TopSpeed Exclusive: Saleen Going Electric and a Look at what Fuels Steve Saleen
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to Steve Saleen, former racecar driver and the proud owner of Saleen, Inc, following a court battle to prove his rights to the once-troubled performance-car manufacturer. We discussed many things in our 30-minute conversation, and I learned tons about what brought him back to the company that he brought to greatness in the 1980s and 1990s, what we can expect in the near future and what we can look forward to as time goes on.
We asked Mr. Saleen what brought him back to the company that he founded decades ago, after stepping away in the 2000s. According to Steve, his return to the company was both to protect his namesake and to show Saleen fans that he hasn’t lost the passion to manufacture performance cars and that Saleen is still a player in the performance-car realm. He elaborated that his return to Saleen required a legal battle to prove that he indeed still had the right to the name.
The biggest news is the all-new supercar that Saleen is working on, and I asked him to give us any information he could regarding the pace of the project and where it stands. Unfortunately, I was met with "We are indeed working on the next American supercar and hopefully it is not too far out, but I cannot divulge more information at this time."
Something that always weighs on the mind of many Saleen fans is how far in advance and how much "inside" information Saleen receives to help it in its engineering process. Steve let us know that Saleen’s strong relationship with Ford and other manufacturers does afford it some extra information on models and upcoming projects to help with building Saleen vehicles.
In terms of the future, Steve assured us that Saleen is not going to ramp up slowly, as the economy is primed for fast growth, so the company will take full advantage of this to grow the "new" Saleen as fast as the economy will allow. Part of this growth, according to Mr. Saleen, will be in the electric car realm. He told me "You shouldn’t be surprised to see us doing something in the electric vehicle segment, as well." The company views the EV shift as "less of a fad and more of a long-term trend," according to Steve.
In closing Mr. Saleen left us with this "After 30 years, I have not lost the drive or passion for doing cars, and all of this is possible because of the tremendous we have from our customers and fans around the world."