Saleen breaks into electric high-performance market with the GTX

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The company that brought you the Saleen Mustang has come out with a new electric sports car. (KABC)

These days, it seems you can't go far in Southern California without seeing an electric Tesla Model S. And you really can't miss the new special high-performance version called the Saleen GTX.

"What we've done is we've made it go a little faster, brake a little better and look a little snazzier," said Steve Saleen, founder of Saleen Automotive, Inc.

If the name Saleen sounds familiar, it's because it's been attached to muscle cars for many years, starting with the Mustang in the mid-1980s. The company's namesake founder saw potential in the battery-powered Tesla.

"This actually is the future, and the sooner I think we grab hold of it and look at the electric vehicles on how they will develop from here on out, we want to be part of that," said Saleen.

For about $57,000 above the price of any new Model S (those start at $75,000), the GTX gets you a track-tuned suspension, better brakes, and different gearing for quicker acceleration.

Saleen GTX interior

The interior gets a makeover too, with bolstered sport seats. On the outside, custom body pieces and huge wheels set the exterior off as well.

One thing that's a hallmark of performance cars is the sounds they make. Typically, mufflers are changed out to make an engine sound more aggressive.

Since an electric car like the Tesla has no engine and no mufflers, Saleen came up with a way to produce an aggressive sound. They use special transmission gears, which give the car a distinctive howl.

The sound is faintly similar to the original TV Batmobile when the superhero's signature car rolled out of the Batcave. Though obviously, that sound was dubbed in during post-production. The actual Batmobile had a fairly conventional Ford V8.

This all adds up to a Tesla that gets noticed, particularly among others parked at places like the dedicated Tesla Supercharger stations. The Tesla forums are also buzzing about the car.

If you prefer a Saleen vehicle that burns gasoline, don't worry.

"We just finished debuting our new version of the Mustang with 730 horsepower, so we haven't given up on that side of the business," noted Saleen.

But if you see a Model S that looks a little different roaming the streets, you might want to check it out a little more closely. After all, it could be a look at the future of high-performance cars.
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