Able to turn a 0 to 60 launch in little more than 4 seconds, the Tesla Model S has changed many folks image of battery cars as little more than electrified stone ponies.
But just how much additional performance might an owner squeeze out of that lithium-ion pack? That’s apparently something that raised a flag at Saleen, the tuner house that has amped up plenty of conventional gasoline-powered vehicles, such as the Ford Mustang, while also producing its own supercar, the S7.
Steve Saleen himself is leading the charge, and he plans to have a tuned version of the Tesla Model S ready before the end of the summer.
Some preliminary sketches give a hint of what he’s got in store. The modified battery car will include changes to both its exterior, as well as what’s hidden under the hood, according to Saleen.
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Among other things, look for a new “aero management” package that he says will improve the already good aerodynamics of the Model S. The modified sedan also will get new carbon ceramic brakes, as well as a carbon rear diffuser and decklid trim. The sketches also suggest the Saleen Tesla Model S will be finished in the tuner’s distinctive Orange County Orange paint.
There’ll be relatively few changes to the interior – though the Saleen logo will be embroidered onto the sedan’s headrests.
What’s not being revealed is what Saleen has in mind on the performance side of the equation. It’s possible, but highly unlikely that the tuner would take the radical step of replacing key Model S components, such as its big electric motor. While improving aero should yield a slight gain in acceleration, it’s quite likely Saleen would focus on tweaking the sedan’s electronic controller technology to boost power – much like performance fans will replace the conventional electric control module with a “chipped” ECU on vehicles like the Mustang.
How much room there is to boost performance remains to be seen, but the good news is that battery propulsion – despite its green image – can deliver some serious acceleration. Electric motors generate their maximum torque the moment they start turning.
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As for price, the current Model S can nudge up into the $110,000 range when fully optioned, including Tesla’s own performance pack. How much further Saleen could go remains to be seen, but considering the sort of wealthy buyers who have made the Model S a staple in such upscale markets as Beverly Hills and Silicon Valley, Saleen is probably right in believing there’s room to push the price tag of the battery-car significantly higher.