The American-made Tesla Model S finally has a homegrown (if not home-owned) rival in the Lucid Air
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Nearly four years since this writer first tapped out a yarn on the original concept, the 2021 Lucid Air is ready to buy – in the Northern Hemisphere, at least.

Evolving out of its roots as the battery technology company Atieva, Lucid initially claimed it would begin production of the Air in 2018, as a direct rival to the Tesla Model S.

It hasn't occurred right on schedule, but the Lucid Air is finally ready to roll – and even after all these years, the Model S remains its most obvious rival.

The Air's design was led by Derek Jenkins, a former Mazda stylist who played a part in the look of the current ND MX-5 roadster. Incredibly, the final production car is largely identical to the concept revealed in 2016 – suggesting, really, it was barely a concept at all.

There's an SUV coming, too, although the company has yet to offer details on that model. You can see photos of it at the bottom of this story.


Pricing

Keen Aussies can put down a deposit on the Lucid Air if they want to – Lucid won't knock back our dollarydoos – but, for now, the company has yet to offer any clear picture of its intentions beyond North America, Europe and the Middle East.

In the US, the Air kicks off from US$72,500 with the US$7500 Federal Tax Credit applied – working out to $99,730 in Australian money. We have no significant financial incentives here, though, so the US$80,000/AU$110,075 base price is a more relevant number for us.

The base-model Air won't be available until sometime in 2022, however, and the next-up US$95,000 Air Touring is nearly as distant with a fourth-quarter 2021 schedule.

Buyers looking to be among the first seen in a Lucid will need to stump up for the US$139,000 Air Grand Touring, which comes to $191,230 in Australia dollars.


In Australia, the Tesla Model S ranges in price from $141,811 for the Long Range model to $161,311 for the Performance model, including Australia's Luxury Car Tax (not factored into the Lucid pricing) and before on-road costs, which vary by state, or $124,990 to $139,990 respectively before local taxes and duties are applied.


Specifications

Specifications for the base Air are still to be confirmed, leaving us with the Air Touring to consider.

For the Air Touring, Lucid claims a driving range of up to 653 kilometres (406 miles), with 456kW at your disposal. This model lists a 0-60mph (97km/h) time of 3.2 seconds, dashing through the quarter mile (400m) in 11.4 seconds and onto a top speed of 155mph (250km/h).

Step up to the Air Grand Touring and those numbers climb to 832km and 588kW, with 0-97km/h and 400m times of 3 and 10.8 seconds respectively. Top speed is 270km/h.

At the top of the line-up is the Air Dream Edition, listing driving ranges of 748km on 21-inch wheels and 809km on 19-inch wheels.

Power in the Air Dream Edition is listed at 794kW, with a 0-97km/h time of 2.5 seconds and 9.9-second sprint to the quarter mile.

That's all fairly impressive, but Lucid has a bigger claim: up to 20 miles of regained driving range for every minute of charging, translating to 483km in 20 minutes of charging.

Lucid describes a 113kWh battery pack for its top model, but details on the capacity of its lower-end models are still to be revealed. A 75kWh battery in the base Air model has been reported elsewhere.

All models are a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive design.

Inside, the Air features a 34-inch curved 5K display, along with a retractable 'Pilot Panel' in the centre console offering additional fingertip controls of the vehicle's functions for driver and passenger alike.

Like Tesla, the Lucid Air boasts a number of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) with 32 sensors across vision, radar and ultrasonics, along with a high-resolution LIDAR system.

Combined with geo-fenced high-definition mapping, Lucid claims the Air is capable of advanced Level 2 and Level 3 autonomous driving assistance.

Lucid claims a segment-biggest 'frunk' or front storage space, with 280 litres available, along with 739 litres of space in the boot.


Without going into a full comparison, the Model S in Australia is offered as standard with a 100kWh battery pack and dual-motor all-wheel drive, a claimed driving range of up to 713km (Long Range model), a quickest 0-100km/h time of 2.5 seconds (Performance model).


“With the Lucid Air, we have created a halo car for the entire industry, one which shows the advancements that are possible by pushing the boundaries of EV technology and performance to new levels," says Peter Rawlinson, Lucid's CEO and Chief Technical Officer.

If you're keen to tinker and design a Lucid Air of your own, the company's online configurator is now live.

The Lucid Air will be built at the US$700 million Lucid Motors factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, in the USA. The plant is initially scheduled to turn out around 20,000 cars per year, eventually ramping up to 130,000 per year. Its maximum capacity is 380,000 vehicles per year.

Lucid is headquartered in California, but the company – previously backed mostly by Chinese interests – is 67 per cent owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Other investors include Venrock, Mitsui, and JAFCO.


Here's the upcoming Lucid SUV