By on January 6, 2015

Detroit Electric SP01 exterior

Detroit Electric, the startup company that hopes to revive the early motoring age’s most successful brand of electric cars, has revealed the final design details and specifications of its Lotus based SP:01 battery powered sports car, which it says will start production in the UK early this year. Preproduction prototypes are being tested at the Leamington Spa assembly facility. Detroit Electric also announced the appointment of its first distributor in Asia.

The company claims that the carbon fiber bodied 210 KW (285 HP) SP:01 will be “the world’s fastest pure-electric production two-seater sports car”. Since the Tesla Roadster is no longer in production I’m not sure that Detroit Electric even has a competitor for that fictional title belt. Either way, the company is claiming performance stats of 0-60 MPH in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 MPH.

Three transmission choices will be offered, a manual gearbox and two automatics, one with two ratios and one with just a single speed. I’m interested to see why they describe that single ratio transmission as an “automatic”, since an electric motor theoretically doesn’t need a clutch or a torque converter as it doesn’t spin at idle.

Detroit Electric SP01 on the road

Exterior changes made since the second prototype was shown at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2013 are said to be for aerodynamic reasons and include a new rear profile with a fastback roof line and rear window that replace the flying buttresses of the first two prototypes. A new rear wing on top as well as a functional diffuser underneath the rear end that are intended to reduce lift at speed. Paint options and carbon fiber accessory parts were also announced as was a custom paint program for folks who insist on lime green cars. Customers will also have the choice of three different wheel designs, original to Detroit Electric.

Detroit Electric SP01 interior - Left hand drive

The centerpiece of the new interior design is an 8.4 inch touch screen in the console that the company says replaces all analog dials and switches on the instrument panel (though the photos seem to indicate conventional speedometer and tachometer dials in the binnacle in front of the driver). Infotainment, HVAC controls, battery status indicators, and V2X (Vehicle-to-Grid and Vehicle-to-Home) communication will be handled by Detroit Electric’s Android based SAMI (Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment) app. By using an open source platform, the company hopes that third party application developers will create new features for the SP:01. Interior color options were also announced, including the choice of leather or Alcantara upholstery. Based on the publicity photos, the SP:01’s cabin will be much less spartan than that of the Lotus cars on which it is based.

Detroit Electric SP01 interior - Right hand drive

On the business side of things, Integrated Energy, a Korean firm, has been announced as Detroit Electric’s first importer/distributor in Asia. Detroit Electric’s first Asian showroom will open in Seoul, South Korea, also in early 2015. Integrated Energy will also be be working on developing Detroit Electric’s V2X technology at a test site on Korea’s Jeju Island, using a fleet supplied by the startup automaker.

Detroit Electric is still run from their offices in Detroit’s Fisher Building and they say they still hope to one day assemble Detroit Electrics in the cars’ namesake region, but in the meantime they say they are completing the new, dedicated assembly facility in the UK as well as a new European headquarters in Houten, Netherlands that will hand sales, marketing and customer service in the EMEA region.

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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23 Comments on “Detroit Electric Reveals Production Exterior, Interior & Signs Asia Distributor...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Well I’ve stopped receiving all comment notices from TTAC again. Wonder how many days it will last this time!

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    It kinda looks like an Elise to me…

  • avatar

    Hopefuly this lasts longer than the aforementioned Roadster.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    For the Detroit Electric, I can’t think of any reason for a manual transmission.

    The only reason for a multi-speed transmission (that I can think of) is the 155 mph top speed.

    The Leaf and Model S have single-speed gear reducers, so the electric motor is spinning at 6-8000 RPM at 60 mph. To do 155, you’d be pushing the motor to roughly 18k RPM, and you’d have inefficiency (heat) issues to deal with also.

    The P85D supposedly has a top speed of 155 mph, so I’m curious to know how Tesla re-engineered the drivetrain, power, and cooling system to handle that.

    Business-wise, there are too many moving parts for me to believe these guys can succeed.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    No alphanumerics for this brand – this car will be named the Unicorn.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    What exactly is a one-speed automatic transmission? It runs in its gear until it automatically does… what? Think it might be time for another “saturation dive”.

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      It’s a marketing term that allows people that purchase cars to tell whether they have to shift gears or not.

      I’m really not getting the confusion here…

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        I’m really not getting the confusion here…

        That’s because you read poorly.
        It’s a one speed trans, tell me what they’re shifting.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          It’s being referred to as an automatic because there is no clutch.

          • 0 avatar

            It annoys me when companies make stuff up just for marketing. Acura brags about “top grain” leather, when all real leather you’d find in a car is top grain (as opposed to the full skin which is way too thick for upholstery).

            Frankly, if an electric car doesn’t need a clutch or torque converter I’d think that would be an advertising point.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Advertising has to make its points in just a few seconds, otherwise the message is lost.

            In the minds of the average person, automatic = no clutch. Teaching the consumer that this one-gear transmission is neither a manual nor an automatic is more likely to create confusion than it will help to sell cars. They aren’t being dishonest, so I can’t blame them.

            (Then again, I have no expectation that Detroit Electric will sell any cars, so I personally won’t be disappointed.)

        • 0 avatar
          clivesl

          Who cares? When was the last time a marketing term had to relate to the real world in any way?

          If it makes it easier we can call the non-shifter Vanilla and the stick Chocolate.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Okay, I pulled up the specs and I think I figured out what they are talking about. The lower end model is the “Pure” and has a top speed of 105 mph and it’s “Mode Selector” is listed as single speed. The “Performance” model has a top speed of 155 mph and the “Mode Selector” is listed as manual. My guess is that the performance model has a 2 speed final that requires you to pull a lever or something to enable light speed. Again, that’s just a guess.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Anyone have a guess at the price?

  • avatar

    I’m confused. My understanding is that the reason the Tesla Roadster—and the Lotus it’s based on—exited the US market is because they weren’t equipped to meet federal crash-safety mandates, and their pardon had expired. So either someone paid a lot of money to make this car sellable in the States, or they’ve made the silly decision of calling the company “Detroit Electric”, while neither producing nor selling its wares in the U.S (regardless of where the head office is).

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I suspect that your local Boy Scout troop’s soapbox derby team will produce more cars in the next few years than Detroit Electric ever will. This company doesn’t consist of much more than some press releases and a mailing address.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Tesla contracted for 300 chassis and that’s what they built. Not sure about the rest.

  • avatar
    MK

    don’t be confused, this is just a fluff press release from a virtual automaker to show “Detroit Resurgent” or some such puffery.

    I love Lotus autos but this is even more pedestrian than the Tesla roadster.

    Prediction: In five years Detroit Electric will only exist as a Wikipedia entry.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Leamington Spa is the point of assembly?

    Well at least Ricardo is making money off these jokers at Detroit Electric. Maybe they can help out the dreamers at Elio next. It’s taken that German consulting engineering company (exclusive to Elio!) a year to machine that blob of cast aluminum into a recognizable engine block.

    Paul Elio says he has a dream which most would call fantasy. But the Nigerian fax then email scam has also relieved dimwits of their life savings, much to their surprise. So Elio can count on a good living while running around uttering utterly bogus statements and collecting deposits. Another year or to spinning yarns and he can buy a Caribbean island and issue stamps.

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