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Electric vehicle start-up Lucid unveils Air sedan to take on Tesla

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The Lucid Air sedan, which is expected to go into production next year at a plant being constructed in Arizona.

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Electric vehicle start-up Lucid is touting its all-electric Air sedan as a more efficient, faster and spacious vehicle than the Tesla Model S, a car the company’s CEO Peter Rawlinson helped develop.

“What we’ve got is a breakthrough in electric cars,”  he told media ahead of the Air’s unveiling on Wednesday. “That’s not just due to batteries, it’s due to a whole host of big picture thinking that’s added up.”

Rawlinson, who was the Model S chief engineer and vice president of engineering at Tesla from 2009 to 2012, claims the high-end version of the Air is 17% more energy efficient than Tesla models, allowing for more range with fewer cells. 

The Air heavily resembles the prototype models and a concept of the car, which Lucid previously unveiled in 2016. The company made small changes to the exterior since, including larger side mirrors to meet regulations, as well as curved screens in the interior.

Exterior of the Lucid Air sedan, which debuted Sept. 9, 2020 as the company’s first production vehicle.

Lucid

The car is estimated to achieve an EPA-rated range of 517 miles on a single charge, according to third party testing. That easily tops Tesla’s industry-leading 402 miles with a version of the Model S. It also can achieve a quarter mile in 9.9 seconds, according to Rawlinson. Tesla’s fastest vehicle reportedly takes 10.4 seconds.

“This has never been done before,” Rawlinson said. “An electric car which has got 500-mile range and is the fastest thing on the planet.”

The company says the car, thanks to a 900-volt architecture, can charge 300 miles in 20 minutes. Its highest charging rate is 2 miles per minute, according to Lucid. 

Starting pricing for the Air will range from about $80,000 for a base model to $169,000 for a limited-volume “Dream Edition.”

The company plans to sell a Grand Touring version of the Air with a 517-mile range for $139,000, and a Touring version of the sedan with a 406-mile range for $95,000.

The performance and range of the vehicle varies by price. Top-end models offer up to 1,080 horsepower. Lucid plans to make the Air in black, white and gold. 

The higher priced vehicles are expected to go on sale in the second quarter of next year, followed by lower priced models in the fourth quarter and into 2022.

Lucid says a big differentiator for any version of the Air is its interior. The Air offers the space of a large sedan in a midsize car, according to Derek Jenkins, vice president of design at Lucid. “This is where the marvel of Lucid packaging and our space content is quite incredible,” he said.

Interior of the Lucid Air sedan.

Lucid

The vehicle features a “floating” driver information screen behind the steering wheel as well as an angled control touchscreen in the lower center of the dash. 

The company says the Lucid Air “frunk” can fit as much cargo as four of any competitor’s.

Rawlinson expects the Air to be the catalyst for a lineup of future all-electric vehicles, including an SUV starting production in early 2023 and more affordable vehicles down the line. On Wednesday night, the company shared images of its SUV, dubbed the “Gravity,” still in development. It did not discuss specifications for the SUV, however.

Lucid Motors SUV

Lucid Motors

Executives also revealed that Lucid is developing an “ESS” product line of stationary energy storage systems for home, business and grid-scale use. The strategy is reminiscent of Tesla’s, minus the SolarCity acquisition and entry into photovoltaics. 

But unlike Tesla, Lucid is not building or managing its own electric vehicle charging infrastructure at this time. Instead, the company has  partnered with Electrify America. Early customers who buy the Lucid Air will get 3 years of free charging at Electrify America stations, the company said.

The Air is expected to begin production early next year at its plant, which is still under construction in Casa Grande, Arizona, southeast of Phoenix. Production was scheduled to begin late this year but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic

The $700 million facility, including $300 million for the first phase of production, is expected to have an initial vehicle production capacity of 34,000 units, which Rawlinson believes will grow to a maximum capacity of 400,000 units toward the end of the decade.

Lucid is among several electric vehicle start-ups and “traditional” automakers attempting to compete with Tesla.

Lucid was founded in 2007 as Atieva, a name it now uses for its engineering and tech arm that supplies batteries to electric racing circuit Formula E. The company first focused on electric battery technology before changing its name and shifting to an electric-vehicle manufacturer in 2016, three years after Rawlinson joined the company to lead its technology development.

The Lucid Air sedan is the company’s first production vehicle.

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Transport Ministry begins exercise to formalise registration of vintage motor vehicles in India

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New Delhi: The transport ministry has issued a notification to formalise the registration process for vintage vehicles in the country, in a bid to preserve the heritage of old motor vehicles in India.

The ministry has proposed a fee of Rs 20,000 for a new registration and Rs 5,000 as fee for subsequent re-registration.

