The glut of EV startups is allowing car designers to do some very exciting work. While mainstream automakers churn out endless crossovers with the same predictable truck-inspired styling, Alpha Motors' idea of a "crossover" looks more like a vintage rally car than a modern EV.

Unveiled earlier this month, the Alpha Motors Jax is the latest in a line of small retro-cute electric cars. Most of these cars won't be available in the United States, but Alpha Motors is an American company (it's based in Irvine, California), so perhaps the Jax is one retro EV we won't miss out on. If Alpha Motors can get it into production, that is.

Short for "junior all-terrain crossover," the Jax shares a basic platform and styling with Alpha Motors' Ace coupe. Alterations include a rugged-looking roof rack, front and rear push bars, and chunky tires. While the Ace is a proper two-door coupe, the Jax also appears to have a set of rear half doors—not unlike the early 2000s Mazda RX-8 sports car.

The Jax will be offered with single-motor front-wheel drive or dual-motor all-wheel drive, and can do 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, according to Alpha Motors. A 75-kilowatt-hour battery pack will afford 250 miles of range, the company said. Alpha Motors also quotes 62.5 cubic feet of "combined storage" space (the car does have a frunk), and a 1,850-pound towing capacity.

Alpha Motors Jax

Alpha Motors Jax


In contrast to the retro exterior, the four-seat interior borrows the minimalist look of the Tesla Model 3, with a large central touchscreen and digital instrument cluster on an otherwise-bare dashboard. You won't see fabric door pulls in a Tesla, however.

Alpha Motors provides hope that the U.S. will finally get a retro electric city car after missing out on the Honda E and the latest Fiat 500e. The Renault 5 is also expected to return as an electric car, but it's a long shot for the U.S.

However, Alpha Motors is still just a startup that hasn't built a single car, so the Jax is far from a sure thing.

Alpha Motors is currently taking reservations for the Jax, which will start at around $38,000, but has discussed a production timeline. That uncertainty is typical of the many EV startups looking to challenge established automakers.