SSC North America founder and CEO Jerod Shelby is well aware that the automotive industry is moving at a kneejerk pace towards battery electric vehicles. Perhaps quicker than things were fully thought through. Regardless, the performance benefits of electrification are undeniable at this point. But when it comes to the SSC Tuatara, the drama expected of a $1.9 million hypercar is just as important.
“If you asked me 10 years ago I would have pushed away,” said Shelby in an interview with MC&T. “I know the industry is heading in that direction but there’s always going to be the customer that wants that raw, savage experience of the high performance hypercars.”
Before the SSC Tuatara, the Washington-based automaker was looked at offering an all-electric version of the Ultimate Aero, according to reports. The Ultimate Aero was SSC’s first hypercar, and officially leapfrogged the Bugatti Veryon as the fastest production car in the world back in 2007.
“I do think that if the right opportunity came along, and we’ve been contacted by a few companies where we could keep some form of combustion engine on board and have electric motors – I would be interested in that,” Shelby said. “Because I do think it may allow us that next level of performance where we could take our engineering and functional art and throw electric motors in some form. We’re not quite there yet, I want to continue improve this current package, and then it’s something we’re going to look at.”
Electrification wasn’t the only thing on the table for the SSC Tuatara. AWD was passed up, also.
“We explored AWD for Tuatara. We decided against it,” Shelby told us. “It was more the driving experience. I spent enough time in the prototype stages either talking to experienced racing drivers or prospective customers, and getting them in our prototypes. And everybody really enjoyed that RWD sensation when you’ve got enough horsepower where you can rely on traction control or traction control is your right foot… we decided against the added rotating mass of all wheel drive. We know it hurts us in 0-60 and quarter mile, but that’s where we gave up a little because of the experiences (AWD) produces.”
In the future, should the company decide to do so, the electrification and AWD would likely work in tandem with a super high output engine, such as the 5.9L flat plane crank twin-turbo V8 currently found in the SSC Tuatara. Output ranges from 1,350 hp on pump gas, or 1,750 hp on E85.
“I would say would say if we produce an AWD car it’s because of electric motors running the front wheels,” Shelby told us.
The SSC Tuatara hypercar is mathematically capable of 345 miles per hour. Achieving such tremendous speeds in a production car remains unachieved, but Shelby believes, at minimum, that the Tuatara can hit 300 mph in just 2.3 miles. It would far and away be the fastest production car in the world, widening its gap from the Koenigsegg Agera. The Bugatti Chiron Super Sport has already broken the 300 mph barrier, but the model that did so is not available for purchase.
Should the SSC Tuatara high speed runs prove successful, the hypercar will then head to the Nürburgring for a hot lap. And possibly another record, too. Following that, look for a more affordable, ‘little brother’ to the Tuatara a few years later.