Lucid Motors says it can hit a quarter-mile in under 10 seconds, smashing Tesla’s record

Lucid Motors has been making a lot of bold claims in the lead-up to the September 9th unveiling of its first all-electric sedan, the Lucid Air: longest range, fastest charge, biggest battery. But today, the Newark, California-based company is truly laying its cards on the table with its claim to have built one of the quickest production cars ever made.

Not just one of the fastest-accelerating electric cars, mind you. One of the fastest-accelerating cars, period.

How fast? We already know that the Lucid Air can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and will have a top speed of 200 mph. But thanks to Lucid’s 1,080 horsepower, dual-motor configuration, the company now claims the Air can run a quarter-mile in 9.9 seconds “on a consistent, repeatable basis.”

“To date, it is the only electric sedan able to achieve a quarter-mile time under 10 seconds,” the company said. To be sure, it’s just a fraction under 10 seconds. But in the world of high-performance vehicles, that fraction makes all the difference.

To put that in perspective, the Dodge Charger, one of the fastest cars on the drag strip, can make the quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds — and that’s only with the help of a 6.2-liter V8 engine. The Lucid Air is only a smidge slower than some of the fastest (and most expensive) hypercars in the world, like the Ferrari LaFerrari (9.8 second quarter-mile; $1.4 million price tag), Porsche 918 Spyder (9.8 second quarter-mile; $845,000), and Bugatti Veyron Super Sport (9.7 second quarter-mile; $2.4 million). The Lucid Air is expected to cost somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000, depending on the trim level, which would make it quite the bargain if you’re shopping for performance.

But after a certain point, these are just numbers on a screen, right? All this speed and horsepower starts to get a little abstract, and that abstraction can be a little dangerous if not handled correctly. Just ask Richard Hammond, who is very lucky to have walked away from the burning wreckage of the hellaciously fast electric Rimac Concept One (9.1 second quarter-mile) while shooting his television show The Grand Tour in 2017.

Lucid has been teasing its eye-popping performance specs for several years now. Back in 2017, the company claimed to have hit 217 mph on its test track — a milestone that soon became moot after removing the vehicle’s speed-limiting software and taking it for a breezy summer drive at 235 mph.

How does this compare to the Tesla Model S P100D, which has already earned the reputation as the quickest EV on the market with an impressive 0–60 mph sprint in 2.9 seconds? Hard to say, since there doesn’t seem to be much information out there about Tesla’s top speed without its speed-limiting software that keeps it to 155 mph.

In fact, most luxury automakers limit their high-performing models to the same speed, thanks to a “gentleman’s agreement” between Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW a number of years ago to reduce the number of fatalities on the Autobahn.

Recently, Tesla achieved a new record with its Model S performance, sprinting a quarter-mile in 10.4 seconds thanks to the new “cheetah stance” update. That’s mind-meltingly fast, but still not as quick as the Lucid Air. (Lucid appears to have raced the Air against a Tesla, according to a fleeting glimpse in the video posted above, but it made no overt mention of the race in its press materials.)

There is an obsession among electric car manufacturers with horsepower and how many seconds it takes to run to 60 mph or a quarter-mile. (Jalopnik had a good piece on this a few years ago.) It could reflect an insecurity among EV makers about whether their cars can stand up to the muscle cars and Ford F150s that have squatted in the frontal cortex of the American car buyer for decades. They worry whether their EVs are too quiet, too sustainable, and too eco-friendly to appeal to these consumers. This leads to an over-emphasis on performance, which might appeal to some buyers despite the day-to-day impracticalities of city driving.

Lucid’s advances in performance, range, and charging times aren’t surprising given its history. The company was founded in 2007 as battery maker Atieva, originally focused on being more of a supplier in the budding world of electric vehicles than a carmaker. One of its battery customers was Formula E, with Lucid going on to supply the batteries for season five and six of the electric racing series. What better stress test for your power-delivery system than high-speed performance racing?

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