Lucid Air vs Tesla Model S: Which EV is King?
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Undoubtedly, the two hottest Electric Vehicle (EV) sedans on the market today are the Lucid Air vs Tesla Model S. While the Tesla Model S has been making a name for itself for a decade, the Lucid Air is the brand new creation from upstart EV manufacturer Lucid Motors. Today, we’re going to tackle the biggest question in the EV market place: the Lucid Air vs Tesla Model S.
Both sedans provide similar performance, similar battery range, at a similar price point. The Tesla Model S has long been king of the market, with its sleek looks and famed Ludicrous model performance. However, early reviews for the Lucid Air have been exceptional, with some people claiming it dethrones the Model S.
This guide will compare the 2023 Lucid Air vs Model S sedans to see which is the king of the EV market. Does the Model S still hold supremacy in the EV sedan market, or has it finally been overwritten by the Lucid Air? Let’s find out.
Lucid Air vs Tesla History
Though Lucid Motors is considered a newbie to the EV market, they were actually created around the same time as Tesla. Tesla, formerly Tesla Motors, was originally founded in July 2003. They quickly cornered the car on the EV market, boasting outstanding performance specs, decent battery range, and eye-catching designs.
In 2012, Tesla debuted their second car, the Model S, a high performance Sedan and successor to the Tesla Roadster. Since 2013, the Model S has consistently been ranked as one of the top EV sedans every single year, and is by far the most popular on the general market. Tesla has updated the Model S almost every year, beginning with the Model S 60 in 2013, and now with the Model S Palladium.
Lucid Motors, formerly Atieva, was founded in 2007, originally as a third-party manufacturer of batteries and motors for other EVs. In 2016, Lucid Motors officially switched their name and unveiled a prototype of the Air later that year. Production officially began in 2021, and the first versions of the Lucid Air Dreams went out to customers in October.
For 2023, both the Model S and Lucid Air are available for order, though the Lucid Air has been lagging in production. There are several different versions of both the Model S and Lucid Air, varying from entry-level base models to both range topping and performance versions. The entry-level Lucid Air is cheaper than the entry-level Model S, but the performance Air Dream is more expensive than the performance S Plaid.
Lucid Air vs Model S Specifications
|Car||Lucid Air||Tesla Model S|
|Range||410-520 miles||348-405 miles|
|Battery Type||Lithium Ion||Lithium Ion|
|Battery Capacity||112-118 kWh||100 kWh (estimated)|
|Charge Time||20 min/300 mi||15 min/200 mi|
|MPGe (Cty/Hwy)||Dream R: 110/111||S Plaid: 102/99|
|Horsepower||670-1,200 horsepower||480-1,111 horsepower|
|Price||$87,400 – $249,000||$104,990 – $135,990|
|Limited Warranty||4-year/50,000 miles||4-year/50,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||8-year/100,000 miles||8-year/150,000 miles|
Lucid Air vs Models S Trim Levels
2023 Lucid Air Models:
- Lucid Air Pure
- Lucid Air Touring
- Lucid Air Grand Touring
- Lucid Air Dream Edition (Range and Performance Trims)
- Lucid Air Sapphire
2023 Tesla Model S Models:
- Tesla Model S
- Tesla Model S Plaid
Lucid Air vs Model S Pricing
First, let’s start off our comparison by looking at one of the most important aspects of purchasing an EV: Pricing. The Lucid Air has five trim options, with the cheapest being the Lucid Air Pure at $87,400. Pricing jumps up pretty quickly from there, up to $107,400 for the Touring and $154,000 for the Grand Touring. The Lucid Air Dream clocks in at $169,000, though reservations are limited.
New for 2023 from Lucid Air will be the Sapphire. Pricing on the Sapphire is a staggering $249,000 before any delivery charges, taxes, or tax rebates/breaks.
On the other hand, the Tesla Model S has two models: the Model S and the Model S Plaid. Tesla starts pricing for the base Model S Long Range at $104,990, and sells the Model S Plaid at $135,990.
Air vs Model S: How to Buy
Both the Tesla and the Lucid Air are sold online without dealerships. To buy either a Lucid Air vs Model S, you simply go online and create a reservation for one to be built, or you register for an already available one. Pricing stays the same and there is no haggling, but you also won’t be upsold by the website relative to others, either.
