Tesla Owners, Will Lucid Make Your Next Electric Car?
If things go right for Lucid Motors, This specific lesser-known California automaker could be poised to challenge Tesla‘s prominence as Silicon Valley’s preferred EV producer. which’s looking very much like a Ford-versus-Chevrolet–style crosstown rivalry inside producing. Lucid, formerly known as Atieva, is usually in Menlo Park, next door to Palo Alto where Tesla is usually headquartered, in addition to Lucid’s chief technology officer—the one spearheading development of the brand-new brand’s electric luxury sedan—is usually Peter Rawlinson, the former chief engineer of the Tesla style S.
Rawlinson, a veteran of Lotus in addition to Jaguar, has brought along many via the original style S team in addition to added fresh faces to address the rapid confluence of technology in addition to mobility. however he swears which Lucid isn’t doing a remake of the style S. All which experience on the team boosts the chances of seeing a not bad—perhaps great—car through to production.
Rawlinson conceived Lucid’s sedan as one which at last embraces the spatial in addition to packaging freedom afforded by an all-electric powertrain. He says the style S too closely followed traditional long-hood, cabin-back sports-sedan proportions, so Rawlinson sought out former Mazda North America director of design Derek Jenkins to establish a concept which breaks free of those constraints.
Getting Rid of the Combustion Cues
Jenkins, who helped pen the current Mazda MX-5 Miata in addition to contributed to the design of most current Mazdas—including the brand-new CX-9—mused which EV powertrain technology has miniaturized to the point which Lucid’s 0-hp rear motor in addition to transmission would certainly fit into the space commercial airlines allow for a carry-on bag. Jenkins posited: “How can which not profoundly change the design of the automobile? which’s what nobody else has done to This specific point.
“The idea which I’m going to package This specific 100-year-old vertical radiator at the front of the automobile to tell people I have to work actually hard to be high performance, This specific notion of the automobile, which will change, particularly via electrification,” Jenkins said. Likewise, Jenkins called the use of a long hood to establish performance credentials “legacy thinking.”
Jenkins’s design marries the cabin length in addition to Inside volume of a large luxury sedan—think of the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-class—within the overall length in addition to width of a mid-sizer like the E-class. At a recent private, no-cameras preview, C/D was shown one of the company’s “alpha prototypes.” Although we can’t show which to you in full, we can say which the design does indeed plow some brand-new ground, bringing a fresh sense of beauty in addition to contouring to a design which’s essentially cab forward in addition to delivering on its claims of phenomenal space in addition to legroom, front in addition to rear. “We’re looking at a much larger piece of the pie [compared with the style S], looking for a car which parks easily however allows the space of those long-wheelbase cars,” said Jenkins. “The electrification is usually enabling This specific combination of use attributes which nobody else is usually taking on. We see which not just as key to Lucid’s first product, however for future products as well.”
Years of EV Powertrain Development
To rewind a bit: Atieva had been around since 2007, however until the past 18 months or so, which was focused almost entirely on the development of battery power-pack technology. Much of which expertise is usually being applied both to its brand-new sedan, in addition to to racing, as which will be the sole battery-pack supplier for Formula E, in its fifth in addition to sixth seasons.
which has been working on its dual-motor all-wheel-drive system long enough to already be on the third generation of its inverter design—the electronic element which converts the battery pack’s DC power to three-phase AC for the propulsion motors. which’s testing its drivetrain in addition to batteries in Edna, a test mule built up via a Euro-spec Mercedes-Benz Metris van. The battery packs, inverters, motor systems, in addition to Centeng structure have all been developed entirely in-house, while some other aspects of the sedan have meant forging brand-new supplier relationships.
The design in addition to engineering of the Centeng in white—the chassis structure without the powertrain, suspension, doors, or fenders—was locked in a few weeks ago. which’s made mostly of aluminum with some limited use of high-strength steel. Rawlinson said the stiffness is usually “way beyond what we did before” [with the style S], in addition to which weighs less. He teased the sedan’s “beguiling dynamics,” noting which the suspension development is usually under the direction of an engineer who worked on Subaru’s World Rally Championship winners.
Straight-line performance could challenge which of the Tesla style S P100D. The test mule Edna is usually about 1000 pounds heavier than the actual production car, however Lucid claims to have pushed its drivetrain’s output as high as 1200 horsepower to achieve zero-to-60-mph times under the 2.7-second mark. which further says which 2.9-second times are reproducible as long as the battery’s charged; the biggest obstacle has been broken half-shafts in addition to CV joints carried over with Edna’s Mercedes chassis.
Rapid Progress for Fast Charging
Lucid claims its battery chemistry will be the “secret sauce” which enables efficient packaging, stable temperatures, in addition to consistent performance. which plans to build its own battery packs with smaller-format cylindrical cells via a supplier (either the 18650-format size which Tesla uses or the somewhat larger 21700 size), using proprietary cell chemistry. Mission: the ability to fast-charge daily in addition to maintain 80 percent of the original capacity after 1000 full-charge cycles.
“which was something I would certainly have thought was impossible last year, however we’re producing very rapid progress,” said Lucid’s director of battery technology, Albert Liu. “We actually emphasized which in addition to pushed our suppliers to come up which has a custom chemistry which is usually very suitable for repeated fast charging.”
