Electric Vehicles Moving Up the Power Charts
There was a time when the thought of battery-powered cars and drag racing–or any kind of racing, for that matter–seemed incongruous. Then along came Formula E (see our previous post on the launch of this racing series), and it began to dawn on the motorsports community that there might just be a relationship between these electric vehicles and speed. And now, as 2016 draws to a close, we’re seeing startling announcements about electric cars pushing the 1000 horsepower threshold!
Positioned prominently in the pack of contenders for top bragging rights in the Electric Vehicle (EV) speed sweepstakes is Menlo Park, California-based Lucid Motors, formerly known as battery-maker Atieva. The company caused a flurry of motorsports excitement with recent announcements of its prototype electric vehicle capable of reaching the 1000 hp plateau, with a top speed in the 200 mph bracket and a range of at least 300 miles. Plans are to build the vehicle in a newly-constructed plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, where 2,000 people will be employed in a concentrated effort to overtake the gauntlet laid down by Elon Musk with the Tesla S. In fact, spearheading much of the project is Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s Chief Technology Officer one of the key names behind the development of the Tesla S.
Lucid’s prototype will be a true version of the “connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV).” As explained in their promotional website material, “Our vehicles will feature automated driving systems, natural voice interactions, and intuitive user interfaces. Whether sitting in the front or back, the on-board intelligence will deliver a uniquely personal experience unlike any other currently on the road.” With what appears to be a relatively low center of gravity on a sedan-type body, and with battery packs stored in a manner that maximizes interior room, Lucid’s dual-motor all-wheel-drive system is expected to offer fast-charging capabilities that can retain battery power at 80% after 1000 re-charging cycles.
The prototype has not yet been officially assigned a model name, but the project’s code name is “Atvus” and is highlighted in a short YouTube video (see below). The company expects to have the vehicle in production in 2017, and on the street by late 2018. With an initial expected price point above $100,000, though, it’s not likely that you’ll see a flood of them in your neighborhood. As the product line matures, lower-end models are expected to evolve below that price, perhaps as low as $65,000 according to early reports.
With speeds at the predicted 200 mph level, and with 300- to 400-mile ranges expected, is it possible that the traditional NASCAR “stock car race” is in jeopardy? Think about it, with races shortened to match the length of a charge, and with a field of quiet, 1000 hp machines packed together in competition, how much excitement will there be without the roar of the internal combustion engines and the smell of burning fuel? Actually, it could be a whole new world for motorsports aficionados. We’ll see!