Called 4sixteen, Saleen Automotive Inc. debuted the company's take on the Model S, Tesla Motor's flagship sedan, Saturday at the Concours d'Elegance concept lawn.
The unveiling in Pebble Beach marked Saleen's first venture into electric cars, reflecting CEO Steve Saleen's belief that vehicles running on electricity is not a fad. The Tesla Model S is capable of producing 416hp from its 85kWh battery pack and the 4sixteen is rated to have the same capacity but with different drive ratios for more rapid acceleration.
Saleen knows how to take vehicles further because the company designs, develops and produces high-performance cars built using base chassis from Chevrolet Camaros, Ford Mustangs and Dodge Challengers, as well as a host of other exotic supercars.
Aside from faster acceleration, Saleen also designed the 4sixteen to incorporate aerodynamic updates, a rear spoiler, a new fascia, sport differential, suspension, carbon ceramic brakes and 22-inch wheels. Inside, sports seats are added as well as a new center console.
The 4sixteen will appeal "very much to the person that wants to have luxury but also have a performance sedan that goes with their lifestyle, something they can have fun with and be able to enjoy the handling and performance while at the same time feel they are contributing to the green effort," said Saleen.
"Electric drivetrains are unique in that they can generate an incredible amount of torque at zero RPM. Our challenge was really to find methods to manage the energy that is generated by the electric motor and rotor assembly. With the [4sixteen] we have successfully found a comprehensive solution to increase performance and harness power in an efficient manner," said Sven Etzelsberger, vice president of advanced engineering at Saleen.
While the Tesla Motors was not involved in the development of the 4sixteen, Saleen recognizes the work that Elon Musk's company did in laying down the foundations for electric cars with the Model S. "Tesla, with what they've done with this car, it's a game-changing vehicle. It allows for the creativity that we offer, to target specific audiences that might want a little bit more performance," explains Saleen in an interview.
Saleen started taking orders for the 4sixteen when the vehicle was unveiled in Pebble Beach. It starts at $152,000 and go up to below $200,000 with options. The Tesla Model S, on the other hand, starts at $71,000, going beyond $100,000 with options.