By on March 19, 2013

Until the modern day revival of electric vehicles like the Teslas, Nissan’s Leaf or the Chevy Volt, the best selling electric car ever was the Detroit Electric, produced by the Anderson Carriage company from 1907 to 1939. They sold thousands of them (1914 was the high water mark with ~4,500 produced). Among the people who drove Detroit Electrics were electricity pioneers Thomas Edison and Charles Steinmetz and the wives of automotive industrialists  Henry Ford and Henry Joy (he ran Packard). Interestingly, John D. Rockefeller, who made his enormous fortune from petroleum products like gasoline, owned a pair of Detroit Electric Model 46 Roadsters. Now, not only has the electric car industry been revived, but also the Detroit Electric company, which says it will start producing battery electric sports cars in a Michigan facility by the end of this summer. Following Tesla’s example, their first car will be based on a Lotus, in this case an Exige coupe, and the company promises two other “high performance” models in 2014.

Teaser of the Lotus Exige based Detroit Electric sports car

Using a Lotus glider as the basis of an EV, as mentioned, isn’t a particularly original idea. Besides the Tesla Roadster if you remember, before their bankruptcy, Chrysler showed a raft of electric powered concept cars including the Circuit EV based on the Elise derived Europa. With aluminum superstructures and composite bodies, Lotus cars are light enough to still have good performance after being fitted with heavy electric battery packs. The choice of the Exige is an interesting one since that car is not sold in the United States – apparently because of a regulatory issue with its airbags. Perhaps Detroit Electric’s chairman and CEO, Albert Lam, who used to run Lotus, will use his connections with the British firm to get the gliders federalized.

John D. Rockefeller had two Detroit Electric Model 46 Roadsters, like this one for sale at RM’s 2012 St. John’s auction

In addition to announcing that Detroit Electric is going to be more than just a placeholding website that’s been around since Lam acquired the rights to the brand and logo in 2008, the company has signed a lease for its headquarters to be located in Detroit’s historic and automotively connected Fisher Building. The new car will have a press launch in Detroit early next month, followed by a global reveal at the Shanghai auto show later in April. In addition to signing the lease on their HQ, Detroit Electric has selected what they call a “dedicated production facility” in Michigan that will have an annual capacity of 2,500 cars a year. Since they’re working with the quasi-governmental Michigan Economic Development Corporation, most likely it will be a facility that has formerly been used to build relatively short production runs of specialty cars. My WAG would be either the facility in Troy where Saleen did final assembly of the Ford GTs, or the former GM Lansing Craft Centre that built the Chevy SSR. Between the offices in Detroit and the production plant, Detroit Electric hopes to create 180 new jobs in Michigan over the next year.

Detroit Electric logo on the aluminum running board of Helen Newberry Joy’s 1914 Detroit Electric. Note the broken shoe scraper.

Apparently that production facility will not be owned by Detroit Electric. Before working at Lotus, Lam’s resume includes stints in Asia with Apple and Sun Microsystems, and Detroit Electric will be following an “asset light” business model, focusing on R&D and marketing and jobbing out production.

When the new Detroit Electric sports car is first revealed next month we’ll have coverage of the event. Press release here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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49 Comments on “Revived Detroit Electric Brand to Open HQ in Detroit and Sell Electrified Exiges...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    So what I’m seeing…

    Starting in an economically ruined city that has so many taxes and corruption that its about to be needing a bailout

    Building an electric sports car while other companies are going bankrupt doing the same with billions in federal subsidies

    Have a maximum capacity of 2.5k cars

    And their building an sports car, what a novel idea

    Seriously I guess we will keep seeing this as long as these people are having their pockets lined with taxpayer money

    But why does it have to be another sports car the original “new” idea was being green, getting off foreign oil, w/e why not build a “sensible” high mpg commuter car at a competitive price?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Agreed on all points, although I’m cautiously optimistic about Tesla’s financial future.

      It makes no sense to try and ‘out Tesla’ Tesla, who is now a grizzled veteran by comparison.

      A crucial element will be the sourcing of their battery. Tesla’s low-risk approach using the 18650 cell got them started without having to develop a custom battery.

      And D-E’s timetable is… aggressive.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I think we’ve seen this play before:

      Lotsa public money to “bring jobs.”

      Silicon Valley-style business model (outsource everything but the design).

