The Barrier-Breaking 2022 Lucid Air Is the New Luxury Standard

January 31, 2022
2022 Lucid Air

For years, electric vehicle skeptics have had three big demands that would be needed to win them over: range like a traditional vehicle, faster charging, and affordability. With the arrival of the ultra-luxury Lucid Air, the emerging EV-only automaker has achieved two of these three goals. One could argue that luxury vehicle consumers fall into one of two categories: those who prefer classic, traditional luxury, and those who like to experience the latest and greatest in technology and powertrain integration. The 2022 Lucid Air without a doubt falls into the latter category. Here’s our YAA first look at the electric newcomer moving the goal posts in the battery-powered range wars. 

The 2022 Lucid Air Has Tesla Roots

2022 Lucid Air

When engineer Peter Rawlinson left Tesla in 2012, the automaker now synonymous with EVs was just getting started. The early success of Tesla was in part due to the efforts of Rawlinson, who served as Vehicle Engineer for the development of the Model S, the first Tesla model to make it mainstream. Citing the need to care for his ailing mother, and a boss that wasn’t treating him too well (as he puts it), Rawlinson left the company just as Model S sales were ramping up. 

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But he would soon return to the automotive startup scene, this time as Chief Technical Officer of Lucid Motors in 2013. By 2019, he was CEO. His tenure at Lucid has seen the flagship model, dubbed the Air, make it from sketches and prototypes to the first customer deliveries in late 2021. Now that the 2022 Lucid Air is in production at the new AMP-1 site in Casa Grande, Arizona, drivers and engineers are marveling at the innovation and specs.

The 2022 Lucid Air: The New Range King

2022 Lucid Air

When Lucid announced the 2022 Lucid Air would have a range of up to 520 miles on a single charge, not everyone believed it was possible. Now that at least one independent range test squeezed 500.1 miles out of a single charge going 70 mph on the highway, the range wars are heating up.

No other automaker can claim a 500-mile EPA rating as of early 2022. Tesla’s Model S comes closest at 405 miles of rated range. The all-new Mercedes EQS luxury EV is rated for 350 miles of range, however Edmunds drove the EQS a full 422 miles in their test loop. For now, the Lucid Air reigns supreme. 

The Air’s exceptional range is made possible by a drag coefficient of 0.21 (lower than even Tesla models) and a very large 118 kWh battery pack. That massive battery is responsible for a large portion of the 5,200 pound weight of the Air. That’s heavier than a Ford F-150

Raising the Bar: 406-520 Miles

2022 Lucid Air

Not all trims of the Air are rated over 500 miles. The ‘base’ trim (if you could really call it that) is estimated to be rated for 406 miles. That’s just one mile over the Tesla Model S long-range. If that’s not a shot at Tesla, I don’t know what is.

The debut Lucid Air Dream Edition is rated for 471 – 520 miles of range. With enough power for a 2.5 second 0-60 time, bested only by the Tesla Model S Plaid in the EV segment. Actually, very few cars period can claim such reality-warping acceleration. Unfortunately, the Air Dream Edition is no longer officially open for reservations. If you’re in the market for a state-of-the-art $169,000 luxury EV with supreme performance, Lucid says you can join the waitlist. 

The next best thing is the Air Grand Touring, which now lists for $139,000. Clearly, Lucid Air pricing is unabashedly premium. The Air doesn’t flirt with the more economical price points that even Tesla wades into in the sub-$50,000 range. At least with the Lucid Air’s pricing, the target market segment is as clear as its panoramic roof. Here’s the full breakdown of trim levels for the 2022 Lucid Air.

Powerful Performance 

2022 Lucid Air

Not only is the 2022 Lucid Air the longest-range EV on the market, it’s also one of the most powerful in the world with up to 1,111 horsepower and 1,390 lb-ft of torque in the Air Dream Edition. The less extravagant (and a bit less expensive) Air Pure still cranks out 480 horsepower from a single rear-wheel drive motor.

Behind the Air’s snappy performance is a compact yet innovative electric motor. Lucid’s team thought outside of the box, the electric motor box that is. They engineered the motor for better thermal management (essential in EVs) and triple the power density of competitors.

The Air’s electric powertrain was designed and developed in-house. The Air’s 900-volt electrical system is bidirectional. That means the Air can power household electronics and can even lend a “jump charge” to other EVs. The Air is capable of 19.2 kW of level-2 home charging, far higher than the competition. Most EV charging is done at home, so this is an overlooked feat of the Lucid Air’s engineering.  At DC fast chargers, the Air can accept 300kW (or more) with the Air’s 800 volt architecture. More on that below.

Superior Fast-Charging

2022 Lucid Air

Gone are the days of EVs taking an hour of charging to make it the next 200 miles. Unless you buy a Chevrolet Bolt (please don’t buy a Chevy Bolt). Most 2022 model year electric vehicles can gain over 200 miles of range in about 30-40 minutes at a fast-charger.

The Lucid Air goes above and beyond. In just 20 minutes, the Air can add 300 miles of range at a DC fast charger like those at Electrify America stations. Plus, the Air comes with three years of free charging at Electrify America. The Air can accept up to 300 kW speeds at 800 volts. That’s the best in the market for now, and is surely a feat of battery thermal-management engineering. Tom Moloughney of InsideEVs confirmed these spectacular charging specs. 

Lucid Air Pricing

The 2022 Lucid Air starts at $77,400, but most buyers will likely opt for the Touring and Grand Touring trims, which easily exceed well beyond $100,000. 

