• The Man Behind the Tesla Model S Says the Lucid Air Sedan is Better

Can he replicate the same success with the Lucid Air?

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Peter Rawlinson has worked for many big automotive companies in his career. He has worked as the Principal Engineer at Jaguar, Chief Engineer of Advanced Engineering at Lotus, and most recently, as the Chief Engineer who made the Tesla Model S what it is today. Presently, he’s associated with Lucid where he looks after the same stuff along with looking after the company as the CEO and CTO.

MotorTrend spoke to him recently about his time at Tesla and his current projects, and Rawlinson went on to say that his upcoming sedan, the Lucid Air, is better than the Tesla Model S. Given the man’s stellar reputation and the work he’s done in the past, will the Air dethrone Tesla and be the new premium electric sedan?

How Did Peter Rawlinson Join Tesla?

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Rawlinson recollects how he got a call from Elon Musk in 2009 when he was looking for a good engineer to spearhead the Model S project. Although uninterested initially, Peter figured out that this could be achievable. With a team of six engineers, they set up an office at Space X. He remembers that back then Tesla was the underdog and people had their money on Fisker. He said,

“Ten years ago, they were the underdog. The hot money was on Fisker. I was working my guts out on the Model S and slaving away with a very small team of brilliant engineers; I'd persuaded a lot of them to come and join me. While Tesla was the unheard of underdog, we had the real deal in terms of engineering talent—that was the differentiator.”

Rawlinson further added that post the Model S’ success, Musk became the face of EVs, and "suddenly everyone was doing an electric car, and they hadn’t a clue how to do it." They felt that all they needed was to source the motors, inverter, and battery system, and slap a big screen in the cabin. “It really hurt us because we were genuine, with genuine technology.”, he said.

Battery Supply To Formula E Changed The Fortunes

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Speaking about Lucid, Rawlinson said that the company wasn’t successful in getting funds because venture capitalists were putting their money on autonomous technology. To differentiate themselves, Lucid changed its direction and supply batteries to Formula E. He said, “My team thought I was nuts because we were running low on money with our backs to the wall developing the Alpha prototypes in 2016. Williams Grand Prix Engineering had been building 28-kWh pack for the first few seasons that could last half a race distance. We tried to sell the FIA in Paris on the idea that we could make a 54-kWh one to last the full race.”

Even though other companies were ready to offer it for free, he wanted Lucid to be a profitable company. Surprisingly, they won the bid, and “to this day, we have a 100 percent reliability record with all 24 cars on the grid using a battery,”. This led them to receive a $1 Billion investment from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. He said that Lucid will put this DNA in the Air’s battery pack.

What Will The Lucid Air Be Like?

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Lucid had designed prototypes in 2016, but the Air is completely different today. He wanted the Air to be the “best electric car imaginable. Surpass my last one, the Model S.” He says the 2016 prototype Alpha fleet ran on induction motors with 400-volt architecture. The Air makes use of permanent magnets rated at over 900 volts. “We can use one, two, or three of our motors, so the Air could have 600 hp, 1,200 hp, or 1,800 hp. Currently, we have 1,100 hp at the battery pack, and 1,000 hp from the two motors.”, he added. Rawlinson also said he’s working on the missed opportunities with the Tesla to make the Air a better product. One of them is giving the latter a trunk instead of a hatch.

Final Thoughts

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Rawlinson said that he understands people are skeptical about Lucid because of the less credible EV startups in California. But, Lucid is different, and the fact that it’s being headed by the person responsible for the Model S and a lot of other brains from that team, it might be the next big thing. What are your thoughts on Lucid and its first product? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Source: Motor Trend

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Senior Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a senior editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
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