      Enter the toy market as proof of concept, because buyers of toys have vastly different expectations than buyers of . . . um . . . transportation. (A sports car is a toy; I know; I own one.)

      And my firm’s Internet nanny (“websense”) blocks access to the company’s website, claiming it’s “web and e-mail spam” security risk.

      • 0 avatar

        I haven’t seen any report of public money involved. I believe that the involvement of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has to do with site location, not government funding. Under Jenny Granholm? For sure. Under Republican Dan Snyder? I doubt it. Better to spend money on our roads.

    • 0 avatar

      Does anyone really want to buy a car with the name “Detroit” in it? Isn’t the city a pretty badly damaged brand?

      So why won’t they produce an economy car?

      Because Nissan tried that with the Leaf, and isn’t doing too great, and Mitsubishi tried that with their electric car with the unspellable name, and it’s not doing too great either. The Leaf, from what I understand, is actually quite a good product, too.

      On the other hand, Tesla started with the Roadster, and I would say it’s by far the most successful EV maker, despite being much more expensive.

      I have said, repeatedly, that the natural customers for electric vehicles are high tech early adopters who want the latest and greatest in technology, not econobox customers. Most of them would prefer an elite brand and a luxury feel. They are also willing to pay a lot more.

      So a roadster that’s a copy of a Lotus model might not be so bad. It’s the only way an independent EV maker has succeeded.

      And that, to me, is the problem with this scheme – I don’t think the discerning customers who pay the price of a half-decent house for this sort of vehicle are going to go for a blatant copycat. Someone who wants an electric Lotus will buy a Tesla.

      Especially since Tesla is building a new Roadster, and if it’s done from scratch this time, it’s likely to be one incredible car.

      D

      PS This is a Exige. I have to say the appearance doesn’t seem at all differentiated from the Elise. http://jalopnik.com/5116409/lotus-exige-s-240-first-drive

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Why didn’t Tesla build an economy car? Because building a low priced car requires economies of scale, which is one thing that a startup won’t have.

        Think of it this way: if I were to go out and build a Corolla/Civic class vehicle, the first one would cost nearly a billion dollars, because I have to design the car, build the factory, and start up the supply chain. Nobody is going to pay a billion dollars for a Corolla, so I have to sell that one at a big loss. Fortunately, though, the subsequent cars only cost a few thousand dollars to build, so I can earn that billion dollars back a few thousand dollars at a time, if the car sells well enough.

        But nobody who has a billion dollars, even Elon Musk, is going to bet a billion dollars on a new technology, and a new brand.

        So, you have to start with a low-volume car. And, without the economies of scale, it’s going to cost 2-4x what a Corolla costs, even if it is actually a Corolla.

        So, what kind of low-volume cars can you charge $100k for? Super sports cars. And, while they aren’t a complete business on their own,you might be able to break even and prove that the company is a viable bet for that billion dollars.

        Either that, or you can be Nissan and be an existing car company that has a billion dollars and try it. If the company needs a hail mary play to gain enough market share to stay in business, it may be worth the risk. It certainly was has been the only thing for that’s gotten me to seriously think about buying a new Nissan!

  • avatar
    rolosrevenge

    These guys seem about 5 years too late in the game. So will it match the Tesla Roadster specs? If it does it’s old news. If it can’t it’s pretty pathetic. Can the match/beat the Roadster performance and a lower price, if not, I doubt they’ll sell many. Tesla sold like 2600 Roadsters total, worldwide, over 4 years. Why do these guys think that selling essentially the same thing will somehow result in higher sales volume?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Awhile ago there was a story about the old chargers used to charge these early electric cars. It was pretty wild seeing mercury being heated to a vapor to create the rectifier needed to make DC. Two things came to mind. One, some pretty smart minds created all this early stuff. Two, an enormous amount of toxic materials must have been dumped all over the place. The “good old days” weren’t really so good if you think about it. I guess the lake that caught fire in Ohio brought this fact to the limelight.

    • 0 avatar

      The first modern report of a fire on the Cuyahoga River that flows through Cleveland was in 1868. I can’t find a source right now, but I recall reading that Native Americans reported it burning before European settlement, thought the infamous 1969 fire was undoubtedly partially fueled by an oil slick. It’s a slow moving river, debris accumulates and can catch fire. The Cuyahoga may just naturally be prone to burning. There are, after all, naturally occurring situations, like water that has a naturally high level of methane, which is why they can make anti-fracking propaganda that shows water that burns.

