There is a critical difference between theory and reality. Computer simulations are fine development tools, but there is no substitute for taking a product out in the real world to see what it can do. Lucid recently installed a roll cage in one of its Lucid Air sedans, took it to the 7.5 mile long Transportation Research Center oval track in Michigan, and stomped on the go pedal — hard. When the music stopped, the Lucid Air had recorded a top speed of 217 mph and get this — the car was electronically limited to keep it from going faster. Wow!
On its website, Lucid says the test “was successful in demonstrating the capabilities of the car and in finding areas for improvement that could not be properly evaluated in static bench tests. Real world tests are an important part of the engineering process, allowing the team to correlate computer simulation models with real-world performance. The collected data will now be used to finesse thermal and aero computer simulations and to make further performance improvements that will be tested later this year at higher speeds.”
Lucid says such high speeds are expected from the car’s competitors, which is probably a nod toward certain German companies who build luxury sedans that routinely dominate the Autobahn. “The Lucid Air will compete with the best vehicles in the biggest markets around the world. In at least one of these markets, there is an expectation of high-speed cruising that we intend to satisfy.”
Lucid also says being capable of speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour is not contrary to its green values. “High-speed capability does not compromise our mission to develop a highly efficient vehicle. On the contrary, the focus on maximizing range provides the high power and aerodynamic efficiency that enables higher speeds.” The Lucid Air is expected to achieve an EPA rating of 100 MPGe (similar to the Tesla Model S 100D). Supercars with equivalent top speed performance fare much worse in terms of efficiency. The Ferrari LaFerrari, for instance, is rated at a measly 14 MPGe.
Might there be a marketing strategy at work here? Elon Musk and Tesla have gotten millions of dollars worth of free publicity by making cars that are super quick to 60 mph. But there are cars that are quick and then there are cars that are fast. No Tesla ever made can approach 200 miles per hour. Some people might be attracted to an electric car that is not only quick but also awesomely fast.
They say that successful selling involves the transfer of emotion. Don’t know about you, but that overhead shot of the Lucid Air at speed is pretty damned exciting and makes me think Lucid may actually have a chance at being successful. If so, expect Elon Musk and Tesla to jump head first into the electric car top speed sweepstakes before long.