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Lucid unveils 745kW Tesla rival

Air swing: Lucid’s first product, a sedan called Air, is expected to be offered in at least two levels when it arrives in early 2019.

US electric vehicle start-up Lucid shows off a breath of fresh Air

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15 Dec 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

TESLA Motors, your disruptor is here.

Silicon Valley-based electric vehicle start-up Lucid Motors has unveiled a prototype of its first product, a luxury sedan called Air, that it claims will boast power of up to 745kW and a driving range of up to 640 kilometres when deliveries start in early 2019.

Penned by former Audi and Mazda designer Derek Jenkins and developed by a team led by former Tesla Model S chief engineer Peter Rawlinson, the Air has been designed to gazump existing high-end electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model S.

Lucid, which grew out of American battery company Atieva, plans to manufacture the car at an all-new $US700 million ($A937m) factory to be built in Arizona next year.

It is being designed from the outset to be capable of autonomous driving with minimal driver input, regulations permitting.

As GoAuto reported last month, Lucid has locked in trademark protection for its name in Australia, indicating that it intends to follow Tesla into this market at some point.

Lucid claims its batteries – developed in league with Samsung SDI – not only offer best-in-class energy density but a unique chemistry that provides “breakthrough tolerance to repeated fast charging”.

“While many batteries age prematurely if fast-charged regularly, you can fast charge a Lucid battery at will without worries,” it says in the blurb accompanying pictures of the new model released overnight.

The company is also claiming “world-class performance in acceleration, driving range and efficiency” from the drivetrain developed in-house by Lucid engineers in California’s Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco.

The “truly integrated system” is said to be smaller than rivals’ offerings.

Although no performance figures were disclosed, Lucid has a 671kW prototype powertrain in a Mercedes-Benz Vito van that apparently has been clocked at 2.7 seconds in the 0-60 miles per hour (96.5km/h) sprint.

Tesla’s flagship Tesla S P100D is said to zap from zero to 100km/h in 2.7 seconds and cover 613km.

The Air will put the power to the tarmac via all-wheel drive, which points to electric drive motors front and rear.

The car will come in at least two specifications, with the launch vehicle armed with a 100kWh battery pack that promises “in excess of 300 miles” (480km) of driving range and 1000 horsepower (745kW).

Later, the company promises a 130kWh version that will deliver 400 miles (640km) or driving range.

The first-year sales target in 2019 is between 8000 and 10,000 units, rising to 50,000 to 60,000 by 2021.

Like Tesla and its Model 3, Lucid is taking customer deposits before production starts or final pricing is set. The first 255 examples of the special launch edition command a full refundable deposit of $US25,500 ($A34,444). The US media predicts this car will sell for about $160,000.

If that is a bit brisk, the standard version to follow – thought to be priced about $85,000 – can be reserved with a deposit of $US2500.

The Air featured in the photographs issued in the US show a fully equipped version with an optional panoramic glass roof and luxury rear “executive” seats that recline like airline seats and are cloaked in perforated leather.

So far, orders are only being taken in the US and Canada.

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