However, just because they do not have dealerships, you can still view the Lucid Air vs Model S in person. Tesla has long had showrooms available where you can go talk with a Tesla representative and potentially test drive a car at some locations. There you can look over the Model S head-to-toe to examine every last spec.
Lucid Air is much newer than Tesla, and as a result they just opened their first Lucid Air Studio in Cherry Creek, Colorado over the 2022 summer. It is the only retail location for Lucid, though they have plans to open a total of at least 27 in the near future.
Air vs Model S: Availability
It’s no secret, but the Model S is much easier to get your hands on than the Lucid Air. Tesla’s production far exceeds that of Lucid Motors, and it’s not even close. Delivery time for Tesla is very quick within weeks, whereas with Lucid Motors you have to place a reservation without a specified delivery date. Consumers have reported waiting 2-3 months for their Lucid Air delivery date.
In addition, both the Model S trim levels are available for purchase, but not all trims of the Lucid Air are available. In particular, Lucid Motors has had trouble filling orders for the top of the line Dream Edition, and is no longer accepting reservations. Several times Lucid Motors have already had to downsize their expected quota.
As Lucid Motors invests more in their facilities they will be able to better compete, but as of now they cannot hold a candle to Tesla’s production.
Lucid Air vs Model S Pricing Verdict: Tesla
Pricing wise, we give the clear verdict to Tesla. The Lucid Air Pure is cheaper than the base Model S by nearly $20,000, and does top the Model S in terms of range. Yet, the higher trim versions of the Lucid Air, like the Grand Touring and Dream, are considerably more expensive than the high-spec Model S Plaid. Don’t even get started on the Sapphire, which is over $100,000 more than the Model S Plaid.
For a similar price, the Model S will boast superior performance with a slight dip in battery range. Let’s directly compare the similarly priced Model S base and Lucid Air Touring. The base Model S goes from 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds and has a max range of 405 miles. The Lucid Air Touring goes from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds and has a max range of 425 miles. Both of these battery ranges are assuming 19 inch wheels.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring costs just under $10,000 more for 20 more miles in range at the expense of roughly 50 horsepower (620 vs 670). Depending on your priorities, the extra charge might be worth it for the lack of performance. But if you ask us, performance is always king, and the extra cash doesn’t justify the extra mileage.
If you really want superior range from the Lucid Air, you have to step up to the Grand Touring trim, which is considerably more expensive – and slower – than the Model S Plaid.
Lucid Air vs Model S Performance
Speaking of power, both the Lucid Air vs Model S have some incredible performance specs. Starting with the entry level 480 horsepower Lucid Air Pure, it can go from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds. The Lucid Air Touring does it in 3.4 seconds with 620 horsepower, and the Grand Touring drops that down further to 2.6 seconds with 1,050 horsepower.
For their top of the line offerings, Lucid claims the Dream Edition Performance can rocket to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds through 1,111 horsepower. Though official specs have not been fully released, the 2023 Lucid Air Sapphire will have 1,200 horsepower, with an estimated 0-60 mph time of 1.89 seconds.
On the other hand, the base Model S can go from 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds, courtesy of 670 horsepower. The Model S Plaid jumps down to 1.99 seconds (with first foot of rollout subtracted) with 1,020 horsepower.
So basically, the hierarchy works like this from slowest to fastest: Lucid Air Pure; Lucid Air Touring; Tesla Model S Long Range; Lucid Air Grand Touring; Lucid Air Dream Edition; Tesla Model S Plaid; Lucid Air Sapphire (potential).
For the Model S base and all Airs except the Sapphire, both Tesla and Lucid Motors use dual-motors. However, the Model S Plaid and Sapphire use tri-motor designs, which is what gives them the superior performance. The current Model S uses all-wheel drive on all trims, whereas the Lucid Air has both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive options.
Air vs Model S Performance Verdict: Tesla
In terms of performance, once again we give the edge to Tesla. You’ll generally go faster for cheaper with the Model S vs Lucid Air, though obviously it depends on your specific model. However, if you factor in price, the Model S is a much better deal.
In order to match the performance of the Model S with the Air, you would need the Grand Touring trim, which is more than $20,000 more than the Model S Plaid. At that price, the Plaid S destroys the Grand Touring in acceleration, same with the more expensive Dream Edition.
