We got an up-close look at Gravity with Lucid Motors’ SVP of Design and Brand, Derek Jenkins

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This week, Lucid Motors invited Electrek to an exclusive ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of Phase 2 of its AMP-1 facility in Casa Grande, Arizona. Part of the festivities included a factory tour, an interview with CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson, and our best look at Lucid’s upcoming Gravity SUV to date. Senior Vice President of Design and Brand Derek Jenkins walked me around Gravity and shared some insights into what went into this unique electric SUV.

Yesterday’s visit to AMP-1 was filled with excitement as local politicians joined CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson on stage to cut the ribbon on Phase 2 – a 3 million-square-foot expansion that moves all of Lucid’s production and storage into one facility, adds a stamping machine, and includes a second body shop where Gravity – the American automaker’s second flagship model will be built.

Gravity has been a long time coming, as we first caught wind of the SUV in 2020 during the premiere of the Air sedan when Lucid briefly teased it. Not different from CEO Peter Rawlinson’s mention yesterday of a “mid-size” Tesla Model 3 and Model Y competitor in the works as Lucid’s third model.

Details of Gravity picked up in November 2022, when we saw some interior images ahead of the start of reservations. A year later, Gravity was officially unveiled with a slew of exciting design upgrades, a 440-mile range, and a front end that has earned the new term “frunking.”

Now, with the next phase of Lucid’s AMP-1 facility open for business, Gravity will soon begin scaled production. On-site in Arizona, I had the opportunity to kick the tires on the SUV and interview Lucid’s SVP of design and brand, Derek Jenkins.

Gravity is Lucid’s next chapter en route to “mid-size”

Gravity is still very much a higher-end luxury SUV competing with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, but this EV represents more than just Lucid’s next fancy model. It’s a culmination of design elements that counter the nuances and other lessons learned when building the Air.

Furthermore, Gravity offers a premium-level “yin” to the Air’s “yang,” as a bookend to the ultra-luxe EVs and a segue into Lucid’s more affordable “mid-size” and beyond – if it can stay afloat long enough to reach that milestone. That said, a lot is riding on the success of Gravity, but Lucid’s team is confident that consumers will… gravitate toward it.

We’ve already covered the SUV’s specs up and down since last year, so it was refreshing to see, touch, and even climb into the third row of Gravity and get design insight directly from one of the top minds behind it – Derek Jenkins:

Gravity had its own unique set of attributes and challenges over Air to really create the next generation of SUV and excel at all of our unique attributes of aerodynamics, efficiency, space utility, flexibility, road worthiness, and degree of off-road capability.

Jenkins assured us that Gravity will be the most aerodynamic SUV when it comes to market. While Gravity shares several design elements with the Air, Lucid has introduced some new and exciting components you may or may not have noticed. Of course, you’ve noticed the frunk seat, but the SUV’s cockpit is a completely new approach compared to the sedan.

Whereas the driver’s display sits within the dashboard in the Air, about 35% of it can be blocked from view by the steering wheel. Jenkins told us that really bothered him, so they moved the curved display up below the sight line and into full view and implemented a different steering wheel that is shorter but still rounded at the bottom you can observe in the images above.

When production begins later this year, Lucid Gravity will join a short but growing list of larger electric SUVs promising 6-7 seats by way of the third row. For some vehicles, the third row is a gimmick that can barely hold children; for others like the Kia EV9 for example, it’s still tight but doable. Jenkins told us that space optimization and delivering modular cargo space in addition to a third row were vital when designing Gravity:

The A-post is really far forward, the driver and passenger are pushed forward, and that’s what enables this really large cargo and people area. As we connected more and more with, not only Lucid owners but family SUV owners, second row, third row spaciousness as well as cargo flexibility and overall cargo is paramount. It literally trumps everything.

So we spent so much time optimizing the package, learned a lot from Air and stretched it. You end up with this very long sleek cabin, short nose, and as you come toward the back of the car, there is a lot of taper in the cabin while still preserving really really good third row headroom. Making a proper third row was a big big part of this.

The Air sedan is already touting the largest frunk in the business, and the Lucid Gravity takes flexible cargo to another echelon. The rear well stowage inside the trunk is enormous, and the ability to fold down the passenger cabin’s seats entirely flat is a huge bonus.

Derek told me he could fit an 8.5-foot surfboard in the trunk diagonally, and Peter Rawlinson told me he hopes future owners use it to transport 2x4s some day. We’ll see about that, but there is no denying the space optimization in Gravity throughout. Have a look:

Those second-row seats fold flat as well. Lastly, while sitting in the Lucid Gravity with Derek, I asked what he thinks US consumers will be most excited about when they get to see this SUV up close like I did:

I think it’s two things. First, I think the cockpit will be a fresh experience for most people because it’s different from most of our mainstream competitors and I think the steering configuration is unique. I also think the cargo experience is going to be awesome. Not just for micro cargo, but also frunk, trunk, seat flexibility, and then human space.

Being able to have a car with this level of performance, agility, capability on-road and off-road, and yet still be just under the Cadillac Escalade in terms of overall interior volume, which is just crazy. That car is four feet longer than this thing. It not only has to look great and drive great, but it has to do the job. i think people are going to be astounded here because thaty’s what’s important in the segment.

Our next step will be to get behind the wheel of the Lucid Gravity and see what it delivers from a performance standpoint. That opportunity is already in the works, so expect a full report very soon.

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