      Nature is not always benign.

      • 0 avatar
        Adamatari

        Ronnie, your comment is ignorant and shows a desire to whitewash industrial pollution.

        I decided to check your claim, and found out that Cleveland was a major center for the beginnings of the oil indsutry in the 19th century. The paper I found (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=333140) that mentions the history of fires on the Cuyahoga has this to say:

        “Before the end of the Civil War there were twenty refineries in the Cleveland area, including John D. Rockefeller’s Excelsior Works. Such facilities were anything but sanitary. Fires were common, and the unusable fraction of refined crude was often dumped into the river.”

        In other words, it had a long history of catching on fire because it had a long history as being treated as an open sewer by industry. Ain’t nothin natural about that.

        Why don’t you just put your agenda on the table? Why have you accepted the claims of those who would despoil an environment we share for personal profit without question? What’s your damage?

        Industrial society has done many great things, but it has exacted a price. It’s basic common sense that we would try to minimize and undo damage that threatens our health and the health of the environment. Claims like yours are literally propoganda of those who would sacrifice our health and the health of our environment for short term profit or pleasure.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Adamatari,
          Fair questions, but too much hyperbole for someone interested in truth and fairness. What’s your angle?

          Certainly, many people have done terrible things to the environment through ignorance, bad judgement, or laziness. Find someone who would disagree with that, and I will show you an idiot.

          Just as surely, there are people trying to use images of water mixed with methane from bad water wells that have nothing to do with fracking to push an evil agenda. It DOES happen naturally, and due to bad water wells, and I don’t believevhas ever been tied to a bad fracking incident. Not that fracking has been flawless either, but what has been?

          I think your post shows as much, if not more, nefarious purpose than Ronnie’s did. Maybe you want to walk it back a bit?

          • 0 avatar
            Adamatari

            I’m not walking ANYTHING back. Ronnie’s comment is ignorant and perfectly fits the definition of whitewashing. The Cuyahoga does not naturally catch on fire. It never was a case of “swamp gas” or naturally occuring methane seeps or oil seeps. Bringing up the methane in wells issue is a blatant attempt to cloud the issue of industrial pollution. Ronnie is probably just repeating what he’s heard, but the effect is to pass on lies as truth and obscure the issues.

            I am frankly quite sick of people spreading lies and propoganda, deliberately or not. If my calling out Ronnie’s ignorance serves a “nefarious purpose”, I’d like you to explain to me how.

            On the fracking issue, I am very well versed. The issue of tap water catching on fire is very rarely if ever caused by fracking – water wells are usually shallower, and if there is methane in there it is due to shallow deposits (most of which are small and not commercially viable). So yes, showing that the taps let out methane doesn’t tell you much. That said, fracking companies have been found to pollute, often due to weakness in laws and oversight.

            Usually this takes the form of illegal dumping or sometimes legal dumping – I think it was in Pennsylvania that they had a case where the companies paid to have the waste liquids taken by the municipal water treatment places, totally legally, which then dumped it without treating it properly. This sort of thing rarely occurs in Texas or Louisiana, because those states have extremely strict laws regulating oil and gas companies. In Louisiana, even rainwater that falls on a well site has to be collected and disposed of properly. Strict regulations and oversight for industrial activities is not asking a lot. It’s common sense.

            In any case, that’s neither here nor there in the case of the Cuyahoga. It caught on fire because it was used as an open sewer by industry. Attempts to paint this as the result of natural seeps are the very definition of whitewashing.

            Perhaps I was too harsh with Ronnie, who probably doesn’t know the history, but the effect of letting this stuff slide over and over is that people begin to believe things that simply aren’t true. The comments sections then becomes an echo chamber of apologists for the less ethical aspects of industry.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            You accused Ronnie of purposeful propagandizing in your first line. Now, you admit he likely didn’t know he was doing it, yet you won’t walk it back?

            It’s clear you are passionate about the issue, but if you let that override the smarter parts of your brain, it’s not helping the environment.

            Lastly, I can’t find in all your fracking points a contradiction of my statement. Mostly just spin. Fracking companies have been known to pollute? What’s that supposed to mean? If it’s supposed to smear energy companies it’s a cheap rhetorical trick.