The Sapphire will likely best the Model S Plaid in terms of 0-60 mph, but boy do you have to pay for it. We said performance is always king, but when it requires an additional $120,000 for 0.10 seconds of difference, it gets to be a little dicey. We’ll certainly pilot the Lucid Air Sapphire any day of the week, but overall the Model S still carries the day for performance.
Lucid Air vs Model S Battery
We’re talking about electric vehicles here, so obviously we’ve got to break down the Lucid Air vs Tesla Model S batteries. If you’re looking for just performance, you probably aren’t shopping for an EV, so batteries are really what’s most important.
The Lucid Air uses batteries between 112-118 kWh. It’s unknown exactly what size battery the Model S uses, and Tesla won’t say, but it’s widely believed to be a 100 kWh battery. Both the Lucid Air vs Model S batteries are lithium ion.
Air vs Model S Battery Range
In terms of battery range, the Lucid Air has the Model S beat in pretty much every category. The Model S has a range of 375-405 miles, but the Model S Plaid has a range of just 348-396 miles. The variance is given for tire size, as the bigger the tire the smaller the range. Model S tires from the factory are either 19 or 21 inches.
The cheapest Lucid Air, the Pure, boasts a max battery range of 410 miles (with 19 inch wheels), and that keeps going up with each trim level. The Touring can go up to 425 miles, while the Grand Touring has 469 miles of max range. The Dream Edition has both the Range and Performance sub-trims, with the Range maxing out at a whopping 520 miles (with 19 inch wheels). The Sapphire’s expected range is still unknown.
As you can see, even the entry level Lucid Air has more range than the Model S Long Range. Even worse, if you want the performance of the Model S Plaid, you have to be prepared to sacrifice even more range. On the other hand, the Lucid Air Grand Touring boasts similar performance as the Model S, but with potentially almost 200 miles more in range – and a $20,000 price increase.
Air vs Model S Charging Time and Chargers
There’s two important factors to consider when talking about EV charging: charging rate and charging station availability. While the Lucid Air boasts a superior charging rate, their availability is much more questionable.
Tesla is known for their network of Superchargers, which keeps growing and growing. According to the Tesla Supercharger Map, not only does every state have multiple chargers, but much of the U.S. is blanketed by the more than 40,000 available Supercharging locations. They are also generally reviewed as being reliable and in good working condition.
On the other hand, Lucid Motors relies on the Electrify America network of EV chargers for the Air. There are less than 1,000 EA chargers in the U.S., and the Electrify America Charging Stations Map is woeful compared with Tesla. In addition, many of the EA stations have been reviewed poorly due to charging problems. Many people have complained that the ultra fast charging is not available, making them wait longer.
That brings us to the second part of our comparison, charging rate. On paper, the Lucid Air should charge at a faster rate than the Model S. Using a standard 240 volt charger, the Lucid Air takes 13 hours to charge while the Model S takes 15 hours.
At a Supercharger or EA station using the fastest charging available, the Lucid Air can add 300 miles in 20 minutes, whereas the Model S adds 200 miles in 15 minutes. That works out to 15 miles/per minute in the Lucid Air, and just over 13 miles/per minute in the Model S.
Air vs Model S Battery Verdict: Lucid Air
This one is pretty tough, but we give the edge to the Lucid Air. Boasting not only longer range but faster charging times, the Lucid Air takes the crown. It should be noted that the Model S battery is actually slightly more efficient than the Lucid Air, but the size difference helps the Air battery overcome its limitations.
The only negative about the Lucid Air is the charging station situation. Having to rely on Electrify America can be rough, especially if you live in South Dakota where there are currently none available. Yet, Tesla Superchargers cost money, whereas Lucid Motors currently gives you three years free charging at EA.
It’s pretty close, but we still lean on the Lucid Air side for this one. There is also word that eventually Lucid Motors will be able to use Tesla Superchargers through an adaptor, which would massively close the gap between the two in terms of availability. But that has not been confirmed, yet.
Lucid Air vs Tesla Interior and Comfort
If you’re spending upwards of $100,000 – $250,000 on your sedan, you want to have a luxurious and comfortable interior. Both the Model S and Lucid Air deliver in those respects, but in different ways.
