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This article was published on September 18, 2020

The Lucid Air might have just beat Tesla’s Plaid Model S round Laguna Seca

It's tri-motor smackdown

EV startup Lucid has only just announced its debut car, the Air, but is already setting its sights on lap records currently held by Tesla’s Model S tri-motor Plaid Edition.

According to a trackside sleuth who goes by The Kilowatts on Twitter, Lucid was putting its tri-motor powertrain through its paces, and appeared to post a claimed 1 minute 33 seconds lap time at Laguna Seca racetrack in California. Scroll down for trackside footage of the Air in action.

Big disclaimer: it’s not clear how Lucid’s lap time was recorded, it could have been timed using track hardware or hand timed, which means we should consider this time unofficial and take it with a pinch of salt even if it does sound somewhat realistic. We’ve reached out to The Kilowatts for more clarification on how the lap time was captured.

Update: According to The Kilowatts, they recorded the Lucid Air’s time using their own stopwatch.

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Of course, this is an unofficial time, but on a racetrack where lap times are separated by fractions of a second, the Lucid seems to have a comfortable buffer over Tesla’s Model S Plaid Edition, which completed a hot lap of Laguna Seca in 1:36.55 last year.

That said, the Model S Plaid lap time has since been beaten by a tuned Model 3 which knocked about a second of its record posting a 1:35.79. When that happened, the folks over at The Drive considered it a trashing, but the Lucid Air time is a whole three seconds faster than the Model S and at least two seconds quicker than the tuned Model 3, that’s no easy feat.

[Read: 5 things to know when you’re buying your first electric vehicle]

To give those times a little more context, figures from racetrack time tracker site Fastest Laps suggests that the Air would probably be fast enough to make the top 20 fastest production cars around Laguna Seca, but the Model S Plaid would just make the top 50.

The Kilowatts also posted some spy footage of Lucid’s new car to their YouTube channel yesterday, it’s fairly uneventful and obviously there’s no engine noise, just gusts of air… Check it out below:

As Joey Klender at Teslarati points out, Lucid has been quite tight-lipped about its tri-motor setup, and the not-so-subtle leak of a Tesla trouncing lap time at its local racetrack is certainly a warning shot of sorts. Bear in mind, Tesla Battery day is next week, and one of the many things that could be announced is Tesla’s tri-motor Plaid Model S.

It’s not surprising that there might be a bit of rivalry between the two brands. Tesla has largely existed uncontested in the hot electric sedan market, but Lucid’s Air might shake things up. What’s more Lucid is headed up by Peter Rawlinson, one of the key engineers behind the Model S. So naturally, he might want to one-up on his previous exploits.

Lucid has already boasted about how fast its cars are supposedly going to charge, how far they’ll be able to drive on one charge, and a sub 10 second quarter mile.

There’s one key difference between Lucid and Tesla, though. The consumer Lucid Air doesn’t exist yet, and deliveries are due to begin in the coming months.

Tesla, on the other hand, is producing vehicles and its Plaid drivetrain has been in development for so long that we should expect an official announcement and release date any day now. Lucid’s tri-motor setup is a tight guarded secret, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s at least a couple of years away from production.

Either way, I’m sure both companies will see the rivalry as healthy competition, something that will be good for tech and consumers.

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Update September 18, 1448 UTC: Updated disclaimer, The Kilowatts used their own stopwatch to time the Lucid Air’s lap time. 

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