Ian Wright is tired of being No. 2.
Electric-car designer Wrightspeed plans to come out with its first commercial car in about 18 months, said Wright, CEO and founder of the company.
And, according to one of his presentation slides at the Dow Jones Environmental Venture Conference, the car -- code-named the SR-71 -- will go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds.
At that acceleration, Wright’s car would equal the Bugatti Veyron, the current reigning champ in the sports-car world.
But Wright is convinced his car will best the Bugatti in acceleration tests.
“We are going to beat the Veyron. We aren’t going to have the same top speed, but we will be faster [in acceleration],” he said.
The Veyron can reach 235 mph. While he didn’t disclose the top speed of the SR-71, named after the ominous-looking Lockheed jet, Wright previously has said electric cars have faster accelerations -- but slower top speeds -- than most gasoline-powered cars.
Wright added that his car will cost a lot less than the Veyron. That shouldn’t be hard, considering the Veyron sells for around $1.4 million.
Wright became a Silicon Valley celebrity a few years ago with an electric car, the X1, which can hit 60 mph in just under three seconds. That mark bested every sports car in the world but the Bugatti.
On the track, Wright has beaten several Ferraris and Lamborghinis with the X1.
But the X1 is a prototype and Wright has said he does not plan to bring the car to market. (The cockpit is open to the elements on the X1, for instance, which makes it a tough sell in the United States.) However, it is street-legal and he drives it himself (see CNET articles here and here).
Wright was an early employee at Tesla Motors, but split away early on to concentrate on so-called supercars, those ultra-expensive sports cars few of us own. Although they make up a rarefied market, supercars account for around $1 billion in revenue worldwide, he said.
The first SR-71s likely will only be licensed to drive on special tracks, he said, adding that he expects a fully street-legal version will take three years to bring to market.
Wright did not show a rendering of how the SR-71 will look, instead admitting that he had superimposed a picture of another manufacturer’s car onto his slides.
But while Tesla, which started shipping its Roadster earlier this year, wants to move into electric and hybrid sedans and economy cars, Wrightspeed – which is largely self-funded -- doesn’t plan to mass-produce cars.
Still, bringing cars to the market at all would be a milestone. In 2006, Wright had hoped to bring out his first car by late 2008. The company also is developing hybrid drivetrains for delivery trucks, which Wright claims could substantially cut fuel consumption.
So why doesn’t Ferrari or Porsche take him on with an electric car of their own?
Traditional European manufacturers are in love with — and are experts at making – traditional high-performance engines, he said. Besides, Wright added, those companies figure that if customers can afford a car that costs at least $100,000, they can afford gas.
But he is betting that enough rich joy-riders will prefer a speedy electric car to make up a worthwhile market for Wrightspeed.