The Model S has had a somewhat polarizing interior since its release. The “yolk” shaped steering wheel is off-putting for many drivers, as is the lack of physical buttons. The Model S relies solely on a huge 17 inch touchscreen, making using it while driving more challenging. The touchscreen itself is known for its many different gaming and app options, like Netflix and YouTube, as well as the famous “dog mode” for if you have a pet in the car.
On the other hand, the Lucid Air has a more traditional looking interior with a traditional performance steering wheel. The Lucid Air also uses a smaller touchscreen to replace most buttons, and reviews have been mixed on it. Many have complained the touchscreen is slow to react in some instances. It also does not have the same level of infotainment as the Tesla, though it is Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatible, something the Tesla lacks.
Lucid Air vs Tesla Interior Verdict: Tie
For us, it’s pretty much a tie between the Lucid Air vs Model S interior. Some people will say the Lucid Air is a little sleeker and more professional, whereas some see the Model S is a bit more aggressive. To us it’s mostly a wash.
The Lucid Air might be a little more comfortable than the Model S, but the Model S has a vastly superior infotainment system. Depending on what you value, you might prefer the interior and Apple Carplay/Android Auto. Yet, most people will likely prefer the Tesla’s touchscreen and the Lucid Air’s comfort, making it a total toss up.
Lucid Air vs Tesla Reliability
For our final comparison, we’ll look at the Lucid Air vs Model S’ reliability. The Model S has been out for a decade now, so obviously compared with the brand new Lucid Air it’s going to show more issues. Unfortunately, even for Tesla, the Model S is rated somewhat poorly for reliability.
Pretty much everything from the door handles to the electric motors have been subjects of complaints on the Model S. The handles have been known to have problems opening and staying closed, as well as with locking. The touchscreen can completely fail for some people, which makes the car practically inoperable. The drivetrain has also had a lot of complaints, with people having failing motors and other issues.
In addition, Tesla is somewhat known for having poor quality control of their build quality. Scores of Model S owners complain about rattles and ill-fitting trim pieces, which is frustrating on such an expensive car. The Model S has had a staggering 23 NHTSA recalls since its release.
Unfortunately, the Lucid Air does not appear to be doing a lot better. So far in its first year it has had 3 NHTSA recalls for the suspension, structure, and electronics. Many people complain about laggy and buggy software, which results in things like random A/C shut-off and slow unlocking of the doors. In addition, the bumper and charger cover have also come off a suspicious number of times. Barely a year into production, the Lucid Air is not off to the best of starts.
Air vs Model S Reliability Verdict: Neither
Unfortunately, we can’t give our stamp of approval for reliability for either the Model S or the Lucid Air. Both of them have been plagued with problems from the start, with the Model S becoming almost as known for quality control issues as it is for performance. On the other hand, the Lucid Air is barely a year old and has already had a ton of issues.
Hopefully, Tesla and Lucid Motors will figure things out soon, as the Model S and Air have the potential to be some of the best vehicles ever produced. But until they figure out quality control, both of them have a long way to go.
Lucid Air vs Model S Verdict: Model S
Our final Lucid Air vs Tesla Model S Verdicts:
- Pricing: Tesla Model S
- Performance: Tesla Model S
- Battery: Lucid Air
- Interior: Tie
- Reliability: Neither
It’s a very tough comparison between the two, but overall we’d go with the Model S for your average driver. We would go as far as to say that the Lucid Air is probably a slightly superior vehicle. Yet, the incredibly expensive price tag and early issues with quality control are too much for it to overcome.
The Lucid Air does boast a larger battery, which helps it in terms of range, but boy do you have to pay a lot. In addition, the lack of available charging stations somewhat mitigates Lucid’s win in that department. The Tesla Model S offers much better performance at lower costs, and it is much easier to actually get your hands on and to charge.
Unfortunately, neither of them are particularly reliable, yet, and they have similarly received interiors. For most people, the question is going to come down to battery, performance, and costs. The Lucid Air has the best battery, but the Model S crushes it in terms of performance and costs.
If you have the extra cash-flow and are willing to deal with the growing pains of new production for extended battery life, then we’d probably recommend the Lucid Air. However, if you are looking to be a little more frugal while getting superior performance, at the expense of some range, the Tesla Model S is right for you.
Let us know what you think about the Lucid Air vs Model S in the comments below!