Lucid Air - the Next Must-Have Coolness for Silicon Valley Billionaires

Automotive Weekly



A bill in California that would allow automakers, commercial truck manufacturers and rental car companies to bypass dealerships and sign month-to-month electric vehicle memberships directly with consumers failed to pass this week. The proposed law — Assembly Bill 326 — would have created a legal framework for EV memberships and allowed consumers access to EVs without financing or long-term commitments through a direct month-to-month agreement with the EV manufacturer. The measure's defeat on Tuesday in the California legislature is a big win and relief for franchised new-vehicle dealers in the state but a disappointment to some consumer and environmental organizations as well as EV startup Canoo, the sponsor of the bill.

Source: Automotive News


The average vehicle coming off a three-year lease has lost 52 percent of its value, but a Model 3 only loses about 10 percent, one study finds.

For people who buy new vehicles, expected depreciation can be an important factor in trying to estimate what their shiny new object will be worth in a few years. The U.S. used-car market in recent years has seen electric vehicles suffer from particularly high depreciation rates, but there's at least one EV that's done playing by the rules.

We've long known EVs are not a way to park money. EVs depreciated at something like $5700 a year in 2017 and, in 2016, five-year-old Nissan Leaf EVs were selling at around 11 percent of their original sticker price. Things aren't much better in 2020. According to numbers from a July study on three-year-old cars by iSeeCars, the average depreciation of all EVs coming off leases it looked at was 52 percent.

But not all EVs lose this much ground this fast. The Tesla Model S was at 36.3 percent and the Model X lost 33.9 percent, which also beat the average depreciation for all cars (both EVs and internal-combustion vehicles) coming off three-year leases this year, which was 39.1 percent. For trucks it was 34.3 percent, and for SUVs it was 39.7 percent. Those numbers make the Model 3's role as an outlier in iSeeCars' report all the more eye-popping. It depreciated just 10.2 percent.

There are a number of reasons for this. Tesla is—or at least appears to be—ahead of its competitors when it comes to battery technology and range, which makes its cars more desirable and keeps resale prices high, iSeeCars said. The downside of that strong demand, of course, is that finding a smashing deal on a used Model 3 is a challenge. Aside from the low depreciation rate, there just aren't that many available on the used market, according to iSeeCars. It gets worse, an analyst for CarGurus told Bloomberg News, because while the market for gasoline-powered sedans has plenty of options, "If you're looking for a Model 3, there's no substitute." The overall high rate of depreciation for EVs has many causes, from the rapid advance of new battery technology to the fact that some new-EV purchases are subsidized by the $7500 federal tax credit. Here again, Tesla stands out. The company has sold enough EVs that the full tax credits no longer apply to its new offerings. Also, its over-the-air software updates can give even used cars new features.

The electric vehicle advocacy group Plug In America says even though all car buyers have a lot to consider when buying used, it's easier for those looking to get an EV. "Since battery-electric vehicles have 10 times fewer moving parts than gas cars, the only major concern in purchasing or leasing a used EV is the quality of the battery," the group said.

Source: Car and Driver


PSA Group and the French energy company Total have signed an agreement to create a joint venture that will build battery cells at locations in France and Germany. The two companies have been working on the project since last year and announced the intent to form a joint venture in January.

PSA said Thursday that Yann Vincent, formerly head of industrial operations and supply chain, would be the CEO of the battery alliance, which will be called Automotive Cells Company, or ACC. Ghislain Lescuyer, the chairman of Total’s battery subsidiary Saft, will hold the same post at ACC. PSA and Total also released a number of details about the planned factories, which will be operational in 2023 and supply PSA Group vehicles from Peugeot, Citroen, DS Automobiles and Opel/Vauxhall -- and potentially cars from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is working toward a merger with PSA.

Batteries produced in the factories could eventually supply 1 million vehicles per year, PSA and Total said. One factory will be in Douvrin, France, and the other in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

PSA and Total have already set up an R&D center in Bordeaux, France, and are building a pilot plant in Nersac, France. The sites will start operations with a total capacity of 8 gigawatt-hours, increasing to 48 by 2030, PSA and Total said.

The project has received financing of 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) from the French and German governments, with total investment expected to be 5 billion euros ($5.9 billion).

PSA is working to create a vertical supply chain for electric vehicles through partnerships. Transmissions will be built with Punch Powertrain of Belgium, and electric motors built in an alliance with Nidec of Japan. CEO Carlos Tavares has said that having control of the EV supply chain could result in cost savings of 10 percent, an important efficiency with electric vehicles expected to produce lower margins than internal combustion ones in the coming years.

The battery joint venture "gives PSA Group a competitive advantage in the context of growing sales of electric vehicles," Tavares said in a statement on Thursday. 

