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Meet Skye, Designer Ian Callum’s Radical Off-Road EV

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The acclaimed British car designer Ian Callum has produced the first model to bear his own name—and it’s not what you’d expect. Callum’s stellar career includes penning the Aston Martin Vanquish and twenty years as director of design at Jaguar, where he produced some instant modern classics, including the Jaguar F-Pace and I-Pace. But his greatest work is arguably the Aston Martin DB7 of 1994, which one reviewer described as having “the sort of automotive beauty you see once in a generation,” and whose popularity probably saved its then-ailing automaker.

On leaving Jaguar in 2019, Ian founded his eponymous Callum Design consultancy, producing everything from furniture to a modern reboot of his 2001 Vanquish. The Callum Skye, though, has been conceived, designed, and engineered in-house, and named for the stunning isle on the west coast of Scotland, Callum’s homeland.

The Callum Skye, an all-electric off-roader intended to be equally at home on the street.

The Callum Skye, an all-electric off-roader intended to be equally at home on the street.

Callum Design

Instead of the thunderous gentleman’s expresses for which he’s perhaps best known, Callum created the Skye to be a radical, lightweight electric off-roader with a snug 2+2 cabin—“like an old 911”— weighing just 2,530 pounds. That low mass is the result of a steel-and-carbon spaceframe chassis, and means a compact 42 kWh battery provides a 170-mile range, and the electric motors on each axle can launch it to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. Described as a “high-performance multi-terrain electric vehicle,” it’s also intended to be fast, comfortable, and usable for the street as well.

The Callum Skye, an all-electric off-roader designed by Ian Callum.

With a snug 2+2 cabin, the Skye will be built on a steel-and-carbon spaceframe chassis.

Callum Design

“We almost defaulted to doing a sports car, because that’s what we’ve always done,” Callum says, speaking exclusively to Robb Report in advance of the Skye’s unveiling. “But then we looked at the market for Polaris-type recreational off-roaders, especially in America, which is just enormous. We could have just built a buggy that was open to the elements, and given you a mud suit and a helmet. But that didn’t appeal to me at all. It was very important that it was stylish. I didn’t want to go down the militaristic route with khaki paint. And if we built it to our standards, people would also want to use it as a rugged urban vehicle, and in the rain, so it had to be enclosed, at least at first.”

The Callum Skye, an all-electric off-roader intended to be equally at home on the street.

The Skye’s 42 kWh battery will give the vehicle a 170-mile range.

Callum Design

This helps explain the Skye’s distinctive aesthetic. The wide off-road tires are left largely exposed to give it the extreme approach, departure, and breakover angles required of a serious off-roader. But above the arches it’s all sports car, with a taut, extended, sharply raked glasshouse. Put that unique visual signature together with the Skye’s compact dimensions (157 inches in length) and lightweight construction, and there’s nothing else quite like it on the market.

“Some of the people who’ve had early previews of the design have asked me what it is. I ask them if they like it, and if they do, it doesn’t matter what it is. I had the same thing with the I-Pace (Jaguar’s first EV). People would ask if it was a sports car or an SUV or a crossover, and I’d tell them it’s just an I-Pace.”

The Callum Skye, an all-electric off-roader designed by Ian Callum.

Above the arches, the Skye is all sports car, with a taut, extended, sharply raked glasshouse.

Callum Design

More rugged and possibly open derivatives may follow, but the Skye will remain rare. Fewer than 100 examples will be made by hand each year, beginning in 2025, at Callum’s headquarters in Warwick, close to the designer’s former employer Jaguar, and exports stateside are planned.

“We’ll start with the UK and Europe, but we know that the U.S. West Coast and parts of Canada will be our biggest market” says Callum. “The demand there really is massive. We haven’t set a price yet but, at the quality we want, they won’t be cheap. They won’t be a toy, but they will be an indulgence.”

The Callum Skye, an all-electric off-roader designed by Ian Callum.

The unique visual signature, compact dimensions, and lightweight construction should add to the Skye’s exclusive position in the market.

Callum Design

Robb Report is likely to be granted an early prototype test drive of the Skye in the first half of 2024. But if you like the idea of something which accelerates and emits like a Tesla, looks like a supercar from the waist up, and climbs like a mountain goat, you might not want to wait for that verdict before reaching out to Callum, as demand for the Skye is likely to be, well, high.



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