Putting on Airs: Lucid Needs to Sell More EVs, but How?

black 2024 lucid air on twisty road
Puttin on Airs: Lucid Needs to Sell More CarsLucid
  • Lucid wants to sell more of its Air sedans, so it's offering a sub-$70k model, a $649-a-month lease, and as much performance as you can afford.

  • Lucid is on track to deliver the first Gravity SUVs later this year and even showed a midsize crossover under a tarp, saying it will arrive in 2026.

  • But there is plenty of really good competition among all-electric luxury performance sedans, so it won't be exactly easy.

It's perhaps the most efficient passenger car ever made, with a range of up to 516 miles, 0-60 mph in under two seconds, and a luxury feel among the best in the market. So why aren't more people buying Lucid Airs?


Lucid says it produced 8428 of its Air sedans in 2023 and delivered 6001 to customers. In the first quarter of this year, it lists 1748 cars produced and 1967 delivered. Deliveries were up nearly 40% year over year, the carmaker said, and up more than 13% quarter over quarter. (Automotive News says Lucid sold 600 cars in the first quarter of 2024, so pick your source material.)

The competition is doing better, at least Tesla is. In that same first quarter of 2024, Tesla sold 168,500 vehicles, and 6000 of those were the Lucid Air’s main competitor, the Model S. That's ten times more Models S than Lucids Air.

The rest of the competition is not doing much better than Lucid when it comes to moving luxury electric sedans out showroom doors. In that same first quarter of this year, Mercedes sold 1023 EQE electric sedans and 817 EQS EVs. Audi moved 776 e-tron GTs, Porsche 1247 Taycans, and BMW, well, AN doesn't break out how many BMW 7-Series sales were of the all-electric i7.

Cadillac was more successful than most in the segment, selling 5800 all-electric Lyrics.

So apart from the Tesla juggernaut, EV sales in the luxury/performance category are not what you’d call "huge."

2024 lucid air on hilly road
Does that C-pillar look stylish?Lucid

Lucid wants to give its sedan sales a boost while development continues on the big, beautiful Gravity all-electric SUV. Lucid also showed us a coming midsize crossover, sort of, without offering any details on the vehicle. But the midsize model should be relatively inexpensive, judging by the cheapest Air sedan, and it should share much of the same efficiencies of the rest of the Lucid line. But we don't know much about it yet.

For now, the company needs to sell more Airs, before the Air Apparent Lucid Gravity SUV comes online later this year. The market's crazy for crossovers, so once the Gravity hits showrooms, as has been the case when almost all luxury/performance carmakers started offering an SUV, sales should take off. Right?

Lucid is fully funded by the Saudi government's Public Investment Fund and a handful of other investors, so it's by no means desperate. It doesn't appear to be in financial trouble. And the factory is working overtime expanding and setting up for Gravity.

One thing it wants to do is get more people aware that it exists. Car enthusiasts know about Lucid, but much of the population apparently doesn’t. So they flew me and a bunch of my fellow press dopes up to company headquarters in Silicon Valley to show us around and let us drive all four models of the Lucid Air sedan.

The biggest news for 2024 is an improved Grand Touring model, one of the four Lucid Air models available, along with the Air Pure, Air Touring, and the rip-snortin’ Sapphire (more on that in a minute).

The 2024 Grand Touring can really tour, with an EPA range of 516 miles between charges, better than any production car in the world. For greater efficiency the model now gets a heat pump for heating and cooling instead of resistance heating and traditional air conditioning, Lucid said. It also receives enhancements to its motor design, battery chemistry, and thermal characteristics for greater efficiency, as well as faster charging – about 15-30 percent faster on Level 3 DC charging.

"The Air Grand Touring is our longest-range car—in fact the longest-range EV available today—and is now further optimized with a multitude of powertrain updates, including the Air Sapphire heat pump," said Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO of Lucid. "The Air Grand Touring has retained its 516-mile range estimate, achieving this despite more-stringent EPA testing. More importantly, it delivers improved range and efficiency in a broader range of everyday, real-world conditions."