            Priests have been known to abuse children.
            Environmentalists have been known to blow things up.
            Teachers and doctors and politicians and fundraisers and Internet posters…

          • 0 avatar
            Adamatari

            Landcrusher, I’m curious what world you live in where pointing out a false statement requires “walking it back” but actually POSTING a whitewash is A-OK.

            Secondly, while I doubt what I do here changes anything, letting lies pass as truth certainly doesn’t help the environmental movement either. The Cuyahoga is one of the major triumphs of the environmental movement and modern environmental laws; it has gone from being deviod of fish in places to supporting 44 species in those same places. It was an open sewer, now it is much, much cleaner. That didn’t happen because people decided it must be “natural” that the river was covered in oil and trash and caught on fire – it happened because people saw this as a problem and worked to fix it.

            Second, the fracking comment was secondary and only served to muddy the waters, which it obviously has. But despite that, there is no “spin” in my suggestion that northern states look to the southern states with long experience in energy exploration and drilling for guidance in writing regulations. The issue of pollution from fracking is primarily due to bad laws and lax oversight. Some examples of what I’m talking about:

            http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/01/pennsylvania_allows_dumping_of.html

            This is not allowed in Texas.

            In any case, I’m not letting it slide. Maybe you should ask yourself why you think I should be walking back my statements? Nothing I’m saying is extreme or unfounded, to the contrary I am clearing up untruths. Why do you have a problem with this?

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Wow, you really don’t get it. Pointing out falsity is wonderful. It’s insulting people that I recommend retreating from. Read my posts again, read your own.

            You accused him of knowingly misrepresenting facts to push an agenda. There was a Congressman a while back that did that, and he had to apologize even though he, and everyone else, knew he was correct. In this case, I don’t think Ronnie knew he was incorrect, and you admitted he likely didn’t.

            Argue the facts all you like, I disapprove of your hyperbole which went so far as to call someone else here a liar.

            As for the muddy sidelines, you haven’t contradicted a thing I have said so we aren’t arguing about facts other than what you said. We do so, in spite of the fact that what you said is still there. PCH has used edit to try to win arguments with me before, and it worked a few times before I caught on, so don’t bother.

            You may not have meant to call liar, but you did.

        • 0 avatar

          I never denied industrial pollution was a factor in the Cuyahoga fires since the first recorded fire after the Civil War. I specifically mentioned oil in connection with the 1969 fire. I just said that there may have been fires before 1868. Everything that I’ve read about the Cuyahoga River fires says that the slow current was a factor.

          You accuse me of propaganda and having an agenda. The 1969 fire was hardly the worst on that river. There was a much worse fire in 1952 that burned boats and a waterfront building. The difference is that the 1969 fire took place in June of 1969, only a couple of months after the first Earth Day and the environmental movement seized on the Cuyahoga River fire as a symbol of the earth being despoiled by industry (and mankind). Talk about propaganda and agendas.

          I’ve managed waste, including hazardous waste, for an industrial lab and I’ve taken graduate level courses in hazwaste mgmt, including public policy courses that covered the history of US environmental law. Undoubtedly the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act were needed. The EPA today, however, is now a rogue agency the grossly violates statutory and constitutional limits on its authority and it is ideologically hostile to all sorts of industries, perhaps the concept of industry in the first place, when you consider they wanted to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

          I’m sorry if I’m not a member of the environmental religion. I’ve seen too much science compromised by politics and ideology to believe much of anything from that movement. The lies about the dangers of fracking are only the most recent.

          Humans would never have gotten where we are, a modern life with things like real medicine, and good nutrition if we had observed the “precautionary principle” that is one of the central creeds of the church of Gaia.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            +1 Bless you Ronnie, and your rational brain.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Adamatri may come across rather angry, but when you think about it, he has every right to be angry. Case in point: Look up PCBs in wikipedia. I’m paraphrasing, but basically some goons for the PCB Transformer Company intentionally spilled 31,000 gallons of toxic PCB waste over 240 miles of North Carolina highway, and it the end served a minimal amount of jail time. THAT should make anybody angry. What should have happened is the company should have been seized and sold off to pay for the cleanup. Same for every personal asset that the a-hole had. So you know what, everybody has a right to get pissed off.

