DETROIT ELECTRIC, an historic American car company resurrected by a British engineer, is putting the finishing touches to its first model as it prepares to plug in to the growing electric car market and take on Tesla.
Called the Detroit Electric SP:01, the £85,000 two-seat sports car is available to order now and deliveries will begin next Spring. It will be built in the UK, at a new factory in Leamington Spa, and production will be restricted to a total of 999 cars.
Much like the Tesla Roadster, the car is based on an adapted aluminium chassis from a Lotus Elise, which not only helps keep weight down to just 1,125kg, but should ensure that the driving experience is good fun.
Detroit Electric teases the look of the car in this video.
Albert Lam, a former executive at Lotus Engineering and Lotus Cars, jump-started Detroit Electric back to life in 2008 – 102 years after it was founded. Given that Tesla ended production of its Roadster in 2012, there could be a place for a sporty electric two-seater.
Detroit Electric is talking up its performance, with the promise of 0-60mph in 3.7sec and a top speed of 155mph, and says the SP:01 has an official driving range of more than 170 miles.
It’s a far cry from the first car it made in 1906. That model was known simply as the Detroit Electric, and had a top speed of around 20mph. However, the driving range was impressive, with the potential for almost 100 miles on a single charge of its battery.
Drivers liked the simplicity of operating the Detroit Electric. Unlike a petrol-powered car, the electric model didn’t call for brute force to get it started using a hand crank. Owners included the likes of Thomas Edison and Clara Ford, the wife of Henry Ford – and even Jay Leno has one, as you can see in his video below.
However, engineering improvements made to petrol cars, including the introduction of the electric starter motor, along with a less limited range and cost-cutting from mass production soon saw the plug being pulled on cars like the Detroit Electric.