Lucid Air electric luxury sedan prototype [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
The Lucid’s huge sumptuous rear passenger area is all well and good. But will it really matter to many potential buyers?
For me personally, I couldn't care less. There’s far more likely to be a mountain bike and a dog in the back of my car than a person. A hatchback and fold-down rear seats are way more important to me than extra inches of knee room and a plush recliner.
On the rare occasion when I do carry rear-seat passengers, the merely adequate Model S-level space back there is plenty good enough for them—okay, call me heartless—on my typical short trips.
But Lucid is thinking beyond traditional American car-buyers. The massive back seat is partly aimed at the Chinese market and its “chauffeur culture,” where buyers of $100,000 cars are accustomed to being driven around. (Another China-centric feature: the rear doors open a full 90 degrees.)
Then there’s the Uber factor. A few years from now, Lucid believes, even high-end luxury-car owners will be Ubering their cars, autonomously or not. And a big, comfortable rear seat will be a selling point for Uber passengers.
Lucid Air prototype during high-speed test at Transportation Research Center, OhioEnlarge Photo
The Lucid’s 235-mph top speed is another one of those cool-but-I-don’t-care features. My Tesla’s top speed is supposedly 140 mph, yet I’ve never had it over 90, and see no reason to ever drive any car of mine faster than that.
Ludicrous-level acceleration is fun because it can be sampled (however briefly) on a whim, virtually any time, on virtually any road.
Ludicrous-level top speed? Just a theoretical number, something I would never experience, nor want to.
But again, Lucid has its eye on a foreign market. In Germany, land of the unlimited-speed Autobahns, drivers of $100,000 cars expect them to cruise effortlessly all day at 150 mph. A Tesla can’t do that, and it’s one reason Tesla sales in Germany have been mediocre.
One thing I do care about—a lot—is ease of driver entry and exit. And in this regard the Model S is mediocre at best.
The culprit is the B-pillar, which separates the front and back doors. It’s about three or four inches too far forward, requiring tall guys like me to awkwardly scrunch around it to get into our pushed-back driver seats.
With its more efficient design, the Air has a wider driver’s door, with the B-pillar a bit farther back. Score one for Lucid.
The Model S has been criticized for a rather spare interior that some consider unworthy of a $100,000 car.
Lucid has jumped on this perceived Tesla flaw, and aims to make the Air feel like the inside of a private jet. It has clearly succeeded in this regard.
But once again, I don’t care that much. Like many Tesla owners, I had never before spent more than $35,000 on a new car. I don’t have the luxury mindset. I bought the Tesla for its electric acceleration, efficiency, style, and cutting-edge brand identity.
Overstuffed seats and cooled upholders? Meh. The clean, comparatively Spartan interior of the Model S is fine with me.