Most EVs sold in Europe use battery cells built by Asian companies such as LG Chem and CATL, whether from factories in China, South Korea and Japan, or in European plants in the case of LG. But other entrants, including several startups, are poised to join the market by 2030 as stricter emissions rules drive demand for electric vehicles. 

Source: Automotive News


General Motors Co. shares jumped after the auto maker said it will help an electric-truck startup develop and manufacture new models, the latest example of investor infatuation with electric vehicles. GM said Tuesday that in exchange for its services it would take an 11% stake in Nikola Corp. a would-be rival in the market for electrified pickups. The deal marks the latest tie-up between traditional auto makers and upstarts trying to break into the car business, and also showcases GM’s strategy of providing its electric-vehicle technology to others.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


General Motors said Wednesday its upcoming electric vehicles will use a wireless battery-management system that helps get them to market faster and allows a common set of battery components to power a wide range of EVs. The battery system, developed with Analog Devices Inc., can be updated over-the-air to incorporate new technology quickly, improves range by reducing weight and allows used-up batteries to be converted into clean power generators, GM said. It will be standard on all vehicles powered by GM's proprietary Ultium batteries, including the GMC Hummer pickup coming in 2021 and the Cadillac Lyriq crossover due out in 2022.

Source: Automotive News


Former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn and four others must stand trial over serious fraud charges in Germany for their role in the diesel-rigging scandal that has cost the automaker more than 30 billion euros ($35 billion) so far. The former chief and four other managers were charged last year with equipping vehicles sold to customers with a so-called defeat device.

A court in Brunswick, Germany, allowed the case to proceed Wednesday, but modified some of the charges, saying the suspects could also be tried for acting as a criminal gang. "The fraud charges concern 9 million vehicles sold in Europe and the U.S.," the court said in an emailed statement. "Buyers may have lost 100 million euros."

VW and Winterkorn's lawyer Felix Doerr did not immediately reply to emails seeking comment.

The court dropped some minor charges, including breach of trust, against Winterkorn. The judges told prosecutors that they are likely to reject their demand to have the executive's bonus seized as part of the case.

Source: Bloomberg


Detroit automakers have long relied on in-house innovation for competitive advantages and bragging rights, but for next-generation electric and driverless technologies they are adopting a new strategy: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have plug-in electric vehicles and a dominant share of the U.S. pickup-truck market, but they have tapped outside expertise and companies lauded by investors as EV pioneers for some of their first battery-powered trucks.

Source: Bloomberg


The Dodge Challenger, BMW X6, Nissan Sentra and Genesis G70 led each segment in a J.D. Power study measuring multimedia quality and satisfaction. J.D. Power's redesigned 2020 U.S. Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study measures owner satisfaction with the quality, design and features of their vehicle's multimedia systems. The Challenger was the top performer overall, with the most satisfied owners and lessees. On a 1,000-point scale, the vehicle scored a 938.

Source: Automotive News


First Lucid Air model available will be loaded, sticker for $161,500

The Lucid Air Dream Edition won’t make it quite the claimed 517 miles range Lucid said it would, at least not in the launch edition. But it will go 503 miles if you get the 19-inch wheels. So what’s 14 miles range between friends? It is also going to cost considerably more than the “under $80,000” we’d heard, at least at first, when it’s launched in the second quarter of 2021. At launch the car available in Lucid showrooms is the Dream Edition, costing a whopping $161,500. Less-expensive trims will roll out over the next two years or so, including one less than $80,000.

Also, instead of the 130-kWh battery said to go 517 miles, the Dream Edition has a 113-kWh battery pack said to be tuned for performance over range. Why the sudden drops in range and battery capacity? “The Dream edition is a rare combination, a unique combination,” explained Lucid CEO and CFO Peter Rawlinson at a one-on-one technical briefing a couple weeks before the launch at the Lucid showroom in Beverly Hills. “It combines a perfect combination of performance and range.” The 503 miles is still well beyond that of Lucid’s chief rival Tesla. Its Model S can go 402 miles in “Long Range” trim. And if you really want it, you can get the 517-mile Lucid Air “in mid-'21,” Rawlinson promised. Other specs Lucid has already revealed about the car: 1,080 hp from front and rear motors; 0-60 in 2.5 seconds; quarter mile in 9.9 seconds; fast charging that gets you 300 miles range in 20 minutes; a 0.21 cD. The claim still on the Lucid consumer website that the car can go “over 200 MPH” was missing from the press release distributed at the car’s launch. The highest speed of any model listed there was 168 mph for the Dream Edition.

