Electric Evolution: Tesla’s Model S Joins Steve Saleen’s Paddock

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At the end of October last year, we covered a piece based on an interview we conducted with Steve Saleen, a legendary name in after-market tuning, who built his reputation on high-performance Ford (NYSE:F) Mustangs and, more recently, Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Camaros and Dodge Challengers.

“We’re working on an electric car,” Saleen said at at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, adding “I’ll tell you more about it later.” Well, later has arrived — on Thursday morning, Saleen revealed via a press release that his company and its engineers were in fact working on an electric car — but not a custom build like the previous S7 or the Raptor concept. Saleen and its engineers are working on their own version of a Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S.

“Tesla has demonstrated that the opportunity for companies, like ourselves, in the electric segment certainly exists,” Saleen said back in October, “and I think we have a unique skill set based on our knowledge of the automotive industry, our ability to convert existing chassis, as well as to create ground-up new ones, that could serve us very well as this new industry emerges.”

Let’s let that sink in a little bit. A Model S from Steve Saleen, who built his name on growling V8s and high-octane fuel. We’re certainly intrigued. He’s staying pretty mute on the subject, currently — no details surrounding the car were introduced through the press release, though it promised some renderings as the research and development stages progress.

Tesla Model S

The press release was also posted up on Tesla’s community website, indicating that the fans of the upstart electric vehicle maker are also gratuitously excited about the news. We look forward to hearing from Tesla itself about the new relationship.

“Tesla’s values are not a departure from our core values of elite power, style, and performance. I have admired their craftsmanship,” Saleen said in the release. “And now with our upcoming entry into the electric car market with a revolutionary design all our own, we share a desire to also produce vehicles that are not dependent on fossil fuels and which accomplish this fuel independence with a tremendous assemblage of grace and technology.”

“Saleen Automotive is intent on continually expanding its presence in the automotive market,” Saleen continued. “We have already announced or produced incredible vehicles including Camaros, Challengers, and of course Mustangs, adding style and performance to each of those legendary lines. Now, we turn our attention to the vehicle that has defined the sports car in the rapidly growing electric car sector.”

A timeline for the car — notably, the release date — has yet to materialize. However, we would expect that they would take their time with it, considering that, “the Saleen Tesla design will be Saleen’s first effort in enhancing an existing electric vehicle.” In other words, not a project that should be rushed.

With its new project, Saleen is conceivably introducing a new trend of automotive engineering; after-market houses, including in-house entities like Mercedes’ AMG, BMW’s M Division, and so on have created an enormous market for performance cars, but there has yet to be an equivalent for electric vehicles, though that seems to be changing. ”I fully intend to produce one of the most compelling Tesla’s to ever hit the roadway,” Saleen concluded. We don’t doubt it, either.

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