Except that it hasn’t been around since 1939.
But back then, it was considered a pioneer of sorts, producing electric cars way before they were en vogue. But the brand went away, and it wasn’t until last year when it made a return.
Now, the reborn Detroit Electric is prepared to make some new headlines, thanks to a new electric car that the company says is going to change the way we think of EVs.
The Detroit-based automaker is determined to bring new life to the brand and it’s got a car in the SP:01 that can help it achieve just that.
Detroit Electric made no bones about the body it’s going to use for the SP:01. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s a Lotus Exige, albeit one that uses bespoke bodywork that’s made entirely out of carbon fiber and tweaked by Jerry Chung, Detroit Electric's Head of Design. By adding some angular lines and incorporating a more muscular stance than the Exige, Chung was able to successful differentiate the SP:01 as its own unique sports car.
So yeah, there’s the difference right there.
If you’re wondering why Detroit Electric is using an Exige body, the answer is because the company’s head honcho, who’s responsible for bringing Detroit Electric back, is no other than Albert Lam, former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and executive director of Lotus Cars of England.
It’s also interesting to note that the Exige’s rolling chassis is fully supplied to Detroit Electric, complete with a 90.6-inch wheelbase, fully independent front and rear suspension, and a front anti-roll bar. The SP:01 will also be configured as a mid-rear vehicle with the electric powerplant resting comfortably behind the seats and actually visible through a transparent hatch in the rear of the car.
Color options will allow customers to choose from seven different shades to go with three different alloy wheel designs.
|Length X Width X Height||TBA|
|Curb Weight||2,354 Pounds|
By the time you jump into the interior of the SP:01, you’re going to notice a plethora of high-end luxury materials to go with an innovative integrated smartphone system that pretty much serves as the brain of the interior, and a little beyond that.
Putting aside the leather and carbon-fiber trim, an expected addition for a car like the SP:01, the smartphone system, is where things really get interesting. The Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment system, or SAMI, includes a host of useful amenities including navigation, a music player, interior lighting, key status points for the vehicle’s operation, and last but equally important, the ability to make phone calls.
Detroit Electric claims that the SP:01 will be the fastest ever "production electric car" with a 0-to-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. Big words for a car just making a comeback since it last appeared 70 plus years ago.
Detroit Electric is determined to back up the hype with an innovative electric powertrain that can produce as much as 201 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. With only 200 ponies on tap, questions as to how the SP:01 can achieve 155 mph aren't that far-fetched.
Detroit Electric, though, has an answer in the form of what it claims to be an excellent power-to-weight ratio, combining the powertrain, the carbon-fiber body work and the lightweight battery pack to hit a total weight of just 2,354 pounds.
The car’s 37 kilowatt-hour battery also allows for optimum energy storage capacity, giving the SP:01 the range to cover up to 190 miles in between charges. And when it’s time to put the plug in the sports car, a home charging unit will allow owners to fully charge the SP:01 in just a little over 4 hours, using 240 volts and 32 amps.
Here’s where the SP:01 differentiates itself anew. Whereas other EVs make use of a single-speed transmission, the SP:01 actually features a rear-wheel drive four-speed manual transmission with options of adding a five-speed manual transmission or a two-speed automatic if you’re not down for exerting effort changing between gears.
|0-To-100 Km/H (62 Mph)||3.7 Seconds|
|Top Speed||155 Mph|
|Battery Capacity||37 KWh|
|Charging Time||4.3 Hours|
It figures that with all the options Detroit Electric is offering with the SP:01, it’s going to cost a pretty penny. Base price for the sports car has been set at $135,000 with higher prices attached depending on the specifications and local taxes.
That being said, Detroit Electric is offering a three-year, 30,000-mile warranty with an optional extension for the battery to five years and 50,000 miles. So that’s a good thing.
Expect the SP:01 to be on the market as early as the end of August, which will then be followed by, according to Detroit Electric, a pair of "high-performance models that will enter production by the end of 2014."
The Tesla Roadster is the understandable choice here as far as a competitor for the SP:01 is concerned. Line 'em up together and you think that you have two Lotuses seeing each other for the first time. And, while the Roadster does have more horsepower at 248 ponies compared to the 200 that come out of the SP:1, the dramatic weight savings the latter enjoys, thanks to all that carbon fiber, equates to performance numbers that are pretty identical with the slight upper hand going to the Detroit Electric sports car.
If you’re thinking of making a purchase between the two, maybe it’s more prudent to just wait for the new Roadster, which rumors point to arriving in the next few years.
Until that one comes out, the SP:01 is a pretty sweet electric ride, even if you have to pay more of a premium to buy it.
It looks great. It’s lightweight. It’s got plenty of power. But best of all, it’s got serious speed for an electric car. And don’t forget about the four-speed transmission, which makes playing around with the car that much more fun.
The only caveat is that price tag. But if you have the money, just close your eyes when you’re making that purchase. Chances are that when you open them, you’ll be staring at a brand new set of keys.