OK, let’s get over those “points.” There is a lot of technology packed into this luxury electric four-seater. Lucid claims the car will set benchmarks in several fields of EV development. Most are made possible by efficiencies throughout the various systems powering the car. For instance, the battery. Did you know Lucid makes the batteries for Formula E? There is a Formula E battery pack in the showroom in Beverly Hills about the size of that TV set you had in the late-70s or early 80s. The battery in the Lucid Air street car consists of various numbers of 21700-sized lithium ion battery cells. The 21700 batteries are slightly larger - 25.6% - than the old standard 18650 batteries but hold 43-percent more energy. Lucid purchases them from Sony Murata and packages them into Lucid’s trays under the car. Rawlinson was the original Tesla Model S' chief engineer, btw. They use a similar battery packaging philosophy. The battery tray under the car can be packed full of batteries or they can leave a space for the rear passenger’s footwell. Or they could be packaged for a shorter-range, lighter, less-expensive configuration that would go, say, 380 miles instead of 503 or 517. But they’re not exactly the same cells found in the race cars. “These are pure energy cells because we want to go for range and efficiency,” Rawlinson said, as he walked us from the battery display to a full-size drivetrain mockup.

“So that's the integrated power unit,” he said, pointing out a roundish unit that was in size somewhere between a coffee can and a fire hydrant, though closer to the coffee can. Inside was a permanent magnet electric motor, an inverter, an integrated transmission and a differential. It was a miracle of efficient packaging. Lucid calls it a “…state of the art, 900V+ electric drive unit that weighs just 163 lbs and is small enough to fit inside a standard airline carry-on roller bag.” In case you want to carry your car motor onboard your flight with you. Explain that to TSA.

At 650 hp apiece, Lucid says each motor offers “…a power density that is well beyond anything else offered on the EV market at 41 hp per liter.” “In total, Lucid’s drive units are 45 percent lighter and up to 59 percent more powerful than the closest competitor,” Lucid says. “For their power, the motors are two and a half times more volumetrically compact than the closest competitor. Also notable is the fact that the motors can spin up to 20,000 rpm, a significant performance advantage over the competition.” That compactness allows for one, two, or even three motor units to be placed in a Lucid Air. Though if you had three motors you couldn’t just multiply 650 X 3 and get 1,950 hp, the battery wouldn’t make that much hp, Rawlinson said. But you’d get a lot of twist to the driven wheels, for sure. The dual-motor Dream Air at launch will offer 1,080 hp.

Next on our technology tour was The Wunderbox or, “The multicore boost charger,” Rawlinson said. This was beginning to seem like Wily Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. “This is a two-way charger. And this is on every Lucid Air… it’s compatible with fast-charging through the Electrify America network. And as we recently stated, we can actually charge up to 300 miles in 20 minutes.” Offering two-way charging means you can route power from the car’s battery to your home, or your cabin, or to another electric car. (Two-way charging should be on all electric cars if for no other purpose than to prevent rolling blackouts at peak electric demand like we just had here in SoCal a couple days ago. That it’s not on every EV made now is a travesty. In my opinion.)

Outside is a design that is “…not quite a fastback,” according to design director Derek Jenkins. “It’s elegant and sporty.” The packaging “…contributes to the subtly different and modern proportions for the Lucid Air, without relying on any traditional automotive design cues, instead delivering a beautiful car that looks entirely distinctive on the road,” said Lucid. It’s a different look from Tesla or Taycan.

Inside, Lucid says the Air offers the space of a 7-Series. I sat in one front and back and felt comfortable in either seating position. In back the rear seats will be benches instead of separate rear seating positions divided by an armrest console, though that configuration comes later.

In front of the driver is a 34-inch curved glass 5K display appearing to float separately from the dash. Another screen in the center position offers access to controls for both driver and passenger. Redundant controls adorn the steering wheel.

The Dream Edition will have a large glass roof with fixed opacity. Future roofs get electrochromic controls to adjust shade. There’s also a full metal roof coming. Both the frunk and the trunk are dual-tiered for packing versatility. The frunk has “…as much capacity as Tesla, Taycan and I-PACE combined,” said Jenkins.

The Lucid Air will also incorporate no less than 32 sensors including cameras, radar and ultrasonics, plus what Lucid says is the world’s first standard high-resolution LIDAR in an EV. The sensors will work with the Driver Monitoring System and geo-fenced HD mapping “…to provide the safest possible approach to Level 2 and Level 3 driver assistance technologies.” We’ll try that out later when we get a chance to drive the car.

Dealerships are being opened as we speak, but not many. See to find one closest to you. The one in Beverly Hills has a seating buck customers sit in wearing AR headsets to try out different interior choices. I tried it, it works.

As electric cars become more and more popular, particularly in the luxury car segment, it looks like Lucid is launching its entry at just the right time. If only the more affordable model was coming sooner… aw, I still couldn’t afford it.

Source: Autoweek – Green Car Reports

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