By on April 4, 2013

Detroit Electric is a startup electric car maker that revives the brand of another startup electric car maker by the name of Detroit Electric. As chronicled by Ronnie Schreiber, Detroit Electric cars were produced by the Anderson Carriage company from 1907 to 1939. They sold thousands of them until they were displaced by a better idea, the internal combustion engine. Yesterday, the new Detroit Electric unveiled its first model, a $135,000, battery-powered sports car.

As reported by Reuters, the Detroit Electric SP:01 is “the world’s fastest pure-electric sports car,” with  a range of  “just under 190 miles” between charges.

The car will be built in the Detroit area at a dedicated plant with an annual capacity of 2,500, the company told Reuters.

According to the report, “the SP:01 appears to borrow heavily from the British-built Lotus Elise — no surprise considering a number of Detroit Electric executives previously worked for various affiliates of Lotus Cars.”

There is another Lotus connection: The brand was revived in 2007 as a joint venture between China’s Youngman and California’s Zap. Youngman also is the Chinese joint venture partner of Lotus, a marriage that produced bastard children, some of them depicted above. Youngman achieved notoriety as an incessant bidder for Saab, a courtship that ended in failure.

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12 Comments on “Detroit Electric Rides Again...”


  • avatar
    IllumFiati

    Wow. $135,000 for a battery powered Lotus. Subsidy?

    I can’t imagine being in those Product meetings when pricing was discussed and agreed upon…..

    “Hey folks, we were thinking $135,000 for the car. All agreed?”

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Elon found enough buyers for a $108K Lotus. If you went with the gas burner you could have bought two brand new ones, with oodles of cash left over for super unleaded, and had enjoyed better chassis dynamics.

      We know the rest of the story. Tesla is for real, and Lotus is fighting for its life.

  • avatar
    JMII

    So its rebranded Telsa?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This Lotus-based EV is yet another example of someone trying to emulate an already successful idea–like Microsoft’s halfhearted attempts with the Zune (remember that one), or all of those people trying to make their own “Million Dollar Homepage.” The problem is that these ideas work once…and only once.

    If Tesla builds anything remotely close to a roadster on its new Model-S platform, Detroit Electric will be finished…

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      If Tesla wanted to be in this market it could have kept working with Lotus on the Tesla Roadster, instead of opening up the opportunity for Detroit Electric to work with Lotus. Turning a midsize sedan platform into a light compact sports car stretches the limits of platform sharing. The smallest sports car we have gotten out of a midsize sedan is the 370Z.

      What is interesting about this car is that it signifies the point where a new car might not have to be successful enough to launch a new automotive company. Maybe it can stand on its own as a successful project.

      If Detroit Electric makes enough profit on these cars to justify the risk (i.e. a net economic profit), then I’ll count that as a success, even if this is the only car this iteration of Detroit Electric ever makes. The collaboration with Lotus cuts down on the development and manufacturing costs enough that a profit may actually be possible. At a certain point the challenge faced by Detroit Electric is not launching an automotive company, it is just launching a Lotus tuning shop.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        That’s not true. The Lotus chassis Tesla was using was discontinued. I’d be interested in knowing what’s underneath the skin of this car – chassis and battery tech..

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          This is based on the same Elise/Exige platform that the Tesla Roadster was. Lotus did not stop making the Elise/Exige, it just stopped importing it. The Elise/Exige lacked key NHTSA features like dual stage airbags, but waivers for that kind of thing come pretty freely for battery powered cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Dirk Stigler

      They’ll be finished anyway. I’m not a big fan of Tesla, but have to admit their strategy was smart – build a flashy roadster that will attract influential early adopters and look great on magazine covers, then take the fully developed tech and put it into progressively more affordable vehicles. In doing that, they built not only the Tesla brand, but the electric car brand in general. Now others can start off with more proletarian cars. See e.g. the Nissan Leaf.

      That Detroit Electric is copying Tesla’s strategy move for move proves they don’t know what they’re doing.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I have a Zune, it’s not that halfhearted!

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    A doomed to fail Detroit electric car company designed the perfect Enzo like it was nothing, while Ferrari themselves fumbled around and made an overstyled mess. In other news, hell has frozen over.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So Detroit Electric is building a Tesla Roadster in Detroit???

    Hopefully they don’t get the Fisker treatment – instead of A123 the battery provider going bankrupt, they run at least a moderate risk that their chassis provider Lotus, will.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “Youngman achieved notoriety as an incessant bidder for Saab, a courtship that ended in failure.”

    I knew there was something fishy here. Detroit Electric is just an elaborate bailout plan for Lotus.


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