The car is basically a luxobarge dedicated to people who love comfort, want cool stuff available at their fingertips, and don't want to own a German-made automobile.
With 800 hp, a 112-kWh battery good for an EPA-rated 520 mi on a full charge, and the 900V architecture enabling impressive charging speeds (adding around 200 mi of range in under 20 minutes), this dual-motor all-wheel-drive sedan has a starting cost of $138,000 and is trying to sway you away from things like the Tesla Model S, Mercedes-Benz EQS, or the BMW i7.
Owning an (expensive) EV in the US? Not as electrifying as one may thinkA YouTuber from the Out of Spec crew decided to embark on a 2,000-mile journey from Colorado to Connecticut. His Lucid chosen for this adventure was nearly perfect. The vehicle would have theoretically required five or six quick stops at the most to recharge the generous energy storage unit.
Since the Lucid Air Grand Touring can take advantage of the best DC fast chargers out there (350-kW stalls), the man wouldn't have had to spend more than 30 or 40 minutes plugged in. Besides that, the vehicle tells the driver when and where they should recharge for the most efficient trip possible via the infotainment system. As such, a road trip like this wouldn't theoretically require any serious planning beforehand. All he had to do was follow the navigation.
But you already know things went south because you read the title of this article.
Let's rewind for a bit.
To summarize, the attempt remained an attempt. The team, although well prepared, could not establish a new EV Cannonball record. Whilst some may be inclined to blame the car, traffic, or law enforcement for slowing down the crew and making them fail, the main reason was that the charging network was unable to work correctly in most cases. They even accounted for possible damaged stalls, but it wasn't enough.
Now, let's return to the Colorado to Connecticut trip.
Electrify America's chance at redeeming itselfThe same very capable Lucid Air Grand Touring got put through a somewhat shorter trip than the coast-to-coast one. However, the owner figured out right after starting the journey that it would be unnecessarily lengthy.
This issue isn't unique to Lucid vehicles, but it seems to affect all-electric cars with battery packs with a voltage of at least 800V. For example, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 owners have reported similar issues online. Even Genesis owners experienced the same outcome because all these South Korean vehicles are built on the E-GMP platform.
But there are other models affected by the rapidly oscillating charging speed. Porsche Taycan, for example, is also experiencing similar problems. However, since the vehicle operates in a different voltage range than the Lucid and the Hyundai models, it's far less affected by the phenomenon known as "Signet Surge."
Figuring it outNobody knows exactly what causes the charging rate to spike and drop so fast and often, but it seems to affect older Electrify America stalls made by SK Signet. Hence the nickname given to this phenomenon. It's also possible that some ABB chargers may have rendered similar outcomes.
Some people think it's a software-related problem; others blame the stalls' power modules. However, a couple of things are evident at the time of writing.
One, nobody knows how to fix the Signet Surge issue without replacing all the stalls with new ones or overhauling the software suite.
All that's known is that vehicles capable of charging very fast may be susceptible to the Signet Surge, thus having to spend more time plugged in.
Three, some EVs may not be able to charge as fast as possible at some Electrify America stalls.
Four, the reputation of Electrify America has suffered so badly that car buyers have coined the term "non-Tesla EV." The Supercharger network's reliability has others regretting their choices.
Moving onThe Lucid Air Grand Touring owner continued his trip and experienced the same phenomenon at other charging stations.
Fortunately, on the last leg of the journey, he found a newer Electrify America station where ABB-made stalls worked as expected and dispensed electrons at a swift rate – only 82 minutes were needed for a 7% to 100% charge. Keep in mind that most EVs slow their charging rate considerably after the 80% threshold.
Now, it's clear that Electrify America has a lot of work to do. Besides the Signet Surge, people also complain about slower-than-advertised charging speeds. That's bound to make road-trippers upset.
The problem with non-Tesla EVs today is that they don't enjoy a comprehensive and reliable charging network. But with the numerous incentives coming from the federal government, the interest of EV makers to provide their customers with reliable DC fast chargers, the fossil fuel giants entering the EV charging space, and the industry-wide switch to Tesla's charging port…
Finally, this article must be perceived as something other than a dig at Electrify America. I firmly believe this Dieselgate-born charging network will become a strong competitor for Tesla's Supercharger. Still, it cannot reach its potential by estranging prospective customers, especially those with free charging deals with their vehicle acquisition!
Someone buying an EV for the first time and expecting to live with it like with a gas-powered car may experience disappointment and frustration, which will only alienate them from believing in a zero-tailpipe emission future.
It's time to get together, Electrify America (and VW)! BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis are coming for you through their Ionity-like alliance for the US, while Tesla is out there making people jealous they didn't buy a NACS-equipped car.
Colorado to Connecticut Lucid Air Road Trip @RateYourCharge thread #1. Not starting off good here AT ALL. Plug and charge failed 2 times, signet surge kicked in and I invented a dance called the “Signet Surge” with new words to Old McDonald that you will have to see in my road… pic.twitter.com/pDG53aggwv— Out Of Spec Dave (@OutofSpecDave) July 22, 2023