Design, battery chemistry
As for styling, “There’s no legacy, we just do what makes sense,” says Jenkins. “It’s my job to stretch the consumer to the most advanced styling he can manage.”
I’d say he’s nailed it. To my eye the Air is sleek, attractive, and just futuristic enough.
But Lucid also has the lofty goal of being the industry leader in electric technology.
The Air’s batteries will use a new chemistry that can sustain DC fast charging with less long-term battery degradation, according to Rawlinson.
“It’s a real decathlete of a cell,” he says..
Jenkins insists there’s still plenty of progress left to make in electric motors, in terms of size, weight and cost, if not efficiency.
The Tesla’s huge central touch screen is one of the car’s most raved-about features. Sure, it looks awesome, but I’ve found it to be an ergonomic mixed bag.
To push any virtual button on the screen, the driver must look directly at the screen and guide his finger to the precise spot visually. No feel or muscle memory.
This means my eyes are off the road for at least a full second—perhaps 2 seconds if the occasionally numb screen doesn’t respond to the first touch.
And to change screens requires another second or two with eyes down. It’s seriously distracting—and potentially dangerous, if you ask me.
Lucid uses a combination of screens and tactile switches and buttons—a far better approach, in my opinion.
“Our goal was maximum capability with minimal effort,” says James Felkins, Lucid’s senior user experience designer.
The Lucid has three screens: one behind the steering wheel, one in the center of the dashboard, and a big one just above the center console.
Climate control and sound system, however, are controlled by buttons above the large central screen.
Properly integrated, physical buttons and screens can be far more ergonomic than a screen alone.
It looks to me like Felkins and his crew have aced this one, at least based on a static run-through of some various functions. (A full long-term test drive will tell the tale, of course.)
A car too smart?
Elon Musk has warned of the potential dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Air forges into new AI territory that starts to verge on the creepy, if not yet villainous.
Using facial recognition, the Air knows who you are when you get in. It will know what time you typically go to work (or the gym), and knows where the office (or the gym) is.
If you get in the car at the typical time, the car will immediately lay out the route to your presumed destination.
The Air’s voice-activated personal assistant takes route changes in stride.
When Felkins told her to amend the office route to pick up a latte at a nearby coffee shop, the car asked brightly, “Shall I call the boss to tell him you’ll be a few minutes late for your meeting?”