Lucid Air vs. Tesla: How the Newcomer Won ‘Car of the Year'

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Andrew Kidd
Updated on Jun 1, 2022 · 3 min read
MotorTrend’s 2022 Car of the Year (COTY) is a…the
Lucid Air
? Wait, is that still a thing?
Very much so, since it beat out its direct EV competitor
Tesla
for COTY consideration.
MotorTrend
(MT) named the Lucid Air its 2022 Car of the Year in November. The electric sedan outperformed every vehicle in its class for the title—particularly Tesla, which didn’t rank as a contender for this year’s award despite its recent successes.

What is the Lucid Air?

Let’s start with a little refresher. Lucid is a start-up automaker specializing in electric vehicles. While many EV makers seem to pop up—and disappear—overnight, Lucid managed to survive long enough to bring both an electric sedan and
SUV
to market. 
With a bevy of automotive experts in its ranks and plenty of funding, this automaker is willing to go toe-to-toe with other established EV makers like Tesla.

The Lucid Air has an innovative motor

Reviewers pointed out its tiny motor, which enables the made-in-house powertrain to churn out up to 1,111 horsepower and 1,390 lb-ft of torque in its higher-trim Air Dream P edition. 
Some creative engineering let Lucid squeeze even more torque out of its engine through optimized position of the motor’s magnets. Pair that with differentials inside the rotor on each side of the motor and you get a drivetrain with what MotorTrend said is triple the power density of its competitors.

More efficient than Tesla

The Lucid Air delivers
451-520 miles of range
from its 118 and 112 kWh batteries, with a 92-kWh battery pack coming later to offer around 400 miles of range. A combined EPA rating ranging from 111-131 mpg-e makes it the most efficient large electric sedan in America, beating out the Tesla Model S’s 96-120 mpg-e—a key selling point for it and every other EV on the market.

Lucid wins in looks, Tesla wins in performance

Additionally, the Lucid Air takes design cues from Formula 1 aerodynamic technology to reduce drag and even produce negative drag.
Reviewers also called out the sedan’s interior as blazing its own trail—in contrast with Tesla’s devotion to minimalism.
One area where Lucid fell behind Tesla was speed. The Lucid Air’s 800-horsepower iteration reached a top quarter-mile speed of 103.1 mph, which is faster than every EV on the market—save for the Tesla Model S Plaid and
Porsche Taycan Turbo S
The Lucid Air Dream P, however, could be coming for them yet.

Lucid vs. Tesla?

The battle for EV dominance is just beginning. Lucid CEO/CTO Peter Rawlinson was previously chief vehicle engineer for Tesla and was unable to influence the design of the Model S. 
MotorTrend reported that he wanted the new Lucid Air to play upon the strengths of its compact powertrain, which resulted in a sedan with luxury interior proportions and smaller exterior footprint.
With this personal connection between Lucid and Tesla, we’re bound to see some healthy competition between Lucid and Tesla in the coming years.

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