News : Detroit Electric gets recharged

Christopher A Sawyer

Detroit Electric (1)

Take two ex-Lotus Engineering alumni, mix in a name from the birth of the auto industry in Detroit, and what do you get? A Detroit Electric sports car. Albert Lam, former Group CEO of Lotus Engineering and Executive Director of Lotus Cars, and Don Graunstadt, former head of Lotus Engineering’s US operations, have announced plans to build 2500 electric sports cars in a dedicated Michigan production facility, and the opening of corporate headquarters in Detroit’s Fisher Building. Production of the new EV is expected to begin in August.

Lam, who revived the Detroit Electric brand in 2008, is the Chairman and Group CEO for Detroit Electric. He says the company will use an ‘asset light’ business model, and focus its efforts on R&D and marketing. All other disciplines will be ‘bought in” where possible, reducing the money, time and effort Detroit Electric has to spend on the development of new models and technologies.

Thus, off-the-shelf components will be adapted to the vehicles, with integration and software development the responsibility of the staff of Detroit Electric and its subcontractors. Over the next 12 months the automaker says it will create up to 180 sales and manufacturing-related jobs. It plans to build 999 cars, conveniently one less than the number that would prevent the company from asking for waivers from some of the more onerous US safety standards, such as the use of ‘smart’ airbags.

CEO of North American Operations Don Graunstadt will oversee the production facility, R&D and marketing personnel, so getting the car into production will be his responsibility. However, Detroit Electric says it will announce a partnership with ‘a global manufacturer’ at the Shanghai Motor Show on 20 April. Though Lotus provided the Elise as a base for the initial car, you can expect Lam to use his Chinese contacts to provide the platform for the sedans that follow.

Though the Elise is no longer sold in the US due to the conclusion of the waivers Lotus received from the US government a decade ago, this does not prevent Detroit Electric from selling the car outside of the country should it not receive new waivers from the US government. In addition, much of the work that went into turning the Elise into the Tesla Roadster has been used to as a starting point to update the Detroit Electric SP:01’s Elise chassis for electrification. Doing this will allow it to stay true to its plans to sell the sports car in ‘many of Detroit Electric’s target markets by the end of August 2013.’ Two other high-performance models are under consideration for sale by 2015, and may include an electrified Lotus Evora.

Detroit Electric (2)

Christopher Sawyer
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  1. Support the Birmingham eSuperprix!

    Bring back street racing to Brum!

    Switch it on and bring it on! Yeh!

  2. Utterly and completely pointless! Last week I covered nearly 700 miles in my German “compact executive” diesel estate without refuelling at an average speed of 48mph. When they make an electric car that will seat 4 adults plus luggage and do 500 miles without recharging (and also a/ costs less than £30,000 new and b/ will go 100,000 miles without major repairs or replacements) I will get interested.

    Electric “sports” cars are a waste of time and resources – “green” playthings for the ultra-rich time wasters that dominate the chattering classes.

  3. Why not? You forget that racing technology eventually filters into standard passenger cars.. I mean look at Audi’s Le-Mans racer as an excellent example. Why can’t the same principle work for electric cars?

  4. When you purchase a new electric car, complete with battery pack, that is in effect paying up front for the running costs of the car over the life of the battery. The “fuel”, the electricity for charging is a small sum compared to the £70 or £80 to fill the petrol tank once a fortnight.

    If you have to pay in advance, when the petrol car is new, for say, 11 years worth of fuel, what would be the price on the salesman invoice?

  5. its a myth though that they are green would you say? they need factories to make the batteries lots of damage is being done to the environment to get the ingredients to make the batteries then they have a huge carbon foot print transporting them and then you need power stations to recharge the batteries, whats the point. give me a v8 anyday, makes a lot more sense you also get a delicious sure not all will agree with me though…. oh well…

  6. mmm. But my point is that the technology has to start somwhere… it’s taken 100 years for the Otto engine to get to where it is.

    Hmm.. more much short termism please…. we’re BRITISH! lol!

  7. I read a report on how enviromently friendly various cars are-this took into account the energy cost of making them, life span in miles, mpg, recycling, the works. They called it dust to dust.

    The toyota landcrusier was one of the most greenest cars around!

    Any cars with a battery are the most wasteful in the world when you factor the mining for the battery products & the end of life disposal.

  8. exactly, had my sd1 25 years well looked after not the most economical to run but still less impact on the planet than buying a newly built car, so I will keep it as long as I can!!

  9. I think those who label these products ‘pointless’ are disregarding the vast amount of research going on to produce ecologically sound batteries with better range and faster charging.

    If no electric or hybrid cars were produced until battery technology was perfected, then we wouldn’t have got to where we are today, and battery transport would be limited to small street sweepers and milk floats. There would have been no incentive to have developed these vehicles to the point of viability that we have at the moment- let alone in the future.

    And people referring to the end of life batteries are ignoring the well-known fact that these batteries are recycled not simply dumped into landfill.

    Running an old car for 25 years is fine environmentally but it isn’t realistic for most people. Not to mention the fact that large numbers of people are involved in vehicle production.

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