EV maker Detroit Electric signs $1.8bn China deal

13 Mar 2017

Image: Jeanie333/Shutterstock

Detroit Electric, an electric vehicle manufacturer lagging behind its better-known rivals, has just announced what could be a game-changing deal.

Automotive manufacturing is a costly business, with time, labour, supplies and research making for an expensive operation.

That’s why Tesla, for example, has taken years to get to a stage of mass production for the general car-buying audience, with its ‘affordable’ car due out in the next year.

Detroit Electric, a company that announced its own plans to do something similar in the sports car area in 2013, has been struggling to keep up. Its first release was last year.

However, things could be changing pretty soon.

The company has revealed a partnership with Chinese company Far East Smarter Energy Group, which specialises in electrics and battery technology.

The deal is worth $1.8bn and will see the US company bring out two more EV models in the next few years. As part of the venture, $370m will go into Detroit Electric’s European operations, with some funds earmarked for expanding its UK facilities.

According to Autoblog, the duo will also look at building a new facility, presumably in the US, to help with design, R&D, testing and production.

“According to their aggressive plan, that will enable them to develop an all-electric SUV and begin production in 2018. That model will be quickly followed by a third EV for 2020, at which point, Detroit Electric hopes to be selling 100,000 cars a year globally,” it said.

The EV landscape is getting quite busy. Alongside Tesla sits a range of established automotive giants such as Volkswagen, Daimler, Nissan and Audi. Google, Apple and Alibaba are involved in their own operations and other, smaller operators are beginning to emerge.

For example, in January, a company called Faraday Future launched the FF 91, capable of accelerating from zero to 100kph in a blistering 2.39 seconds, just surpassing the Tesla S P100D’s 2.5 seconds.

According to The Guardian, Faraday Future’s senior vice-president, Nick Sampson, added that it would also feature a semi-autonomous driving system – referred to as a “driverless valet” – that would allow the car to park itself.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic