These days, one of the automotive industry's fiercest battles isn't over horsepower or top speed — it's over sound systems. A new car of high esteem simply cannot launch without a premium name affixed to the speaker (unless it's Tesla).
The trend has been escalating lately, with Jeep partnering with McIntosh on its first production vehicles in decades, the all-new Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer / Grand Wagoneer. Now, Lucid Motors has announced its upcoming Air electric car will be the first car equipped with Dolby Atmos technology with its 21-speaker "Surreal Sound" system.
If you've set up home speakers lately, you've likely heard of Dolby Atmos. It's the premier surround sound technology out there, found in everything from soundbars to movie theaters. Simply put, Dolby Atmos systems fire sound vertically as well as horizontally outward to provide a richer, more immersive sound. It also allows moviemakers more precise sound targeting, making it seem as though sounds are coming from more distinct parts of a theater.
According to Lucid Motors, the Surreal system won't just be for "connecting with music at its fullest creative potential" or discerning every rustle of paper during your favorite true-crime podcast. It will also serve a safety function: the Lucid Air will be able to project audio to highlight specific blind spots or target seat belt alerts at the offending unbelted passenger.
Is a Dolby Atmos surround sound system excessive for an automobile? Absolutely. But if you've got your $7,500 deposit down on a $170,000, 1,080-horsepower Air Dream Edition that can go 500-plus miles on a single charge and accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds, it's the precise level of excess you're expecting.