Both the Plaid and Sapphire represent extreme versions of already crazy-fast EV sedans.
“When we set out to do the Lucid Air, it was clear that luxury had to be paramount and that we really wanted to position the brand in a luxury place,” said Derek Jenkins, senior vice president of brand and design, during a walk-around of the Sapphire.
“That said, performance has always been a priority. The Air, especially in its top forms, is an incredible performance vehicle. But as performance enthusiasts, we felt there was another level” with the Sapphire, Jenkins said.
In fact, the Air was designed from the ground up to have room for two motors at the rear for a performance version. Those motors allow for a top speed of over 200 mph and torque vectoring to improve balance during hard cornering.
The Sapphire gets bigger tires, unique wheels, carbon-fiber brakes and an upgraded suspension for screaming around the racetrack, said Erich Bach, senior vice president of product and chief engineer at Lucid Group.
“We didn’t just put a third motor in the car [and say] it’s a Sapphire,” Bach said. “We looked at the vehicle holistically.”
At Monterey Car Week this month, the Air Sapphire received the kind of publicity that also makes it a marketing tool for the manufacturer.
“It does make sense, especially if they want to steal away the buzz from Tesla’s Model S Plaid,” said DeGraff. “But the underlying logic of a halo product north of the $200,000 price point with seriously absurd performance numbers is likely to keep cash flowing.”