LOS ANGELES — Lucid Motors will begin selling its first CUV by the end of next year, and not surprisingly the range and performance closely follows the standard set by the superb Lucid Air sedan that launched the company.
The 3-row crossover, somewhat reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz R-Class with a longer and somewhat lower profile than other CUVs, will have up to 440 miles (708 km) of range and a starting price below $80,000.
Considering the premium experience of the Lucid Air sedan, expanded now to include the Gravity, that price tag represents a staggering value compared with the prices of rival battery-electric vehicles. But it’s worth remembering that Lucid Motors, which is publicly traded, is also backed by the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Saudi Arabia, which seems prepared to absorb per-vehicle losses for a while to get the Lucid brand established with global credibility.
The interior of Gravity is flexible and innovative. Its third-row seats fold away into the floor of the CUV, while its second row slides to adjust legroom and includes fold-down tables with tablet holders.
The second row also folds away when you want all the space behind the front seats for storage; Lucid notes that is long enough to fit a 7-ft., (2.1-m) surfboard. The frunk is 8.1 cu.-ft. (220 L) and holds an integrated folding cushion to form a bench. Total storage space in the Gravity is 112 cu.-ft. (3,171 L). The Gravity will seat up to seven passengers and carry their stuff, though that would be a tight squeeze.
Gravity’s propulsion system is very close to that which powers the Air sedan, and that’s good. Not only did the Air make the 2023 Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems list, but was named the 2023 World Luxury Car of The Year and 2022 and 2023 U.S. News & World Reports Best Luxury Electric Car.
Gravity’s range comes by way of a smaller, lighter battery pack than what other automakers are using, a system where more energy is packed into each cell. This is a technology developed by Lucid with the help of suppliers. It’s an evolution of the automaker’s 900V-plus architecture and mimics its fast-charging rates. Drivers can add up to 200 miles (322 km) of range in about 15 minutes, minimizing downtime during long-distance trips.
Lucid says Gravity will accelerate 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.5 seconds, has a payload of 1,500 lbs. (680 kg) and a towing capacity of 6,000 lbs. (2,721 kg).
Lucid did not re-use the Air’s architecture, spinning up a new platform to achieve better proportions for a larger vehicle. A designated CUV platform would seem to indicate more CUV/SUV body styles to come.
“Gravity will take our customers farther with less batteries and therefore using less precious energy,” says Lucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson. “"Its smaller, lighter and higher technology battery pack means fewer precious metals and minerals, less energy to charge, less electricity consumed, less pressure upon the grid and a lighter weight and more dynamic vehicle. When we say we’re here to advance the technology, this is what we mean – this is truly sustainability in action.”
The pre-production model unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show reveals Lucid’s attention to detail. There is a superior fit and finish in the cockpit that’s like that of the Air models being delivered to customers – as good as any car sold in the world today.
As with Lucid Air, Gravity’s interior is not only pristine, but it also feels as if you are driving the future. Lucid calls its user interface “Clearview Cockpit,” and it features a 34-in. (86-cm) curved and uninterrupted organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) display floating above the steering wheel.
Lucid's Pilot Panel, a highlight of the Air, is deployed in the Gravity with a quick-access touch bar. This user-interface is three separate panels, broken down by categories and grouped by similar controls. Gravity will introduce Lucid's next-generation software with over-the-air updates.
Lucid is out to transcend the typical luxury-car experience with “wellness” features. Lucid Sanctuary, for example, is a suite of experiences meant to create “tranquility” for drivers on the go. With Lucid Spaces, for example, a single tap transforms the cabin into a “serene” environment, plunging drivers into an atmosphere of places such as Lake Tahoe or Joshua Tree National Park.
Lucid also has partnered with experts at Meditopia, a subscription-based website for mental health support and wellness, to offer a guided meditation experience that provides a personal space for mindfulness without exiting the vehicle. With all the information that is accessible on Lucid’s screen, there is a setting to display only vital driver information.
Despite its super-clean lines and tidy interior, the company says things can get a little muddy on the weekends. Gravity comes with an optional air-suspension feature that automatically or manually adapts to different road conditions.
Gravity should help both Lucid’s revenues and operating earnings when it goes on sale next year because of the demand for CUVs and SUVs in the BEV segment. Lucid recently took a hit on its share price after it missed the mark on its third-quarter financial results and forecasted it will sell fewer vehicles this year than it previously told investors.
Lucid says it now expects to produce 8,000 to 8,500 vehicles (from prior guidance of more than 10,000 units) in order to “prudently align with deliveries.” In October, the company reported deliveries of 1,457 vehicles and production of 1,550 vehicles, with production at around 6,000 through September. Lucid initially forecasted production of 12,000 vehicles for 2023.
Lucid’s third-quarter revenues were $137.8 million, versus $177 million expected by Wall Street. However, the automaker reported an adjusted loss per share of $0.28, and adjusted EBITDA loss of $624.1 million, which was better than consensus estimates.