This is part two of four in our series testing the Lucid Air Touring, the new ‘midrange’ luxury EV from Lucid Motors. Follow the coverage here.
I didn’t make a note of the exact range the Lucid Air promised when I set out to drive from Berkeley to Nevada City. All I know is that range was at least double the 140-mile distance between the two towns. I could, in theory, have made it all the way to Lake Tahoe on one charge.
Such a large range, however, compared to what the Fiat can handle, may have made me a little cocky. Highway driving in the Lucid Air really is its sweet spot: the car just annihilates distance. It’s like you pick a spot on the road ahead, you think “I’d like to go there,” and you practically teleport.
The suspension is so smooth, the car’s shape so aerodynamic, the acceleration so effortless and quiet, that you might not trust the 90 mph reading suddenly and improbably appearing in the middle of the dashboard screen. Whoops!
This is even true when accelerating up hills. The Lucid Air loves to accelerate up them even more than it loves to accelerate down them. It can’t get enough! “Call that a hill?” the EV seemed to ask, early and often, even on the steepest road in the Bay Area. “Barely felt it! Come on, give me a real challenge!”
Credit: Chris Taylor / Mashable
Trouble was, this ride involved a lot of hill. It’s a 2,300-ft elevation gain to Nevada City. Was my fearless hill driving the reason for the precipitous drop in estimated range, or did that day’s 35-degree temperature up there cut into the battery?
All I know is that when I got to Nevada City, I was shocked to discover the Lucid Air had a mere 10 miles of range left. And even more shocked to discover that Nevada City has zero public charging stations.
If I’d tried to make it all the way to Tahoe, the holy sainted Lucid Air would have been as dead as my old first-generation Prius, the battery of which would be wiped out by Tahoe’s brutal winters.
Lucid Air EV charging experience and cost
Credit: Chris Taylor / Mashable
Luckily, I was able to borrow a cup of electricity from friends who live in the former Gold Rush town. And a cup feels like the right measurement to use here. When I plugged the regular mains charger into their garage, the car told me it would take 177 hours to refill the whole battery that way. No worries, Lucid, just drink what you can.
I made do with the extra 40 miles this setup gave me overnight: more than enough to get me to a charging station in Grass Valley, conveniently next to a supermarket and a hiking trail where I could easily kill a couple of hours. Total fill-up cost: $38.40.
Forty miles was not enough, unfortunately, to get me to the nearest Electrify America charging station, in Auburn. Lucid has a sweet deal with EA where you get free fast charging for three years with your Air purchase. No card required, no tapping the app: plug it in and the Lucid Air is automatically recognized.
Later, on my way home from the Sierras, I would hit up the Auburn EA station (weirdly located in a Motel 6 parking lot), and the Starbucks across the street where I took meetings for an hour while the Lucid guzzled electrons at a “hyper-fast” 350 kilowatts. That’s 100 kW more than the top rate of Tesla Supercharger stations.
The upshot being that the EA station added roughly 20 miles of range every minute. And unlike Tesla in the U.S., it wasn’t being selfish with a proprietary connector. Even though Lucid owners are favored customers, the station was open to pretty much anyone with an EV.
Now I had enough range to put the Lucid Air Touring through its real wintertime paces — over California’s famously treacherous Donner Pass and on to Lake Tahoe.
Part 3, which covers range and charging, will publish Friday, Feb. 17. Follow the coverage here.
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