Lucid has done a lot to make the Air EV as rad as it is, and the work that went into Lucid’s drive units is high on the list. Not only are they capable of generating incredible amounts of power, but they’re also tiny. Seriously: One motor could pretty much fit into a carry-on suitcase. How has Lucid been able to shrink its drive unit down so much?
Enter Lucid head honcho Peter Rawlinson and this extremely long, very detailed tech talk on the company’s motor technology. If you want a deep dive into the many aspects of Lucid’s drive unit design, the company’s one-hour-and-15-minute-long video is for you.
What if you don’t have an hour-plus to zone out and learn about EV motors? The TL;DW is as follows. First, Lucid changed the way it assembles its stators, using a different wire shape and technique that allows them to be entirely assembled by a machine while also being very electrically efficient. It’s called Continuous Wave Winding, and Lucid is presently the only company that does it. It’s pretty interesting, and Rawlinson — who writes the letter “X” like someone who’s never seen one before — compares the Lucid stator to those from other companies from places like Fremont and Germany.
Another super cool innovation is Lucid’s decision to place its differential into the hollow center of its motor rotor. This space is rarely utilized in conventional electric car motors, since it’s not especially useful in the generation of torque. Tossing a teensy-tiny differential in there is smart because it allows the drive unit to be considerably smaller than if the differential was separate from the motor itself.
The diff being small also saves weight, but how can it cope with the huge amounts of torque that an EV motor generates? The secret is that it doesn’t. Or rather, it doesn’t have to deal with the monstrous torque that’s measured at the wheels. Instead, it deals with motor torque (before the motor’s output is sent through the reduction gears built into any EV’s drive unit). In this case, motor torque is around 1/7 the amount of force the Lucid unit puts to the wheels. Less force means less strength is needed, which means the diff can be smaller. Bingo!
I could go on (God knows Rawlinson does in this Lucid-produced video), but you kind of get the idea. There is a lot going on here that makes the Lucid drive unit incredibly innovative and super lightweight. The whole tech talk is seriously worth a watch, especially if you’re into EVs (which you should be, they’re amazing). Having spent a considerable amount of time with the Air, I appreciate that vehicle even more now that I have a better understanding of how it works.