I drove the $180,000 Lucid Air. It solved my EV range anxiety and charged faster than I've ever seen.
I drove the Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance, a $180,000 electric sedan.
The luxury car can charge incredibly quickly. It added 100 miles of range in just six minutes.
The Air is also the longest-range EV money can buy.
Two of the biggest pain points keeping Americans from embracing electric vehicles are lengthy charging times and the fear of not having enough range to get places. But what if there was a car that made both of those problems disappear?
That vehicle exists, and it's called the Lucid Air. Living with the California startup's wildly impressive sedan for a few days this month showed me just how smooth and stress-free owning an EV can be when range is abundant and charging times are lightning fast.
If only living with all EVs was this easy.
The Air, Lucid's first model and its only one thus far, is the longest-range EV on sale in the US, earning an EPA rating of 516 miles. That's for the Grand Touring model. The Grand Touring Performance version Lucid lent me trades away some range for extra horsepower and comes in at 446 miles.
That's still plenty to challenge even the strongest bladders and handily beats the next-best option, the 405-mile Tesla Model S.
Seeing that caliber of mileage reading in the Air's screen amounts to a chill pill for range anxiety. It makes things feel a lot more like the gas-car experience than something new and scary. Unlike in some lower-range EVs, I didn't need to think too hard about my next fill up or where it might happen.
I started out with 443 miles of estimated range. After a 120-mile round trip to a friend's place that included lots of driving to and fro and lots of energy-draining acceleration demonstrations (which the sedan's 1,050 horsepower made irresistible), I got back home with 230 miles of estimated range remaining. That's the entire range of some Porsche Taycan models.
Keep in mind, though, that EPA estimates don't always pan out perfectly in the real world.
Charging at lightning speed
When the Lucid's battery did eventually start to run low, charging it was a breeze.
I routed to an Electrify America charging station and switched on battery preconditioning in the Lucid's touchscreen when I was about 20 minutes away. Preconditioning brings an EV's battery to the ideal temperature for fast charging, and it's not available in all cars.
I chose a location with 350-kilowatt chargers, since the Air is rated to accept up to 300 kW of charging power and I wanted to use the car's full potential. More kilowatts equal faster charging, and the Air is one of a few vehicles that can charge at 300 kW or more.
After plugging in, the Air started charging in about 15 seconds. It has Plug & Charge capability at Electrify America stations, meaning you can set up your vehicle to charge without needing to tap a credit card or use an app. The seamless process reminded me of charging a Tesla.
(While drivers of most EVs rely on a hodgepodge of charging providers and need to fumble with an app or credit card, Tesla owners can just plug into one of the company's proprietary Superchargers while payment happens automatically.)
Immediately, the Air started charging at just over 300 kW, and the miles piled on remarkably quickly. Five minutes of charging added 80 miles of range. Ten minutes added 140 miles. During the brief 12 minutes I spent parked, the Air charged from 19% to 51% and slurped up 158 miles of estimated range.
That's still not as brief or effective as a gas stop, but it's darn quick compared to most of the EV market and is a game changer for road trips. With a few exceptions like the Tesla Model S and Hyundai Ioniq 5, most of today's electric cars would take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to add that many miles.
The elephant in the room here is price. The Air Grand Touring Performance I tested costs an eye-watering $180,000. The entry-level Air Pure offers many of the same capabilities but will still run you $90,000. Not exactly accessible to anyone without a trust fund or an MBA.
Let's all hope the technology trickles down to the commoners over time.
Read the original article on Business Insider