A high performance electric car has gone into production in the US with a certified range of 520 miles – the longest currently on the open market.
The Air Dream model by Tesla rival Lucid received good reviews from American media over the weekend, after it went into mass manufacture at its Arizona factory last week.
The range rating by the US government is significant as, although the car is a high-end model, its ex-Tesla executive creator told CNN the development of such a long-range could have a trickle down impact on the general market, where some sceptics are known to be reluctant to acquire a technology that is perceived to have limited range.
Interest in electric vehicles is reported to have surged in the UK in the last week or so as a result of the fuel crisis, which has seen long queues for petrol outside service stations.
The Air Dream Edition, which costs just short of $170,000 (£124,000) in the US, travels about 28% – or 115 miles – further on a full charge than Tesla’s Model S, which Lucid Group’s British-born CEO Peter Rawlinson helped develop. It also has more than 1,000 horsepower, which means it can do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds.
A cheaper model, the $131,000 (£101,000) Grand Touring version, has a 516-mile range. Two even cheaper versions have shorter ranges.
It’s possible to pre-order a Lucid Air in the UK, but it is not known when deliveries will start.
Tesla has already announced two other vehicles that have a range that is similar to, or exceeds that of the Lucid Air Dream, but neither are yet being manufactured.
The Air Dream also charges more quickly than Teslas, according to Lucid, with enough charge after 20 minutes to drive 300 miles.
In the US, the cars will start to be delivered from late October, posing a major challenge to Tesla, the market leader in luxury electric vehicles, whose sales of premium models have stagnated.
Lucid, which makes its Air cars at its Arizona factory, said it aims to ramp up its plant’s capacity to 90,000 vehicles a year in the next two years.
The higher range offered by the Air Dream Edition and Grand Touring helped push it to a 23% hike in Lucid’s share price last month.
Mr Rawlinson, at the launch event of the production model last week, said: “We’ve ridden customers of the fear of range anxiety. The next big obstacle is cost effectiveness of electric cars. We’ve got to get the cost down.”
The company, founded in 2007, was helped with funding from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in 2018 before it went public via a shell company in July.
Experts say the success or otherwise of Lucid may be, like Tesla, its ability to keep up with demand.
Sam Abuelsamid, a principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights, said: “The big challenge for Lucid will be execution… They have a very good car. It’s very attractive.”
“In the premium market, customers are looking for the latest and greatest.”
In addition, the electric vehicle market is due to be joined by another company shortly, Rivian, which is backed by Amazon and is now preparing for a public stock listing.