All applications for registering such vehicles will be applied on the “PARIVAHAN” portal of the ministry of road transport and highways. This registration shall be valid for 10 years.

The Ministry has published GSR 734 (E) on Wednesday seeking comments and suggestions in regards to amending Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989, relating to Vintage Motor Vehicles.

“There are no existing rules for regulating the registration process of vehicles of heritage value. Through this notification the Ministry intends to formalize the registration process of the Vintage Motor Vehicles,” said a government official.

The government has defined Vintage vehicles as those two-wheelers and four-wheelers (non-commercial/personal use) which are more than 50 years old from the date of their first registration (including imported vehicle).

The definition, however, restricts any substantial overhaul of the vehicle which includes modification in chassis or body shell, and or engine.

All States registering authority will appoint a nodal officer who will process all applications for registration of vintage motor vehicles, as per the proposed rules.

Further, States will have to form a committee which will inspect a vehicle and declare whether the vehicle is fit to be registered as vintage.

The ministry has proposed to restrict the use of vintage vehicles on Indian roads.

“A Vintage Motor vehicle is allowed to run on Indian roads only for display, technical research or taking part in a vintage car rally, refueling and maintenance, exhibitions, vintage rallies, to and fro to such exhibition or car rally,” the official said, sharing details of the proposal.


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India can beat China in low-cost manufacturing if industry, govt work together: RC Bhargava

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NEW DELHI: India has the potential to surpass even China in low-cost manufacturing if the government and industry work in a cohesive manner, Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Chairman RC Bhargava said on Thursday. Bhargava also said the government should focus on increasing the competitiveness of the Indian industry.

“India has the capability to become a lower cost country than China if the industry and the government work together,” Bhargava said.

He was sharing his views on making Indian manufacturing globally competitive at an online event organised by the All India Management Association (AIMA).

Bhargava said the only objective of government policies should be to increase the competitiveness of Indian industry so that it can make things at the lowest cost along with the best quality in the world.

“The more the industry can sell, the more jobs will be created in the economy,” he noted.

Bhargava pointed out that creating jobs across sectors was important for the overall growth of the economy.

He, however, criticised states which have reserved jobs in manufacturing for locals.

“It is an anti-competitive step,” Bhargava said.

He also said MSMEs have to be as globally competitive as the large companies because the entire supply chain determines the overall competitiveness.

Bhargava also noted that the industry cannot be competitive unless the promoters and managers treated workers as partners.

He pointed out that MSI owed its success to explaining to its workers that they will prosper if the company grew and backing that with policies and actions that delivered income and career growth to employees.


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Indian carmakers beat their foreign counterparts in vehicle crash safety

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MUMBAI: Domestic automakers have led the way when it comes to making safer cars for Indian roads. Seven out of the 10 safest affordable cars plying on Indian roads are made by Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra, as assessed by Global New Car Assessment Programme (G-NCAP), an initiative by a UK-based charity that lobbies for safer cars around the world.

In fact, Indian automakers were the only ones to score 5 stars on a scale of 5 for adult occupant safety in the event of a high-speed collision.

“Global NCAP is neutral in terms of origin of different car companies. But it is pleasing to see Tata and Mahindra do so well in our ‘Safer Cars For India’ ratings,” said David Ward, president of Global NCAP.

“India’s made huge progress in the last few years. It is the country that has improved the most in the last decade,” he told ET in a recent interview.

The organisation has crash-tested as many as 42 cars sold in the Indian market since 2014. Of these, it found Mahindra XUV 300, Tata Altroz and Tata Nexon to be the safest.

“My 1st source of pride is that the 5 safest cars in India are Indian,” Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said on Twitter.

To be sure, most of the vehicles tested so far come with a price tag below Rs 10 lakh and many premium cars sold by foreign automakers have not been tested. These vehicles could be safer if crash tested.

Other cars to excel on the test include Mahindra Thar, which got a 4-star rating earlier this week. Tata Tiago and Tigor, Volkswagen Polo, Mahindra Marazzo, Toyota’s now-discontinued Etios and Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza also feature amongst the top-10 on the list.

Foreign automakers have been criticised for making the same cars safer for export to other countries than the ones sold in India. A recently-launched high-selling SUV in India fared much better on crash tests in the US.

“It often depends on regulatory standards. For example, in most high-income countries electronic stability control (ESC) is mandatory but is not yet in India. Since the adoption of India’s crash test standards, it is more likely that the body shell strength will be more similar. Other differences may relate to number of air bags fitted,” Ward said.

Global NCAP attracted a sharp response from Maruti Suzuki when it rated the S-Presso as a 0-star car earlier this month. The market leader in a press statement said that all its vehicles were compliant with global safety standards and were duly tested and certified by the Indian government.

“It cannot be left to the opinion of any self-proclaimed party,” Maruti Suzuki’s statement read.


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