An adorable retro-inspired electric vehicle got a lot of attention a few weeks ago. The Alpha Motor Ace, an electric coupe with an aesthetic that can only be described as mid-century modern European, seemed to capture the full potential of EVs to break out of contemporary car styling and explore unusual and interesting forms. With fewer constraints from packaging hardpoints, EVs—and in particular, skateboard-chassis ones—are ripe for this sort of thing. The Ace’s cartoonish (in a good way) proportions communicate fun in a way no Nissan Leaf can. Carrying that to its next logical extreme, there’s the Jax, an off-road inspired variant (that still only exists in digital form), and a sleeker Ace Performance Edition.
It must be said that we were hoping the next time we wrote about Ace that we’d be able to show you photos or video of the physical vehicle. As adorable as the Ace and its derivatives are, it’s easier to take an unknown company more seriously when they have hardware to show off. But whatever happens with Alpha Motor—whether it succeeds and starts putting completed Aces in customers’ hands, or fades away like so many startups do—it’s the aesthetic that’s important—one that will hopefully inspire other companies to take risks.
The Jax appears at a good time for juiced-up off-road cars. Consider the Porsche 911 Safari trend or the fact that in order to survive right now small hatchbacks need to fully embrace the crossover SUV vibe—just look at the new Bolt EUV. But unlike the Bolt EUV’s cold, sterile corporate visage, the Jax looks like a Lada Niva retrofitted with a cold fusion reactor from Cyberpunk 2077. Knobbly tires, phone-dial wheels with what appear to be beadlocks, tube bumpers, and rock sliders complete the appearance of something that could scramble all over a rally course in exuberant fashion. Mechanical changes include a dual-motor all-wheel-drive option—theoretically, of course.
The Ace Performance Edition takes this same presumed hardware and gives it an AWD performance bent, much in the way the quickest Tesla variants get the burliest dual-motor options. Alpha claims a 4.6-second 0-60-mph time, but take that with a grain of 3D-rendered salt. The candy apple red metallic is a nice touch, but it’s the patterned inset auxiliary lights in the very retro-performance bumper, above the sweet splitter, that really sets the car off. Lest we forget about the Ace’s most notable touch, its massive fender flares, which get a little contrasting extension on the Performance Edition.
On looks alone, Alpha has a promising thing going. Whether it can translate the mood into a salable, compelling product is anybody’s guess at this point.