Saleen Readies China-Focused Sports Car

November 14, 2017 at 10:44 AM

Saleen Automotive Inc.is developing a high-powered sports car to launch in China next year.

The new S1 coupe reportedly is based on German niche builder Artega Automobil GmbH’s discontinued Artega GT sports car, which was derived from the Lotus Evora platform. Styling of the Saleen S1 is reminiscent of the Porsche 718 Cayman.

The S1 will be powered by Ford Motor Co.’s 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine used in Ford’s Focus RS and Mustang EcoBoost models. Saleen says it has tuned to the engine to generate 450 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque, enough to give the S1 an estimated top speed of 180 mph.

Saleen will produce the S1 at a plant being constructed near Shanghai through its Chinese manufacturing joint venture, Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology Co. Due to open next summer, the 17.8 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) facility will have the capacity to make 150,000 S1 and other unspecified models, Jiangsu Saleen CEO Charles Wang tells China Daily.

Wang says the company also is planning an electric version of the S1. But he notes the company may need to partner with another Chinese company to obtain an EV license in China.

Saleen aims to eventually sell a range of models similar in scope to Porsche AG’s lineup, Wang says. He adds that the initial sales focus of the S1 will be in China, with the U.S. and other markets to be added later. An innovative distribution network also is planned that will be different from both traditional dealerships and Tesla Inc.’s direct sales model, according to Wang.

Formed by racecar driver Steve Saleen in 1983, Saleen has endured several owners and financial problems. In recent years the company has produced specialty vehicles based on the Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Tesla Model S. Saleen’s last standalone model was the mid-engine S7, which was discontinued in 2009.

Jiangsu Saleen revealed the S1 earlier this month in China. The car will be publicly unveiled later this month at the Los Angeles auto show.