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Lucid Air electric car promises executive interior, 1,000 horsepower

Lucid Motors showed off its first production car, the Air. It uses a powerful electric drivetrain, includes self-driving capability and should hit the roads in 2018.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
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California electric car start-up Lucid Motors, which broke out of stealth mode in October, showed off its first production-intent car today, which it calls the Air. The company asserts the new car will offer a luxury interior and sport-oriented driving, with production to begin in 2018.

The Air hits the luxury sedan segment. Lucid cites four areas of focus with the car: electrification, autonomous driving, connectivity and ride sharing. The car has been designed with all of these capabilities in mind.

Lucid is capitalizing on a unique time in the automotive industry, with shifts in technology that have already allowed another electric vehicle start-up to emerge (you might know it, it's called Tesla). As major automakers embrace electrification in their drivetrains, they still have to deal with legacy platforms designed for combustion engines. Likewise, while digital technology makes its way into dashboard for navigation and communications, it lags behind the devices most people carry in their pockets.

Lucid takes a fresh-start approach, and has designed the Air to take advantage of the unique packaging of a fully electric drivetrain. Electric motors, much smaller than a combustion engine, sit at each axle, making a combined 1,000 horsepower and give the Air all-wheel drive. A 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack rests in the floor, offering enough electricity for well over 300 miles of range, according to Lucid. With motors and battery, Lucid expects the Air to hit 60 mph from a stop in about 2.5 seconds.

For self-driving, the Air includes six radar modules, eight cameras and four LIDAR sensors, all letting it detect obstacles and other traffic. A dashboard display shows drivers what the car detects, inspiring confidence in its self-driving ability. At launch, full self-driving capability will be dependent on the legal landscape, but it might have specific features, such as adaptive cruise control and the ability to change lanes on its own.

Because of the electric drivetrain packaging, Lucid was able to design the car with the exterior size of a typical mid-size sedan, while making the cabin roomy, on the scale of a large sedan. As such, there is plenty of legroom for rear passengers. Adding to rear-seat comfort, Lucid will offer optional individual seats inspired by executive jet interiors, with a large degree of recline.

Lucid emphasizes that the Air is not a concept. The company has already done engineering on the body for production, and has developed all other aspects of the car, from drivetrain to interior design, in parallel. Last month, Lucid announced it had made a deal with Arizona to build its first manufacturing plant just south of Phoenix.

Pricing has not been announced at this time, but expect the Air to be on par with other luxury sedans.