Even with a flood of battery-electric vehicles entering the market, the 2-year-old Lucid Air’s propulsion system still stands out.
The Air’s front and rear permanent magnet AC synchronous motors make our Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems winners’ list for the second year in a row due to their colossal power and torque and cutting-edge technology.
Engineering innovation such as compact differentials within rotors and a single, continuous-wave copper winding in stators remain praiseworthy.
The woven copper piece, taking the place of more common hairpin-style wires and created in a fully automated process at Lucid’s Casa Grande, AZ, assembly plant, reduces laser welds, helping improve efficiency and limit resistance.
Other innovations include eight stacked rectangular conductors (instead of more common rounded wires) per slot, also minimizing electrical resistance by creating maximum copper surface area in the slots; microchannels in stator laminations through which transmission fluid is fed extract heat nearest the copper and replace conventional water-cooling of the stator at its surface.
The Lucid motor is hugely scalable, with horsepower in two-motor Airs ranging from 430 to 1,050. The Air’s Touring grade we drove churns out a hefty 620 hp and a blistering 885 lb.-ft. (1,200 Nm) of torque, making for a swift 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 3.4 seconds.
Speaking of swift, Swift mode in the Air still is a brain-scrambler. And in Sprint mode, the brain almost can’t comprehend the insane pull when the accelerator is floored.
That said, the Air is a smooth operator in Smooth mode, with gentle inputs resulting in linear, stealthy acceleration.
Also helping the Air again take home a trophy is its extreme driving range. On a fully charged pack it remains the best in the mass-market BEV sector, from a maximum of 516 miles (830 km) in the top-end Air Grand Touring, to 425 miles (684 km) in the Touring grade we test, to only 410 miles (660 km) in the single-motor Air Pure trim level. And the vehicle’s price has declined across the board as of late, with the new entry-level, rear-wheel-drive Pure available for less than $80,000.
Says Judge Drew Winter of our Touring tester: “With industry-benchmark performance stats, Lucid’s propulsion system – now in a vehicle starting in the upper five digits instead of the low six – takes its rightful spot on this year’s 10 Best list.”
The 2023 winners will be honored during the Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems award ceremony Oct. 18 on day two of AutoTech: Electrification at the Fort Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit. Learn more about the event and book your ticket by visiting https://bit.ly/3REayqc. All credentialed media are welcome and qualify for free admittance to both the awards ceremony and AutoTech: Electrification Oct. 17-18.