            ……..I’m sorry if I’m not a member of the environmental religion. I’ve seen too much science compromised by politics and ideology to believe much of anything from that movement. The lies about the dangers of fracking are only the most recent. ……

            Any science being “compromised” by those who have “seen the environmental religion” pales by how much science has been compromised on the mighty alter of the DOLLAR. Big Business has made a sport of trying to spin science into money for themselves. Anybody who believes otherwise is delusional. Are all enviro-types all good guys? No, and Greenpeace would probably head that list of distortion-spinners. But even those guys are doing something for what they perceive is a cause. Even good groups like EDF can’t even begin to pay, say, a climatologist anywhere near what a large corporation can.

            We have to realize all forward advances will come with a toll on our surroundings. But through intelligent process we can have progress without the wanton destruction that is the hallmark of the Industrial Revolution.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            The health and well-being of the average person in this country is immeasurably greater today than it was prior to the industrial revolution. The wealth generated by our economic prosperity has allowed us to preserve and protect our environment so that today we enjoy one of the best protected environments of any large nation on earth.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            G2H,
            Angry is okay, but impugning the motivations of others isn’t acctable, and solves nothing. Argue facts all you want. No one has complained about that. It’s boring and unproductive but not objectionable.

            As for the “almighty dollar”, greed is just one reason that science gets corrupted. Greed is something you can often control for. IMO, the corruption caused by excluding those who don’t drink a certain flavor of Kool Aid from being able to even participate in the Academy is far more corrupting, and, once again IMO, has gone so far that all scientific product from academia or publicly funded is even more suspect than that paid for by lobbyists. One may be tainted by greed, but the other by greed, lust for power, fear of retribution, and fear of exclusion.

            Realistically, if you want to subvert a scientist, do you buy him off or promise to make him famous and influential in his field? Presumably, a scientist could have chosen a more lucrative career. I am not saying you can’t buy one, but lets get a better perspective.

        • 0 avatar
          car_guy2010

          @Adamatari-

          I wouldn’t even bother as TTAC has a conservative political bias a mile wide, even without Farago at the helm.

          There’s no denying that industry has been using our waterways as sewers for decades. We’re just starting to feel the more severe effects on our health and the denial machine just keeps chugging on, recruiting new sheep to spread it everyday.

  • avatar
    Morea

    “electric vehicles like the Teslas, Nissan’s Leaf or the Chevy Volt..”

    I think the Volt is better defined as a hybrid vehicle. (I know the system is not like the Prius…)

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    *yawn* They’re welcome to succeed or fail at their leisure so long as my taxes aren’t footing the bill.

    Also, perhaps they should reconsider “Detroit Electric” as a name. Detroit doesn’t have the best stigma right now. Kind of like naming a nuclear power plant “Chernobyl Energy”.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Lol this

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      You don’t remember the Eminem and Clint Eastwood Superbowl ads? Detroit is a pretty hot brand right now. Especially for people that can blow $100K on an electric Lotus like they are buying a Made in Detroit t-shirt.

      Detroit’s collapse was inevitable, we’ve probably had a tenfold reduction in the amount of people needed to make a car. SE Michigan is still world headquarters for car development, but car development does not fill subdivisions like line workers do.

      Now that Detroit is post collapse things are interesting. A dude can buy a block of buildings and build a private empire with a private train system. People can hold motorcycle races on an abandoned racetrack.

      People mocking Detroit would do well to ask why their city or area is different. You think that just because your area is electing corrupt Republicans instead of corrupt Democrats your city isn’t going to get bankrupted by pensions for f*ck off cops that retire at 50? California, a blue state, is at the cutting edge of switching public sector employees to defined contribution plans. Now that Detroit has a emergency manager it is going to be the model for how a city digs out from under privatization graft and public sector union greed. Your city is going to use it in as a model in 20 years.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Funny you would use California as an example isn’t the ratio for retiring firefighters to the amount of new firefighters to pay for the retiring ones pension around 1:5 or was it larger?

        Also of course Detroit is going to be doing commercials because the corrupt idiots that run the city think that’s a good use of money they don’t have. Mexico is doing commercials it’s still a hellhole

        Lesson of the day, don’t believe everything your told do your own research

        Also why do you believe the emergency management system is going to succeed and be a “success”?