But it costs $109,900.

Fear not, Lucid’s ace in the hole is that you can get a Lucid Air Pure, which almost no one will know is Lucid’s entry level model, for just $69,900. Now through April 30 they’ll knock $5000 of that sticker “for vehicles available on-site at your local studio at the time of order.” 18-month leases are $649/month (with $3149 due at signing.)

You have $649, don’t you?

2024 lucid air driving on pavement
The Air is inconspicuous.Lucid

We got to drive all four Lucid Airs in the scenic coastal mountains between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz, California, starting in the parking lot across the street from Alice’s Restaurant made famous in—or maybe just named for—the Arlo Guthrie song.

I started out in the bargain Air Pure, getting lost immediately and winding up on Big Basin Way around Castle Rock, surrounded by enormous redwoods. The Pure has the smallest battery of the four models at 88 kWh, but it's good for 419 miles of EPA range, so I wasn't too worried.

On that twisty one-and-a-half-lane road the Pure hid its 4536 pounds well. The instant torque of its single 430-hp rear-drive electric motor pushed it right out of tight turn after tight turn all morning.

2024 lucid air interior
Lucid still has buttons—it’s not just a single screen.Lucid

The best thing about the Pure is that the only way you can tell it's Lucid's cheapest model is by getting real close to the rear corner and squinting. "Air," it says in the smallest, most inconspicuous script ever put on a car.

I found Hwy. 9, then Skyline Blvd., then Alice's and jumped into the king grunion of all Lucids, the Sapphire. This one has three motors—two in back and one in front, balanced by an algorithm that helps stabilize the car in corners and deliver maximum torque to any wheel that has traction. Throw in independent regenerative braking and you almost can't screw up. Lucid uses the three electric motors in the Sapphire to really balance the car at its limit.

"This is the really fun thing about torque vectoring," said Esther Unti, senior manager of calibration and torque validation. "The limit's easy to find in a lot of cars, because they'll feel kind of linear until they understeer, or maybe like an S2k (Honda S2000) or something it'll feel linear until it oversteers. But with torque vectoring you can make it continue to follow the steering wheel regardless of whether you're on throttle or off throttle, and we can choose what we want it to do. We've tried to keep making it follow the steering wheel all the way up to the limit. It doesn't fall off and it doesn't feel like it starts to understeer, because it's just, linear."

a dark gray lucid air car on a road
The Sapphire has 1234 hp.Lucid

The Sapphire also has 1234 hp and gets to 60 mph in 1.89 seconds, while still maintaining 427 miles of EPA-certified range. I had been so satisfied with the performance of the Pure that I was all ready to say you don’t need to spend the $249,000 for the Sapphire, until I went through the first curve in the Sapphire on La Honda Road (the correct route) and felt the grip, composure and sure-footed glee with which this model attacked anything with a twist.

Whoooooo doggies!

You haven't driven a luxury sedan with this much precision and grip since your BMW M5. In any of the car's drive modes it is simply stunning. Is it worth a quarter million dollars? Heck yes it is, especially since I'm spending your money here.

I drove the Grand Touring and the Touring, too, and they were also good. Both have dual-motor AWD drivetrains, with the Grand Touring quickest to 60 mph by four tenths at 3.0 seconds and also winning in range with that well-documented 516 miles versus the Touring's 411 miles. The Grand Touring's also "only" $109,900 compared to the Touring's $77,900.

But the thing I came away with was that you'd be happy in any of these. The only constraint is budget. And for that you simply set priorities. The kids can go to state schools can't they?

Of course, you'd be happy in most of the competition, too. This is a great time to be shopping for an electric luxury performance sedan. And soon, for a luxury electric SUV. As Arlo Guthrie sang, "You can get anything you want…"

Which of the numerous luxury electric performance sedans do you like? Tell us below.