While developers at some other automakers typically have one team working on power electronics in addition to another on thermal effects, Rawlinson said, Lucid has them working together to develop an integrated system. “which’s called multi-physics. which’s world leading,” he claimed, adding, “in addition to This specific means a more compact pack with extraordinary energy density in addition to a shape which’s configured around the demands of the occupant space of the vehicle.” Rawlinson pointed back to the style S in addition to said which driving range was the Holy Grail. however currently, he says, the brand-new Holy Grail for EVs is usually duty cycle.
“The best analogy I can make is usually inside aircraft industry—how many hours of the day is usually which plane inside air? How quickly can you turn which plane around? The advent of the Uber in addition to Lyft style is usually going to demand an electric car which can be rapidly charged in addition to is usually tolerant of rapid, repeated Supercharging [fast charging],” Rawlinson said.
In standard form, Rawlinson promised, the automobile will have an EPA-rated driving range of more than 300 miles per full charge—in addition to he hinted which a special style may reach 400 miles.
F1-influenced Aero in addition to brand-new Lighting Ideas
The shape of the sedan was finessed by an expert hired via the Red Bull Formula 1 racing team; which employs a brand-new vortex induction system. Air enters through a very smaller opening in addition to swirls into a vortex. This specific throws the air via the vortex into a more even distribution onto the radiators for better cooling with less drag.
Lucid is usually pushing for advanced headlights which fit into smaller (1.2 by 0.4 inch) modules. They’d make 12,000 microbeams in each array, with each beam computer controlled among thousands of focal lengths to create a three-dimensional light field. These would certainly comply with regulations while delivering 50 percent more visible light.
Ready for Voice Commands, Autonomous Operation, in addition to Sharing
The Lucid sedan will have a natural-language voice system developed in-house, led by user-experience chief Jared Strawderman, who previously managed the team which developed the voice experience for Amazon’s Alexa. The system will employ highly customizable displays combined with machine-learning strategies to identify tasks you’d routinely do in addition to then make suggestions—for example, giving traffic advice if which knows which you typically leave work earlier on a particular day.
Active noise cancellation will use 10 speakers (the top sound system has 29) to quell background sounds, while four beam-formed microphones aimed at different occupant zones will ensure which the voice-recognition system hears clearly. Strawderman promises which This specific system will be better than any in-vehicle voice interface currently on the market—in addition to will be reliable for autonomous driving in addition to car sharing among various users.
The vehicle will also be capable of autonomous driving via launch, with all cars getting an array which combines ultrasonic sensors, short- in addition to long-range radar sensors, surround radar, short- in addition to long-range camera sensing, in addition to lidar. which’s designed, Lucid claims, for Level 4 autonomous-driving capability.
U.S. First, however Ready for China
The company insists which at This specific time which intends to build its sedan only inside United States, although which has been considering joint ventures in China for cars to be sold in which market. China is usually the next market to be targeted after an initial sales launch inside United States toward the end of 2018; after which, Lucid is usually looking at Europe.
Manufacturing director Brian Barron vouched for the plan’s viability. He was lured away via BMW’s South Carolina facility, where he oversaw the establishment of a brand-new production line for the X3 in addition to X4. Barron said the company will move on with breaking ground for its proposed (in addition to secret) U.S. factory location very quickly. He noted which production of 20,000 sedans annually inside first couple of years will take up more space than which should—about 2 million square feet. At the slow startup pace, there’d be a lot of manual assembly, however space is usually being allotted with an eye toward automated production in addition to a target volume of 130,000 vehicles after a few years.
The Menlo Park, California, firm has funding via Venrock, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, LeEco, in addition to Tsing Capital. LeEco plans to sell cars inside future however so far features a stronger bond with California EV upstart Faraday Future. Rawlinson points out which there’s no such majority stake for Lucid.
Manufacturing Base in addition to Dealerships? All Still TBA
Although the company claims to be on stable enough financial footing to develop the sedan in addition to see which through to production, pressing the executives about two matters revealed which the company is usually seeking more funding for key steps. One is usually retail: Lucid plans to skip the franchise style in favor of the direct-sales style used at Tesla, which is usually still sinking legal expenses into a state-by-state battle. Lucid may be able to avoid some mistakes Tesla made while benefiting via resolution of ongoing court cases. The some other hurdle is usually producing sure customers can charge their cars easily. Lucid is usually part of the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN) organization, based in Germany in addition to including BMW, Daimler, Opel, Porsche, in addition to Volkswagen, among others, which is usually aiming for standardization of CCS/Combo fast charging. Rawlinson said the Lucid car can charge at 400 volts in addition to will be ready for the upgrades afforded by higher-tier fast charging.
Left unanswered during our visit was the question of why the company is usually hesitating to announce the location of its proposed manufacturing plant. Time is usually tight if which is usually to make deliveries inside late-2018 timeframe. Tesla managed to make its first style S deliveries almost exactly two years after announcing the Fremont, California, plant decision.
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is usually This specific all so much smoke in addition to mirrors? Almost certainly not. The crew at Lucid features a unified vision for what amounts to a well-thought-out performance luxury sedan. Furthermore, which’s a team which appears to be taking the high road, with proper engineering in addition to research to back which all up in-house. Building cars as an independent isn’t for the faint of heart, however, in addition to automotive history shows a trail of casualties. This specific team of experts looks to develop the chops to pull which off, however then, which’s exactly what many were saying about Fisker inside early days.