Lucid Air electric luxury sedan prototype [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s Chief Technology Officer, was Tesla’s chief engineer during those early days of the Model S.
“Franz von Holzhausen, the Model S designer, had been hired about six months before I was,” Rawlinson told me.
“By the time I arrived, the styling of the car had already been completed. My job was to fit the engineering bits and pieces inside that style.”
Peter Rawlinson, previously Tesla VP and chief engineer, now Lucid Motors chief technology officerEnlarge Photo
“It was up to me to make that shape viable," he recalled. "That’s a very different intellectual puzzle than starting from scratch.”
By contrast, Rawlinson and Lucid Design VP Derek Jenkins have worked together from the beginning to combine style and engineering in the most efficient way.
Rawlinson and Jenkins took the basic Model S architecture and stretched out the wheelbase, then remolded the slab floorpan battery to allow more room in the passenger space (particularly the rear footwell).
“We weren’t constrained by having to use the battery pack as a major structural member,” says Rawlinson.
Intense miniaturization efforts were aimed at the the front and rear drivetrains and suspensions to further maximize interior space.
Rawlinson even inverted the air suspension bellows, which allows those rear seats to recline 55 degrees.
“We’re teasing out the last millimeter of interior space,” he says.
Cavernous back seat
I can attest first-hand that they’ve succeeded. With the front seat adjusted to my 6-feet-2 height, I had a limolike six inches or so of rear-seat knee room in the Air.
In my Model S, my knees would have been brushing the rear seatback.
Even more astonishing, the vastly more spacious Air is about a half-inch shorter and narrower than the Model S.
The Lucid website brags that the Air is nearly a foot shorter than a long-wheelbase Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 series, yet has more interior space than either.