(All photos: Local Motors)
(All photos: Local Motors)
Wareham-based Local Motors, the start-up Massachusetts automaker behind the Rally Fighter dune racer, has revealed an all-electric hatchback concept that will be begin production in San Francisco within the next two to three years, the company said today.
The four-seat Ethylik, penned by 21-year-old French design student Ugo Spagnolo, is a hyper-aggressive styling exercise on the European hot hatch theme, to which the Ford Focus RS and mid-engined Renault Clio V-6 have become worthy legends.
Specifications are, at this point, speculations. Will there be an electric motor at every wheel to match the car's wild looks, like on the insane Mini QED concept? Or a tamer lithium-ion pack supported by a gas engine, like the Chevrolet Volt?
"We haven't set our hearts on one yet," said lead engineer Mike Pisani, noting that "battery technology could change dramatically" by the time the Ethylik debuts.
We do know that Local Motors wants fancy doors in the gullwing, suicide, or butterfly tradition to squeeze in small spaces and give San Francisco bicyclists less of a scare when zipping by parked cars.
Like the Rally Fighter, Local Motors wants its customers to come into the shop, get their hands dirty, and actually help build the Ethylik from scratch. For now, the car is but a drawing with no planned production facility, but Local Motors says it wants to position the Ethylik below the Rally Fighter's $50,000 price and is seeking an unspecified amount of federal loans directed to makers of electric vehicles.
So far, only 22 people — mostly from the Southwest and West Coast — have plunked down $99 deposits for the Rally Fighter since July. Spokeswoman Ariel Ferreira said that prototype testing for the Rally Fighter would begin next spring, with delivery by summer 2010.
The company's Wareham facility isn't large enough for series production, Ferreira said, and instead the car will be made in Phoenix, a prime desert spot to better target the Rally Fighter's Baja-savvy customers.
The "big sales push" for the Rally Fighter, Ferreira said, will be at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas on November 3. Pisani said the company is considering buying the Fighter's long-travel shocks from Fox Racing Shox, which Ford picked to supply parts for its limited-production Raptor pickup.
A finished Rally Fighter prototype, complete with fiberglass body panels and a carbon fiber composite underbody, will show up at SEMA.
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