In an announcement posted on Saleen’s own site but not Tesla’s we got news of a partnership between Tesla and Saleen to produce Saleen versions of Tesla’s Model S electric car. The interesting part of it is the fact that the entire press release never quotes Tesla or Elon Musk and is pretty much Steve Saleen talking about his company and his high esteem of the car. It all seems a bizarre, to be honest.
For those unfamiliar with Saleen, they are a company that has a track record of taking stock vehicles from manufacturers and modifying them to a higher spec with some improvements to the powertrain, suspension, interior and overall aesthetics. In addition to that, Saleen slaps their logo on the car and then charges a huge price premium for the car. Considering that the Tesla Model S P85 is already over $100,000 and that is likely going to be the starting point for Saleen, I don’t expect the price of the Saleen Model S ‘Sports Car’ to be any lower.
Many people also know Saleen for their Saleen S7 supercar which got a lot of attention for its unique looks and outrageous price. The crowning feature of this car was its almost completely flat design which made it appear very short and low to the ground. However, the company has had financial troubles and is only recently coming out of a major rebirth with the company’s founder returning to start the company once again.
We actually saw them at the LA Auto show, but they hadn’t unveiled their cars yet when we walked by their booth during the press days. However, some people did stick around to see their 30th anniversary vehicles which were simply Saleen’d Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers. Saleen likes to stick to modding American cars and Tesla is no different, but it will be interesting to see what a Saleen Model S will look like and how much it will go for compared to a regular Tesla Model S. This will be their first attempt in modifying an electric car into a Saleen, which may limit their abilities to upgrade the electric powertrain. All of the current SA-30 vehicles utilize Saleen’s supercharger and performance upgrades, so it will be interesting to see what Saleen can do to get more performance out of the Model S.
Not to forget Shelby, who attempted an electric version of their Aero supercar in 2008, but eventually cancelled the project altogether. Hopefully Saleen’s attempts won’t suffer the same outcome as Shelby’s venture into electric cars. Now, Saleen says that they don’t have a release date for the vehicle yet, nor do they even have renderings yet, but they will be releasing renderings as research and design continue. They say that their engineers will also prepare a spec sheet which will detail the innovations and enhancements that they plan to add to the Saleen Tesla Model S.
Saleen seems to be claiming that they will be doing a design all their own, but I suspect that we won’t see much of a deviation from the original Model S design as has been the case with almost all Saleen vehicles. Plus, I don’t particularly think that Tesla would agree to much modification if they were going to allow Saleen to second party manufacture their vehicles. This won’t really affect Tesla’s sales much as Saleen is a fairly low-volume manufacturer, but it could bring added prestige to the brand if the Saleen Tesla Model S is capable of breaking some records or seeing impressive benchmarks.