Lucid showed off some new footage of a beefed up prototype of the car, dubbed the “Alpha Speed Car,” blazing around a test track at a ridiculous 235 mph, a marked improvement from the 217 mph a previous version of the car hit back in April.
Lucid pulled out all the stops for the test. The production model of the Air is restrained by a software cap, keeping drivers from letting the beast loose on the highway.
But the track prototype is a different matter entirely. Lucid engineers tweaked and adjusted the system to prep the car for super speeds, updating its air suspension software, front motor, and adding new aerodynamically efficient wheels. Most importantly, that software speed cap was cast aside and replaced with a directive to go as fast as possible.
After the adjustments, the Air prototype was able to come off a banked turn at 215 mph before pushing to the final 235.44 mph, as confirmed by GPS.
Lucid’s closest comparison is, of course, Tesla, whose Model S is widely renowned as the fastest accelerating car in the world. The sedan scoots from zero to 60 mph in 2.28 seconds, at last test, but the automaker caps the speed with a software limit for a top speed of 155 mph.
We’re unaware of any similar uncapped test runs by the Model S, as Tesla typically emphasizes safety and acceleration rather than all-out speed. Lucid claims the Air boasts a 2.5 second zero to 60 mph acceleration time, for what it’s worth.
It’s important to remember that there’s a major distinction between the fastest car in the world, and the quickest car in the world. There aren’t many cars that can challenge the Model S off the line but in a longer race, it might be easily passed by cars without a software cap after the initial speed burst.
The Lucid Air prototype’s impressive 235 mph mark wouldn’t make it the fastest “production” car in the world that title goes to the Hennessey Venom GT or Bugatti Chiron at 270 mph and 261 mph, respectively (the Hennessey record comes with a bit of an asterisk).
But the prototype isn’t what consumers will be getting when the first Lucid Airs roll off the line in 2018. The sedans, which will start at $52,000 with tax credits, are much more focused on the rider experience, with a self-driving system to rival Tesla’s Autopilot and a large five-seat configuration for plenty of space.
The company’s chief technology officer, Peter Rawlinson, told my colleague Raymond Wong earlier this year that he sees the German luxury brands as bigger rivals than Tesla, even with the EV similarities.
Still, the Lucid prototype helps to prove something that Tesla has helped to answer: electric cars can flat out fly.
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