Only a handful of people have ridden in one outside the company, but development of the Lucid Air luxury electric sedan seems to be proceeding apace.

The company said yesterday at the New York auto show that a development prototype had reached an electronically limited top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph) in testing last month.

Lucid Motors, formerly known as Atieva, conducted the test on the high-speed banked oval track at Ohio’s Transportation Research Center.

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Speeds over 200 mph are customarily reached only by supercars: the highest-performance version of the Tesla Model S is limited to 155 mph.

Because the energy required to overcome wind resistance rises exponentially with speed, it chews through battery capacity at a very high rate in an all-electric vehicle.

The Lucid Air's high-end lithium-ion battery pack is expected to have a capacity of 130 kilowatt-hours, potentially giving it a range of about 400 miles in standard testing.

Lucid Air prototype during high-speed test at Transportation Research Center, Ohio

Lucid Air prototype during high-speed test at Transportation Research Center, Ohio

(An entry-level model, with a range of roughly 240 miles, is expected to be priced at about $60,000 before incentives.)

But for luxury-sedan markets in places like Germany, the company intends to meet customers' expectations for high-speed cruising capability.

The speed test was part of a suite of on-road tests that let Lucid's engineers evaluate high-speed performance, including vehicle stability and the thermal management of the battery, motors, and power electronics.

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Lucid says that data it collects will be used to finesse their software simulations of thermal and aerodynamic performance, to make further design improvements that they will test at even higher speeds later this year.

The company suggests that the large, powerful electric motors required to take the Air to speeds over 200 mph also prove to be more efficient than smaller motors at lower speeds.

The most powerful Lucid Air will be rated at 1,000 horsepower along with the 400-mile range. The $60,000 base version with 240 miles of range will come with a 400-hp rating.

Prototype for Lucid electric car due in 2018

Prototype for Lucid electric car due in 2018

The company is now in the process of fund-raising, so it will likely be at least two years before any Lucid Air production cars are rolling off assembly lines.

The company said last November that it would build a factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.

While reports have indicated that Lucid will require the better part of a billion dollars to bring its factory to full production, executives at the New York auto show clarified that the first phase—to be completed in 2019—will take the company to volumes of 10,000 cars a year.

CHECK OUT: Lucid (nee Atieva) to build luxury electric cars in Arizona factory (Nov 2016)

That first stage will be more in the neighborhood of $250 million, with further and later phases of financing required to get to a final volume of 130,000 for approximately $700 million.

For purposes of comparison, Tesla built fewer than 90,000 electric cars in 2016, its ninth year of production, and says it expects to be building half a million cars a year by the end of next year.

Lucid's executive ranks include at least two Tesla veterans: CEO Peter Rawlinson, who led structural engineering development for the Model S, and marketing head Zak Edson.


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