NEWARK, Calif.—Lucid Motors created a line of powerful, compact, and efficient permanent magnet electric motors that can spin up to 20,000 rpm. It combined them with an inverter and an integrated transmission and differential. The result is a state-of-the-art electric drive unit that weighs just 163 pounds (74kg) and packs over 650 hp, Lucid Motors said in a release that provided details of the proprietary electric drivetrain for its forthcoming Lucid Air luxury electric vehicle (EV).
The Lucid Air has up to 1,080 horsepower available in a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive architecture, and is said to achieve quarter-mile times as low as 9.9 seconds on a consistent, repeatable basis. Its extended-range capability offers an EPA range estimated at up to 517 miles on a single charge.
“Our watchword has been ‘focus’ since day one at Lucid—a focus on sound engineering principles, a focus on creating efficiencies, and a focus on maximizing power to create a world-class EV,” said Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO, Lucid Motors, in the release. “When the Lucid Air comes to market next spring, the world will see that we have developed the best electric vehicle technology possible by a wide margin and effectively created a new benchmark for EVs. The result is nothing short of a technological tour de force in every facet upon which a luxury performance car is measured.”
Small enough to fit inside a standard airline carry-on roller bag, Lucid’s electric drive unit has a power density that is “well beyond anything else offered on the EV market at 41 hp per liter,” the company said in the release. The compact nature of the electric drive unit allows for the use of one, two, or three units to power a Lucid Air. For their power, the motors are said to be “two-and-a-half times more volumetrically compact than the closest competitor.”
The enablers of these electric motor characteristics include a set of inventions that are part of Lucid intellectual property. Lucid introduced what it called “an elegant and revolutionary new motor winding technology” to maximize power output and reduce electrical losses. The motor also features an innovative cooling system that is said to remove heat more effectively from the stator winding, minimizing losses and boosting efficiency. The compactness of these electric drive units lays the foundation for Lucid’s Space Concept vehicle design approach. This is achieved in part by the transmission and differential, which have been fully integrated for the first time in an electric motor. Together, they comprise a single rotational system that is both lightweight and extremely efficient. Meanwhile, Lucid leverages a high voltage, silicon-carbide MOSFET system in its inverters to maximize efficiency, especially in real-world driving conditions, the release said.
An ultra-high, 900V+ architecture, combined with Lucid’s Wunderbox onboard charging unit, serve as the heart of the Air’s electrical platform. The Wunderbox is described as a unique, multi-function unit, developed entirely in-house to ensure compatibility with, and the maximizing of, charging systems of differing voltages, specifically boost-voltage charging. It also allows the Lucid Air to charge at rates of up to 300 miles in 20 minutes and up to 20 miles in one minute when connected to a DC Fast Charging network (such as those offered by Lucid’s charging partner, Electrify America, on its nationwide network).
The Wunderbox enables a wide array of future-ready, bi-directional power delivery features from the vehicle to the grid (V2G) for situations such as managing home power outages. It can also enable vehicle to vehicle charging (V2V).
Lucid drew upon 10 years of experience and more than 20 million miles of real-world testing in creating its compact 113kWh extended-range battery packs with high energy density. Atieva, Lucid’s technology division, designed, developed, and manufactures the battery packs. It has supplied the battery packs for the entire field of entries in the Formula E racing series since 2018, with an agreement continuing through 2022.