SEMA 2015: Saleen GTX Electric Car

saleen-tesla-model-s-frontHow do you tune an electric car? The American car manufacturer Saleen has found a way. Based in Corona, California, Saleen is most famous for their performance-upgraded Mustangs and Camaros. The decision to give the “Saleen treatment” to an all-electric car is certainly an interesting one.

The company starts with a Tesla Model S sedan and adds custom front and rear bumpers, which will set you apart from the thousands of other Teslas on the road. It’s not just aesthetics, the larger front grille allows for more airflow to help the car’s cooling system. There’s also an aero hood, side skirts, rear diffuser, and a high-downforce rear spoiler.

Whereas the OEM Tesla Model S has seating for 5 adults, plus an optional 3rd row seat for kids, the Saleen GTX uses a 2+2 layout. The interior has also been upgraded with premium leather and suede materials. Continue reading

Jet Industries Electravan 600

jet-electravan-600-profileElectric cars such as the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf are all the rage these days. These sexy cars offer zero emissions, good fuel economy, and near-silent operation. But there was a time not long ago when electric vehicles were not sexy or cool.

Early electric vehicles were converted from gasoline-powered vehicles using primitive chargers and batteries. They were a novelty item, mostly reserved for hippies and fringe-thinkers. They lacked the mass-market appeal of today’s sophisticated alt-fuel vehicles. Let’s revisit those times for a moment to take a look at once such vehicle: the Electravan.

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1965 Mustang ‘Sparkey’ Electric Conversion

There’s no doubt that the roads of the future will include many types of automobiles including gas, diesel, hybrid, electric, and alternate fuel vehicles. But I have to question the wisdom of bringing an electric-powered muscle car to SEMA. Most of the guys walking the show floor still haven’t embraced automatic transmissions or EFI – and I think that getting them to ditch gasoline altogether is going to be a very hard sell.

Still, I’ve gotta hand it to Larry Gareffa for getting his car out there. I saw his 1965 Mustang “Sparkey” on display at the Covercraft booth at SEMA 2013.

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2012 Fisker Karma EcoSport EVer

“Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will still be among the stars.” – Les Brown

At the time of this writing, California-based Fisker Automotive is in bad shape and if they don’t get a miracle, they are going to go under.

In case you haven’t been following the Fisker saga, let me fill you in. Fisker Automotive was founded in 2007 by Henrik Fisker, a Danish-born designer who also penned the Aston Martin DB9, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and the BMW Z8. The new company was to launch a luxury plug-in hybrid car in 2009. After multiple setbacks and delays, customers¬† finally began taking deliveries of the Karma sedan in late 2011. Continue reading

Spotted: 2012 Tesla Model S

What is the fastest American sedan you can buy today?

You might be surprised to learn that it’s not the twin-turbo Lincoln MK-S, the Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee, or even the mighty Cadillac CTS-V. The fastest American-made sedan is none other than the Tesla Model S – and it shuts these other cars down without using a drop of gasoline.

Just how quick is this car? Take a look at these figures:

2012 Tesla Model S P85
0-60: 3.9 seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.5 @ 110.9 mph1

2013 Lincoln MK-S EcoBoost Twin Turbo AWD
0-60: 5.2 seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.9 @ 100.8 mph2

2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee
0-60: 4.4 seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.8 @ 112.6 mph3

2009 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan
0-60: 4.3 seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.6 @ 114.6 mph4

With numbers like these, you can understand why I was ecstatic to see a Model S Signature in real life the other day at the Scottsdale Pavilions car show.

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1908 Baker Electric Car

As gas prices continue to fluctuate, many drivers are seeking more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly vehicles. The Nissan Leaf is unique among modern alt-fuel vehicles because it is a purely battery-powered vehicle that does not include a gas engine at all – unlike its competitors from Toyota and Chevrolet.

A pure electric-powered car may seem like a novel approach to getting better fuel economy, however the idea is anything but new. Continue reading

Zap Xebra 3 Wheel Electric Vehicle

Because of its black and white stripe pattern, the zebra is one of nature’s most recognizable animals. Along those same lines, the Zap Xebra is a very recognizable car. Can you guess why?

No, it’s not an optical illusion. This is a 3-wheeled passenger car with the single wheel in front. But wait, it gets better! The Zap Xebra is an all-electric car manufactured in China! You can imagine my complete and utter surprise when I spotted this one silently humming around in Glendale, Arizona.

With a price of just $12,000 brand new, Zap had the market cornered on affordability (and unusual looks). However, at that price point there must have been some compromises in quality. According to several websites I found, some of the cars were made of fiberglass while others were made of steel. None of them ever came with airbags.

The range is an estimated 40 miles at 40 mph, so it can’t go on the highway. The driver must have been pretty close to home at the time I spotted him.

These cars were only produced from 2006 to 2009. I wasn’t able to get a photo of the front, but it has this crazy third headlight in the center that gives the car a very “mouse-like” appearance. Whether you like it or hate it, this is definitely not a car you see every day!