometers for longer journeys.
And the trick to getting numbers with greater range isn’t particularly difficult with current technology, Rawlinson said. When it comes to long range or just useful range, the easiest thing to do is to just pack more batteries.
“That’s what I call stupid running,” said Rawlinson. “It’s not a technique.”
Increasing efficiency is one way of breaking this connection.
“If I could get 20% more efficient, with a certain amount of energy I can go 20% further,” said Rawlinson. “The consequence of this is that, conversely, I could cover the same distance with 20% less battery.”
For the T21 auto project, Rawlinson envisions a battery pack weighing about 275 pounds that would drive the compact car about 250 miles. That’s a lot less distance traveled per load than Lucid’s offerings, but it would also cost a lot less.
Automakers have been working for decades to make automobiles more efficient, regardless of what drives them. Given the importance of range to consumers, most automakers focus heavily on the energy efficiency of their electric cars. But few could surpass the energy efficiency of Rawinson’s old employer Tesla. Lucid seems to be an exception.
An easy way to compare the efficiency of electric cars is to use the EPA’s FuelEconomy.gov website, just like you would see the efficiency of a gasoline-powered car. The website will give you the MPGe, or the equivalent of miles per gallon, of every electric car sold in the US. This is a measure of how far a vehicle will travel on an amount of electricity equivalent to the energy in a gallon of gasoline.
The 520-mile version of the Lucid Air, the Air Dream R, has an MPGe of 125. Surprisingly, it’s not the most efficient version of the Lucid Air. The Lucid Air Grand Touring has a range of only 516 miles, but an MPGe of 131 .
The Tesla Model S Long Range is very impressive in its efficiency, but still a bit more energy-hungry than the Lucid Air. The Porsche Taycan Turbo, on the other hand, is significantly less efficient. It has an MPGe of just 73.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the efficiency gap.
Porsche spokesman Calvin Kim pointed out that as with Porsche’s gasoline-powered cars, the focus is on overall performance rather than maximum efficiency. In addition, he said, Taycan owners regularly report longer ranges (indicating better efficiency) than official EPA tests show.
Factors that contribute to an electric car’s efficiency include many of the same factors that affect the fuel efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles. Weight and aerodynamics are very important. just like the tires. The Lucid Air has low rolling resistance tires that Pirelli developed especially for Lucid.
Lucid has also developed its own compact electric motors, which it claims are the most energy efficient in the world. The cars also use a 900-volt electrical system, which is higher than the already powerful 800-volt system used in the Porsche Taycan. A higher voltage allows for easier current flow through the wires, so a vehicle can use more electricity without the need for thicker and heavier cables.
Make it a business
Lucid won’t make the T21, Rawlison said, because it’s a luxury car brand and the T21 would be anything but a luxury model. Rawlinson is more interested in other automakers licensing the technology behind the T21. It doesn’t make it sound particularly appealing, however.
“I doubt my shareholders want me to do this because it’s a terrible business model,” he said. “You’re doing the T21 project, it’s like high volume, low margin.”
However, another company may want to take advantage of the technology, he said. Many automakers are in the high volume, low margin business and produce more cheap cars than a few luxury vehicles. Perhaps someone who has lagged behind in converting to electric cars could use some help to get into the market quickly with advanced technology.
Meanwhile, Lucid has started working on its own competitor, the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, which Rawlinson calls Platform 2. These vehicles will cost around $ 45,000. Further cost savings are possible, he said.
“I’m telling you we’ll be able to get a $ 20,000 car,” he said.