        You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          “Funny you would use California as an example isn’t the ratio for retiring firefighters to the amount of new firefighters to pay for the retiring ones pension around 1:5 or was it larger?”

          Exactly, people should ask what their city is doing different that will prevent that. If they have no answer then they are in trouble.

          “Also of course Detroit is going to be doing commercials because the corrupt idiots that run the city think that’s a good use of money they don’t have.”

          You are the one making up facts. Detroit is not paying for Detroit commercials. An Italian company making cars in Canada is. Because it is a hot brand.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            “You are the one making up facts. Detroit is not paying for Detroit commercials. An Italian company making cars in Canada is. Because it is a hot brand.”

            Where did that brand get all their operating capital again? Nice try.

          • 0 avatar
            car_guy2010

            @racer-esq.:

            How dare you imply that Chrysler is an Italian company?

            No amount of Sergio’s fat fiat could never change that!

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        “You think that just because your area is electing corrupt Republicans instead of corrupt Democrats your city isn’t going to get bankrupted by pensions for f*ck off cops that retire at 50?”

        Funny you mention that, I have a buddy who is a cop and is getting ready to retire.

        He asked me if I was getting ready to retire since I’ve been on my job over twenty. I told him we haven’t had a pension plan since the 90′s and I’ve got a long way to go before I consider myself financially secure enough to retire.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          I know lawyers and accountants that became cops because it is such a sweet gig. The ironic thing is they really appreciate what a sweet gig they have, while the cops with the associates degrees or a few years in the military think they have it rough because they have to get out of bed to go to work. If people think giving away money like this is only going to bankrupt Detroit then they are naïve.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I went out to brunch the other day with two friends who are a Marine officer and a San Diego fire fighter. We’re all in our early to mid 40s. They’re both retiring in the next 24 months. It’s a good thing they work for such financially sound and productive companies!

  • avatar
    MBella

    “The choice of the Exige is an interesting one since that car is not sold in the United States”

    The Exige is available in the US. It’s just a hopped up Elise. You can even have an Exige S.
    http://www.lotuscars.com/us/our-cars/current-range/exige-range

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    If Tesla doesn’t want to sell electric an electric Elise/Exige anymore someone else should. I wonder if they are using the Tesla design and batteries. For Tesla Lotus would build an entire car in England and then Tesla would pop in the batteries in California. This is probably the same situation, except with Detroit.

    The Exige based car is going to need some NHTSA/DOT exemptions, but being electric should help with that.

    • 0 avatar

      You know, that’s a good point. Tesla created a niche product, and then walked away from that niche. Does a market for that niche still exist? Right now there are four Tesla Roadsters for sale on eBaymotors. One is a wreck, the others range in price from a 2008 for $60K to a 2010 for $94K.

      They couldn’t use Tesla’s designs and batteries without some kind of a deal with Tesla. Tesla assembles their own battery packs. They’re not adverse to deals, they supply Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, but we know about those deals and if Detroit Electric was buying Tesla batteries, Elon Musk would have probably announced it. Lotus obviously knows how to build a chassis that can accommodate a battery pack but the Tesla Roadster chassis is not exactly an Elise chassis, there are a lot of custom bits in the back. Again, I’m not sure Lotus could just sell Detroit Electric the same chassis without permission from Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Right, exactly, I’m not thinking IP theft, I’m thinking a deal for a niche Tesla abandoned despite having viable engineering. Maybe Musk is not as excited to brag about a Detroit Electric deal as the deals with Daimler and Toyota, which could actually keep Tesla solvent. But maybe they did take general Tesla concepts for electrifying an Elise without using anything explicitly patented. And the batteries were not that sophisticated for the Tesla Roadster, I think it was basically daisy chained laptop cells.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        How many miles did those used Tesla Roadsters have? They sold for $110K and up, at a huge loss to Tesla as they were burning through DOE money. Buyers lost interest before depreciation fell below 4 to 10 dollars a mile for the most part.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The highest mileage Tesla Roadster on cars.com has 28k miles on it, and had an asking price of $67k.

          The lowest price Tesla Roadster on cars.com has an asking price of $55k with 14k miles on it.

          I can read just about anything you want in to those numbers (big depreciation + low miles = bad, or still stratospheric prices = good), but one clear interpretation is that $55k for a used car is that it’s still an aspirational price for me, with wife and kid(s), on a dot-com salary.

