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The Lucid Air Is MotorTrend's Car Of The Year 2022

It's been a very good day for Lucid. Hot on the heels of delivering another two dozen Air EVs to customers around the US over the weekend the Californian startup announced that its debut sedan had been named MotorTrend's Car of the Year for 2022. Here's everything the judges praised it for.

The Air triumphed over competition from the Porsche Taycan as well as the Mercedes S-Class and EQS. MotorTrend picks its Car of the Year winner based on six categories rather than testing the cars against each other. Whichever vehicle scores highest with the panel of journalists and testers takes home the trophy. Here are the categories, as well as the things that the judges liked about the Air.

Engineering Excellence
The panel praised the Air for its small, power-dense motors and their ingenious design which packs more output into a smaller package than the competition. With the differential packaged inside the motor the Air has more room for passengers and luggage, with MotorTrend stating that it fits the interior space of an S-Class inside the exterior dimensions of the smaller E-Class. Next up for praise was the battery, winning applause for its efficient cooling design and injection-molded casing. Finally, the judges cited the "Wunderbox" electronic charging controller, which is part of the reason that the Air can add 300 miles of range from 20 minutes of charging.

Next up, efficiency, and there are no surprises here. As CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson stated in one of Lucid's press conferences,

"It's not about the size of our battery pack, it's about the efficiency of our powertrain technology, our architecture, everything that can impact range down to the decimal point."

The COTY judges cited the Air's obsessively-designed aerodynamic properties which were engineered by Jean-Charles Monnet, previously of the Red Bull Formula 1 team. While interior headroom is somewhat compromised by the need to keep the roofline low to minimize drag, the Air's smooth underbelly leading to its diffuser, as well as venting in the nose, mean that the vehicle actually produces negative drag when travelling at speed.

Advancement in Design
The Air's interior was given as one of the areas in which it excelled in this section, with the mix of familiar placement for essential functions combined with the tech-forward use of twin display screens. It's worth noting here that some of the judges bemoaned the lack of tactile buttons for features like the windscreen wipers, but the general consensus reached was that the system could be gotten used to with a little practice. Also mentioned were the Air's headlights which match the industry-leading S-Class for illumination while being much smaller units.

Performance of Intended Function
When the Air was announced by Peter Rawlinson he stated that the company had three goals for their new car: to reach S-Class levels of comfort and luxury, Lotus levels of handling responsiveness, and to have 500 miles of range. We all know how that last one turned out, but what about the other two? The judges said that their pre-production Air was supremely comfortable, if a little floaty, in its most luxurious setting while its seat massage functions were excellent. With the car set to Sprint mode they found the Air to be great fun in the corners while the driver assists were happy to let them play before stepping in gradually if things started to get out of control. Check and check.

Judges found that the Air possessed "All the expected and passive safety systems" and were complimentary about the amount of on-board monitoring hardware. With a total of 32 sensors including 14 cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, 5 radar sensors and one lidar unit there are international spy agencies that aren't as well equipped for surveillance as the Lucid Air. The judges also praised the Air for being future-proofed by including hardware that would eventually be used for self-driving functions.

Finally we come to the question of value, and it's here that the judges cited the forthcoming $77,000 "Pure" version of the Air as being a lot of car for the money, bearing in mind that it will still have more than 400 miles of range. With the flagship Dream Editions having such a large range, it won't be hard for Lucid to move into less expensive areas of the EV market while still providing a compelling product.

In the end, MotorTrend's decision to award Car of the Year to the Lucid Air was made because the magazine believes that electric vehicles are the future of mobility. The Air, with its gigantic range, monster performance, and elegant luxury pushes the EV species forwards and that's why it wins this years Car of the Year award.

Image showing Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson accepting the Motortrend Car of the Year award at the company's headquarters.

Images from Lucid Motors licensed under CC BY 2.0.

James Walker is an automotive journalist at Torque News focusing on Lucid Motors electric vehicles. If it's got wheels he's interested in it, and he's very excited to see what kind of driver's/performance cars the EV revolution brings us. Whether it's fast, slow, new, or old, James wants to have a look around it and share it in print and on video, ideally with some twisty roads or a track involved. You can connect with James on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.