TrimPriceRangeHorsepowerDrivetrain
Air Pure$77,400406 mi480 HPRWD
Air Touring$95,000406 mi620 HPAWD
Grand Touring$139,000516 mi800 HPAWD
Dream Edition*$169,000520 mi1,111 HPAWD

*The Dream Edition is not currently available for ordering.

Interior and Tech: 5K screens, OTA Updates and All You Could Ask For

Stepping into the Lucid Air is perhaps the most science fiction-turned-reality experience you can buy. The unreal clarity of the ‘glass cockpit’ display is made possible by a 34-inch, 5K floating screen that sweeps around the driver, curving like the cockpit of a jet. It puts essential information into the driver’s sightline, with vehicle controls to the left, driving details in the center, and navigation and media to the right. An optional solid glass roof spans the entire cabin almost without interruption. It’s a more surreal view than even the Tesla glass roofs, except for maybe the Model X.

Lucid Motors has equipped all Air trims with Lucid DreamDrive, an advanced driver-assistance system. Lucid Motors claims that DreamDrive is the only driver assistance technology with the combination of an advanced sensor suite, high-resolution LIDAR, a driver monitoring system, and a fully redundant platform. Surreal Sound, Lucid Air’s immersive audio system, is powered by 21 speakers with Dolby Atmos technology, a first for autos.

Interior Space

On Lucid’s website, they boldly state “Cabin? More like mansion.” While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, an abundance of space welcomes drivers and passengers alike. About 98 cubic feet of passenger space is plenty big for a sedan. Seats, dash trims, and most other materials are sustainably sourced yet undeniably premium, as they should be for the price. Massaging seats are an option, but it’s kind of ridiculous that they’re not included with the $80,000+ car. The rear cabin fits three adults with segment-leading amounts of legroom. An optional Executive Rear Seating Package offers reclining rear seats. You know, private jet style. An optional Executive Rear Seating Package (with later availability) will offer a jet-style experience for two that lets you recline way back.

Plenty of Storage

First of all, the Lucid Air’s frunk, or front trunk, is the largest of any electric car at 10 cubic feet. The actual trunk is decently-sized at 16.2 cubic feet. However, it has some tricks up its sleeve. The trunk opens up to the rear cabin, making it possible to fit large items that normally a luxury sedan can’t handle. 

Over-the-Air Updates

The 2022 Lucid Air receives over-the-air updates through its secure and high-speed Ethernet-Ring data network. Lucid plans to have full OTA functionality, meaning that updates to vehicle performance will be possible. So far, only Tesla has repeatedly and successfully upgraded vehicle range and performance for existing customers. Many legacy OEMs can update infotainment via OTA updates, but some still require a service center visit. 

How Does the 2022 Lucid Air Compare?

2022 Tesla Model S

We’ve already established that the Air is the ultimate highway warrior with EPA rated range of up to 520 miles. But how does the Lucid Air stack up to the competition? Is the Lucid Air better than a Tesla? We’ll let the specs speak for themselves. This vehicle is still so new to the market that it’s too early to draw conclusions with regards to reliability, but here’s how performance and price measure up to Tesla, Mercedes, and other luxury electric vehicles. 

PriceRangeHorsepowerCharging*Cargo Volume
Air Pure$77,400406 mi480 HP300 mi/20 mins26 cubic feet
Air Touring$95,000406 mi620 HP300 mi/20 mins26 cubic feet
Air Grand Touring$139,000516 mi800 HP300 mi/20 mins26 cubic feet
Air Dream Edition$169,000520 mi1,111 HP300 mi/20 mins26 cubic feet
Tesla Model S $94,990405 mi670 HP200 mi/15 mins25 cubic feet
Tesla Model S Plaid$129,990396 mi1,020 HP200 mi/15 mins25 cubic feet
Mercedes EQS 580$119,110340 mi516 HP300 mi/31 mins25 cubic feet
Porsche Taycan$187,600260 mi751 HP195 mi/23 mins14 cubic feet
* Charging estimates are provided by automakers as select examples of capability. Hence, the differences seen here in charge time.

With the Lucid Air pricing exceeding that of the popular and proven Tesla Model S, it’s a relief that so much range, luxury and performance is included. The only fault we see here is reliability. It’s simply too early to know how the Air will fare over time. The fact that Lucid has Tesla roots provides some comfort for the wary car buyer. Despite frequent fit and finish blunders and the occasional abysmal rating, Tesla actually has a solid reliability record when it comes to battery and powertrain performance over time and mileage.

How Can I Buy a Lucid Air?

If you’re sold on the 2022 Lucid Air, you can make a refundable deposit at Lucid’s website. The reservation deposit is $300 for the base Air Pure, and $1,000 for higher trims. As of early 2022, all except the debut Dream Edition are available for order. 

YAA’s Take

The 2022 Lucid Air is the premier luxury electric vehicle for the time being. It may not have Tesla’s Supercharger network, but it has superior range, infotainment and luxury qualities. This is Lucid’s first powertrain, so time will tell if reliability and longevity are just as impressive. 

Despite its strengths, this EV is still a niche product. The price alone will likely limit the popularity of this magnificent luxury EV. With Lucid Air pricing starting at $77,400, at least you know you’ll get your money’s worth. Is it the best luxury EV on the market today? It’s too soon to tell. Hopefully, YAA will get behind the wheel of the Air soon. 

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