          I’ve long heard that Tesla walked away from the roadster because everyone who wanted one and could pay for it has one… If that’s the case, it’s bad news for the new Detroit Electric. On the other hand, maybe Tesla proved what they needed to prove with the Roadster and decided to move on / move down market? Or maybe the new Detroid Electric knows how to cut costs without cutting quality? Donno. Time will tell, I guess, and I’m wishing everyone the best of luck because I personally want to own an EV at some point.

  • avatar

    Now if only I can get my Morgan-like Kline Kar revival off of the ground.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Like the name, wish them luck.

    What’s with all the negative waves?

    • 0 avatar
      oldyak

      The negative waves are from the viewers that just cant wait to put their political/environmental spin on just about any news that doesn’t fit ‘their’ beliefs..if they really are.
      99% have never been to Detroit or even seen the Cayhoga river…..
      reminds me of that funny add relating to ‘if its on the internet it must be true’.
      Who the hell came up with ‘Detroit paying for the Chrysler adds’
      Show me proof!!!!
      And if they did,it was a dammed good idea!!!!
      As far as a company taking advantage of available manufacturing facilities……If you were trying to start a car company wouldn`t you?
      This article was about someone taking a giant leap into re-establishing a long lost brand and I really don’t care how they get get the money to do it.It`s none of my business..God knows we have enough watchdogs!
      And as far as pollution in the early 1900`s goes….Thats just a f_ _ C ing ridiculous argument.k

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    The only lotus model sold here that is legal for the street is an evora. The last year of the elise/exige was 2011 when the exemtions ran out. One of the issues being headlight height, which is also what killed the Ford GT.

    Maybe detroit electric gets waivers or sponsors some redesign. It sure would eb good to be able to buy a street legal exige V6.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You’re right. And one of the other things that disqualifies the Elise/Exige and their Tesla counterpart is the lack of dual-stage airbags, something that on the face of things seems simple to rectify but is actually a very complicated and expensive development for a niche product. Certainly Lotus wasn’t looking to undertake such an expense at the end of 2011, when the exemptions expired, and isn’t looking to do so now, over a year later. Maybe, then, Detroit Electric is taking advantage of some sort of loophole or exemption that allows small companies to sell a limited number of vehicles in America that don’t meet safety standards.

      I hope that my suspicions (that someone at Detroit Electric didn’t do their research as to exactly why this car isn’t legal here in the states) are not true.

    • 0 avatar
      George Herbert

      Boxerman:
      One of the issues being headlight height, which is also what killed the Ford GT.

      I just took a look at FMVSS 108, which requires not less than 22 inches to … I think that’s center of the headlamp… for passenger vehicles.

      On the GT, working from photos not an actual car…

      It looks like there’s space to change the quarter panel metalwork and move the headlights up and back, closer to the wheel well. It would make the headlight enclosures larger, and require new metal. But if you did that and had the actual light panel be vertically narrow you should be easily able to clear 22 inches.

      Alternately, mount the headlamps as LED units up in the top corners of the windshield. No part of the car exceeds 54 inches high (the max allowed height…). Just have to deal with a bit more heat in the cockpit…

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Of course the Tesla Roadster used the same recipe and nearly the same Lotus body, and now that electric vehicles aren’t in their state of infancy any longer and there are very finished and professional products like the Tesla Model-S, Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma (to an extent), Ford Focus Energi and even the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, there are only so many electric “kit-cars” that the public will tolerate. Certainly there is no room for ideas that have already been done.

    Bottom line…if Tesla decides to further capitalize on their Model-S platform and make anything resembling of a sports car, or if that Cadillac ELR is as fast as it ought to be, Detroit Electric will be finished before it starts…

  • avatar
    redseca2

    They do accelerate faster than any gas or diesel car.

    Hybrids are the gateway drug to an electric future, once we figure out the battery thang.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I’ve heard this story too many times. It usually ends with shareholders left with useless paper, employees waking up one morning to discover the company is in foreclosure, and the principles in said corporation making their way to some island that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S. The niche for this sort of product is so narrow it’s virtually non existent. EV’s seem to as being something that people are ‘for’ but not necessarily something that people ‘want.’

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I just reaized that this is a cleverly-disguised bailout plan for Lotus. How else are they going to sell any product?


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