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Lucid Motors Air takes aim at Tesla Model S

Chinese-backed Tesla-botherer Lucid Motors has revealed its all-electric Model S competitor due for production in 2018. And you shouldn't write it off as a cheap knock-off just yet.

The stunning Lucid Motors Air is aimed squarely at Tesla's all-electric sedan, and offers similar specifications when it comes to range and power, and even better performance.

The Chinese-owned and California-based company wants to be building its Air out of a new factory in Arizona by the end of 2018. And while its all-electric model is still officially a concept, it already has road-going prototypes in use, and it carries some seriously heavy credentials into battle with Tesla.

For a start, its design team is led by the creative crayons of former Mazda designer Darren Jenkins (the man at least partly responsible for the newest MX-5), so the Air's stunning swooping style is firmly based in reality. Second, Lucid Motors is sourcing its lithium-ion battery cells from Samsung SDI - the same company that provides the batteries for both the BMW i3 and i8 supercar.

Those very batteries will be powering Formula E cars in seasons five and six, with Lucid coming on as the sole battery supplier. Lucid Motors says the battery cells were chosen because Samsung's "next-gen" technology featured a breakthrough in minimising the damage caused by repeated quick-charging - something crucially important to EVs. Range is about on-par, too, with the company promising around 600km per charge.

That power would be enough to clip 100km/h in around 2.5 seconds. If true, that shaves a handy 0.2secs off the sprint time of the Tesla Model S P100D.

"Samsung SDI combined their in-house chemistry experience with massive real-world datasets and state-of-the-art battery models provided by Lucid to develop a cell that is both energy dense and resistant to damage associated with fast-charging," said Lucid's director of battery technology, Albert Liu.

But as with Tesla, the headline news is in the performance. Like its competitor's fastest models, the Lucid Air is powered by two electric motors, one at each axle, generating a combined 745-ish kilowatts. So while the only thing 'ludicrous' about the Lucid Air is its name, that power would be enough to clip 100km/h in around 2.5 seconds. If true, that shaves a handy 0.2secs off the sprint time of the Tesla Model S P100D.

Pitched as an executive offering, the Air will arrive as a four-seater that promises the interior space of a large sedan within the exterior dimensions of a mid-size car. Among the luxury offerings are a 29-speaker audio system with active noise cancellation, air suspension and what Lucid is calling a first-class experience for rear passengers, with the two rear "executive" seats offering 55 degrees of recline.

"I believe that the electric powertrain can unlock doors to an array of designs that hasn't been achieved before," Lucid CTO Peter Rawlinson told media at the LA Auto Show.

"We have a car that's a little bit bigger than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but it's actually less long, narrower, and lower than a Tesla Model S and it's got the interior space of a long wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S Class."

Expect a circa-US$100,000 price tag when the car goes on sale in there USA in late 2018, but Australian pricing remains a mystery, with the car yet to be confirmed for a Down Under launch.

Is this a Lucid dream, or should Tesla be worried? Tell us what you think in the comments below.