We’ve been looking at some details of the Lucid Air this week, after seeing the car up-close-and-personal at a private event in LA this last weekend. Now to delve into some details of the car’s interface with a little wild speculation. Hop below the jump for some pictures and analysis.
The show car did have an active touchscreen with several driving settings on it – some of which we’ve seen in other cars, and some of which seem rather novel. The settings on the “driving” screen are mostly ones made familiar in Tesla’s Model S – creep, steering mode, suspension height, etc. But the “advanced driving” menu had some more adventurous settings available which we’ll look at below.
Of course, this is all prototype software, which will definitely change before release, but when has that ever stopped EV geeks from getting way too deep into the details?
First, here’s the “driving” settings screen:
These settings all seem relatively expected. Many are available on the Model S and other vehicles. “Drive mode” splits into Sport, Comfort and Range modes, which presumably affect acceleration settings. “Creep” selects whether or not the car creeps forward when the brake isn’t being held down, and “Regen” turns regenerative braking on and off. “Suspension height” selects the height of the air suspension, useful for clearing tall driveways and speedbumps, and “auto-lowering suspension” will make the car squat closer to the ground at speed in order to improve aerodynamics and efficiency.
One feature here which might not make it to production is the ability to turn off “traction control” – this cuts power to the drive wheels when the car detects slippage, to prevent the car from going out of control, so many manufacturers are loathe to allow drivers to select a setting which makes the car less safe. Nevertheless, sports driving enthusiasts like the ability to turn off traction control, so there’s a fair chance this could make it to production.
One thing missing from the “driving settings” is a possible “one-pedal driving mode”, which an employee said Lucid is considering. This mode would activate maximum regenerative braking and an incline-decline hill hold function, so the driver would rarely need to touch the brake pedal.
Then, there’s fun stuff in the advanced driving menu:
The one familiar setting here is “steering mode,” which likely works similarly to the Model S. Far more interesting are the other settings. “Suspension mode” is a little cryptic, but might refer to stiffness – stiffer suspension response helps improve performance characteristics on a smooth road, at the cost of a harsher ride.
“Brake feeling” is another strange one. Either it refers to the strength of the regenerative braking system, as some other cars allow selection of, or it actually changes the physical feel of the brake pedal. Regen seems the more reasonable explanation, but then why put it on a different page from the other regen setting, and why not call it “regen strength” or something more obvious?
But the most interesting is “power distribution.” This allows the driver to switch on the fly between all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and front-wheel drive modes. These settings all completely change the performance and driving characteristics of the car – AWD is the quickest off the line with the best traction and good in low-traction scenarios; RWD is punchy yet squirrelly, making it easier to kick the back of the car out on acceleration; FWD should be more efficient at cruising speeds as it will use the smaller 400hp front motor. It’s a bit of a novelty as AWD will generally offer the “best” experience all the time, and the car will likely be able to “sleep” the rear motor automatically while cruising anyway. But sportscar enthusiasts enjoy the feel of a rear-wheel drive car, so this would be a welcome setting for that reason. Even with AWD, though, the car has some of that RWD “kick,” with a torque ratio which is about one-third in the front and two-thirds in the rear.
Lastly there’s “stability control.” Similar to traction control, it seems even more unlikely that stability control – which automatically applies brakes to individual wheels to try to rescue an out-of-control car – will be a selectable setting on the production version of the car. The NHTSA has required all cars sold in the US since 2012 to include stability control, and few cars allow it to be disabled. It’s a very important safety feature and you really shouldn’t turn it off unless you’re on a closed course and really know what you’re doing anyway, so we won’t be missing much if this setting doesn’t make it to production.
The last menu on the screen is the “CAN log.” This is a readout of technical data for the car, useful for engineering and service purposes, but almost certainly won’t be visible to the end user.
Again, lots of this is speculation, but it’s fun anyway. A Lucid employee told us that the company hasn’t decided yet whether or not to leave these options in the final version of the car. It seems likely that suspension height or steering mode will make it through, but others will probably hit the chopping block.
But there are a few really interesting features which don’t seem too out-of-the-question and would be awesome to see on a production car. Let’s hope that “power distribution” setting remains!
As a bonus for reading this far, the image above is a screen on the stripped-down engineering chassis which we got to go for a ride-along in. This display is purely for engineering purposes, but I liked getting to peek at the live temperature data for various parts of the car. That display won’t end up in the final production interface.
We’ve got a few more insights from the event to post, so stay tuned. Are there any features you’d really like to see make it to production? Let us know in the comments.
(as a parting gift, here’s a video of Mate Rimac showing off his Rimac Concept_One and its AWD/RWD/FWD settings which are not unlike Lucid’s)