Lucid Motors’ all-electric Air will start below $80,000

After months of teasers and announcements, Lucid Motors will finally reveal its first all-electric luxury sedan, the Air, during a live stream on September 9. But of course, the day before the big reveal, a little bit of news has trickled out.

Lucid Motors has previously alluded that it will offer a high-end variant of the Air. That flagship variant, called the Dream, is expected to cost $169,000 (or $161,500 after federal tax credits are accounted for), according to a report by Bloomberg. The report said Lucid will produce a Grand Touring variant that will be priced in the low $130,000s after federal tax credits, as well as a sub-$100,000 Touring model.

TechCrunch has learned there will be a fourth and cheaper base model priced under $80,000. It’s unclear just how much cheaper the base version of the Air will be or when it will be available; automakers often start producing their most expensive models first. If Lucid follows that strategy, the base version won’t be available until late 2021 or 2022.

A base model Air priced under $80,000 would put it in direct competition with the Tesla Model S. The base Tesla Model S has a range of 402 miles and costs $74,990. Lucid Motors has previously disclosed that Air has an estimated U.S. EPA range of 517 miles, although it’s possible that the base model will have a lower range. If the EPA validates that range, the Air would blow past every other EV on the road today, including Tesla. And if the base model has a range above 400 miles, it could further dampen sales of the Tesla Model S. Most of Tesla’s sales come from the Model 3.

Lucid has already disclosed a number of other details about its upcoming electric sedan, including that it is capable of a 9.9-second quarter mile, making it faster than most production cars on the market. But what might be more attractive to prospective customers is the vehicle’s advanced driver assistance system, which is designed to support hands-free driving on highways.

Earlier this summer, Lucid revealed that the Air will be loaded with 32 sensors, a driver-monitoring system and an Ethernet-based architecture for its advanced driver assistance system, which it calls DreamDrive. The total number isn’t what matters. The type and location — and of course, the software — does. So far, Lucid has just provided details on the hardware.

The Air will come with one lidar, radar, cameras and ultrasonic sensors. Lidar — the light detection and ranging radar that measures distance using laser light to generate a highly accurate 3D map of the world around the car — is a noteworthy inclusion. The sensor is typically used on autonomous vehicles, not the production cars, trucks and SUVs that consumers will buy and drive. Lucid said its long-range lidar sensor will be placed in the front of the vehicle.

Lucid has previously said it will produce the Air at its new Arizona factory in early 2021, about three months later than expected due to a slowdown caused by COVID-19. Construction resumed in early June at its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona. At the time, the company said it was on target to complete phase one this year. Lucid Motors has also restarted vehicle development work at its California facility, which was briefly delayed due to shelter-in-place orders.