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Locally-backed Lucid Motor’s Air to take on Tesla

Saudi funded California carmaker rivals EV giant


David Light

Published: Sat 27 Mar 2021, 2:02 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Mar 2021, 2:05 PM

Derek Jenkins, VP of Design at Lucid Motors, sought out inspiration for the luxury EV sedan from the state of California, where his team found limitless possibility in the location’s landscapes. The Air’s interior themes, all designed by manager of colours, materials & finish Sue Magnusson, are crafted with colours and materials that invoke a sense of place and time in the Golden State. From what we can see, the Lucid Air represents a new approach to sustainable luxury and we wanted to have a closer look.

When it comes to electric vehicles, arguably only one name rolls off the tongue... for now. Though backed by Middle East billions and located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Lucid Motors are highly touted to be the next big player on the scene and once they have taken America, you know they’ll be hot-footing it over to the region of their financial contributors, meaning you could see an Air on UAE roads very soon.

So what can we expect? Do elements including a glass canopy design reflecting an indoor-outdoor lifestyle take your fancy? We thought so. Let’s see what Derek and Sue have to say.

Given we’re in the UAE, what do you think the Air offers the international buyer?

Derek: We talk a lot about our California roots in terms of inspiration — the technology, the use of light, the aesthetic, the spirit of change and forward motion — but I think those things have universal appeal. I think the Air is very much a car that can live anywhere, and we have had international consumers in mind from the start.

What were your most influential touch points when designing your respective areas of the car? How do you go about creating a sense of familiarity while remaining innovative?

Sue: As a new company, we had no legacy or design language to lean into, but that is a real opportunity for designers. The colour, materials and finishes designers were tasked with helping to develop a signature palette. So we thought, what will it be about? How do we begin? We looked hard at where we were — Silicon Valley, California — and we looked at what makes this state so unique: the landscapes, which are incredibly diverse; the architecture, which embraces the mild climate and the way we give equal weight to indoor and outdoor spaces; the art and design community; technology — we’re really in the centre of that, nurturing and growing tech at all levels; icons, which includes movie stars and the Hollywood industry, but also celebrity culture that encompasses diverse influences from every direction. Our lifestyle is so unique because of all these things, but above all, we are dreamers. We attract pioneers and risk-takers — this type of creator has permeated our culture.

Derek: We call it our California DNA — it’s optimistic, it’s warm and inviting. That’s a big part of who we are, and it will be reflected in future vehicles as well. In addition to that, we drew a lot of inspiration from aircraft, particularly private planes, with their smooth lines and equal emphasis on form and function. In terms of something familiar that people will recognise, I think the honesty and simplicity of the design will immediately draw them in. Elegance is timeless.

How do you think the Air stands up to your closest competitor/ rival?

Derek: 98% of luxury cars have internal combustion engines, so I think Lucid is filling a very specific space in luxury, which has been unoccupied. Our customers are looking for exactly what we offer: elegance, efficiency, storage, range, speed and zero emissions. That’s what we mean by luxury without compromise.

Do you believe cars up until now have not utilised light in the correct manner?

Sue: You can see better in our car! There’s so much natural light as a result of the glass canopy, which gave us a real opportunity to create materials and colours that would enhance the interior experience. The interior themes are all about the light at particular times of day from very specific locations. I don’t know why so few cars are designed this way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see others begin to offer the same feature.

Was there a temptation, given it’s an EV, to go ultra-futuristic with the look of the car? In what ways did you indulge and where were you conservative?

Derek: We wanted to push the envelope of a traditional luxury sedan and design the car around our core DNA, with a simple and elegantly sleek design like an aircraft. We balanced this with offering our target audience something relatable, clearly future-focused but still elegant and sophisticated. There are a lot of cutting-edge elements, it’s absolutely future forward and ready for what’s ahead, but it still has warmth. The attention to detail, the focus on comfort, the craftsmanship — all that honours what’s come before. I don’t think there will be anything else like it on the road, and I certainly hope it inspires others.

When sat either in the car or looking at it, in a word, how do you feel?

Sue: Wonder

Derek: Pure

Now explain why you chose that word.

Sue: There’s always something new to discover in the car. In particular I think about the details throughout and how the colors, materials and finishes work together in ways that never fail to delight.

Derek: Everything in the car follows the principles of form and function. Elegant design solutions paired with advanced technology. The best design, for me, is about subtraction — it’s a process of removing everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. You end up with something sleek, minimal, and pure.

What do you currently drive? Did they influence any part of the Air in any way?

Sue: It depends on the activity, because I have three vehicles. The first is a Prius Hybrid, which I bought because of the long commute I make each day between my home and office, but I find it very unromantic — it’s practical but holds zero emotional feeling for me to drive. Second is a Dodge 2500 4x4 pick-up truck, because I live on a ranch with horses so I use this truck for ranch activities and for pulling my large horse trailer. I feel empowered when I drive it — it’s powerful and gives me confidence when I am trailering my horses. I bought it new over 20 years ago and I love it. Lastly, I have a Porsche 911s. I have loved Porsches since I was 10 years old and our neighbour drove one into his driveway. I thought it was the coolest car I’d ever seen. It’s the car that gives me the greatest joy to drive, it’s fast, beautiful, has a great sound, and I feel so happy to drive it. The interesting thing is that Air will have more power than my Porsche and it’s fully electric with miles and miles of range, so out goes the Prius. It’s also beautiful and is a blast to drive. It really checks all the boxes.

Derek: My 1997 Porsche 911 was a great example of what I mean by pure, just the epitome of design purity, and it definitely had a related form language to the Air. One of the favourite cars I ever had was my

Lamborghini Espada. A low, long, sleek luxury coupe that had a really futuristic look to it. It was also fast. So there are a few design parallels there.

The Lucid Air is a luxury, all-electric sedan with an estimated EPA range of up to 832km as well as up to 1,080 horsepower available from its dual-motor architecture. It posses an energy dense 113kWh extended-range battery pack. In the US the Air starts from $69,900.

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