Saleen hasn’t had standalone car in its lineup since the S7 supercar went out of production in 2009.
Soon the company will have a new sports car on sale, only this time around it will be built at a plant in China, fulfilling a long-held dream of Saleen founder Steve Saleen to introduce Chinese-built cars into the United States.
The new sports car is a mid-engine model called the Saleen S1, and it made its debut in China on November 8. A local appearance will take place later this month at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The S1 wasn’t developed from scratch. Saleen bought the rights to its platform from Germany’s Artega, which used it in the now-discontinued GT sports car. The origin of the platform is actually Lotus, which introduced it in the Evora.
For its S1, Saleen has selected Ford’s 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 found in the Focus RS and Mustang EcoBoost. Saleen has tuned the engine so that it delivers a stout 450 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque, enough for a top speed of 180 mph in the S1. An electric version of the car is also planned.
Production will be handled by the joint venture company Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology Co. Jiangsu Saleen is investing big to turn itself into a mainstream brand offering much more than just sports cars. The JV is investing $2.68 billion to establish a plant in Rugao, in China’s Jiangsu province. The plant will be completed in mid-2018 and have the capacity for 150,000 cars per annum.
Speaking with China Daily, Charles Wang, chairman and CEO of Jiangsu Saleen, explained that he wants to create a company like Porsche, which churns out niche sports cars as well as high-volume luxury cars. But to achieve such status, they’ll have to do much more than recycle decade-old platforms.
We’ll have more details on the Saleen S1 following its debut at the L.A. Auto Show. The doors open on November 29 and you can follow our complete coverage via our dedicated hub.