Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson's focus on efficiency permeates the automotive startup. The boss doubles as the company's CTO. That close connection to vehicles coming out of the Newark, California HQ is likely closer than that of the average automotive CEO.
Rawlinson’s obsession with efficiency has paid off with the unveiling of the company's second vehicle, the all-electric Gravity SUV. With a targeted range of more than 440 miles (708 km) from a three-row SUV, the EV startup is putting other automakers on notice.
During a presentation at Lucid’s HQ ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, Derek Jenkins, senior vice president of design and brand, told SAE Media, "there's still an opportunity to optimize what an SUV is and can do."
A luxury power
The automaker is eking nearly 450 miles (724 km) out of a battery pack with a capacity that, according to a Lucid spokesperson, is likely slightly higher than the 118 kWh found in the higher-trim levels of the company’s Air sedan. Lucid has not shared an official capacity number, but based on that rough estimate, the company is targeting an efficiency rate of roughly 3.7 miles (5.9 km) per kWh. For comparison, the Rivian R1S electric SUV rolling with a 149 kWh pack has 400 miles (644 km) of range, which works out to 2.68 miles (4.3 km) per kWh.
To help it achieve those range numbers from a pack smaller than those seen in three-row models from GM and Rivian, the automaker aimed for a drag coefficient of less than 0.24. It helps that the design essentially is a Lucid Air stretched up and out, and the Air is already a slippery vehicle.
Like the Air, the Gravity is built on a 900-volt electrical architecture that Lucid said supports DC fast-charging that should add approximately 200 miles (322 km) of range in about 15 minutes at a suitable charging station. Lucid didn’t share the exact charge rate, but based on data from the Lucid Air, that should be about 250 kW.
Performance-wise, Lucid said the Gravity will do 0-to-60 mph (0-to-97 km/h) in 3.5 seconds from its dual-motor setup and has a payload capacity of 1,500 lb (680 kg) and can tow up to 6,000 lb (2722 kg).
Revamped interior tech
Sitting behind the wheel is where drivers will see huge differences between the Air and Gravity. Gone is the portrait-mode touchscreen, replaced with a single 34-inch (864-mm) OLED display that stretches from the driver's A-pillar to the center screen, which now has a landscape orientation. The lower screen is still available and Lucid has finally implemented multi-tasking between the screens. On the Air, even with both screens, one could not have the navigation and media player on the screens at the same time. That capability is available in the Gravity thanks in part to a new chipset that Lucid would not comment on.
Lucid has moved the display above the steering wheel to be higher in the driver’s sightline; the automaker wanted to offer unobstructed views of the dash cluster and the rest of the display. To achieve this, the steering wheel underwent a design change. The top and bottom of the wheel have been squared off in a happy medium between a traditional steering wheel and a yoke.
Jenkins told SAE Media that engineers went through 30 iterations of the steering wheel before they felt they got it right. Sitting in the driver's seat, the steering wheel and its position felt correct without the compromises that come with outfitting a cabin with a yoke. A better understanding of its use in the real world will come when media is first able to drive the Gravity.
On the steering wheel are two touch controllers that have taken a cue from an Apple TV remote. Thumb movements select items on the infotainment screen and adjust display elements in the dash cluster.
Lucid is also using that huge OLED screen to offer up ‘relaxation modes’ for use while sitting and waiting for a charge. For those less about yoga and meditation and more about singing and games, a karaoke feature will be available. "We're specifically looking at gaming opportunities that are unique to this display layout," Jenkins said.
Bring the Family
The three-row Gravity seats seven with a third row that will accommodate someone six-feet tall – but not for long trips. The second row can slide to accommodate larger third-row passengers, but comfort back there is more related to headroom. The second row is equipped with convenience tables that fold down from the front seats, similar to those found on an airplane.
There is room for medium-sized suitcases behind the third row and there’s additional storage under the removable floor. The rear seats fold down into that underfloor area. Folding the second row results in a flat cargo area from the trunk to the front seats. According to Lucid, that expanse is 7.5 feet (2.3m) long and offers up to 112 cu ft (3.2 cu m) of cargo space, more than enough for bikes, surfboards, skis and most trips to the local lumber yard.
"It's just more usable, more utilitarian with fewer compromises," Eric Bach, Lucid's senior vice president of product and chief engineer, told SAE Media while showing off the vehicle's storage capabilities.
Elsewhere, the center console's sliding storage area components replace the behind-the-screen storage area of the Lucid Air. Yes, it was cool, but this seems to be used more often without the need to have an entire screen recess into the dash. The Gravity’s oddest use of space, though, is found up front. Lucid showed SAE Media the SUV’s large frunk with an optional seating package. A soft seat cover is draped over the frunk's interior to allow for, well, if not tailgating, perhaps frontgating? Trying the seat found it comfortable; the raised hood is high enough that even those more than six feet tall don't have to concern themselves with hitting their heads.
As for actual cargo area under the hood of the Gravity, Lucid told SAE Media that it’s close to the 10 cu ft (0.3 cu m) of space available in the Air sedan. An official number wasn't yet available.
All of this is in a package that seats up to seven, has all-wheel drive and – in a first for Lucid – can be equipped with rear-wheel steering. Lucid didn't share how many degrees the rear wheels will pivot. Like other vehicles equipped with the feature, it should increase the Gravity's nimbleness in tight areas and give the impression that the vehicle is smaller than it is.
The Lucid said the Gravity will begin production in late 2024 with a starting price less than $80,000.Continue reading »