Detroit Electric brand is back with new electric car sporting US$135k price tag

5 Apr 2013

Detroit Electric SP:01 unveiled this week. Credit: Detroit Electric

Back in 1907 a Detroit, Michigan, company started producing an electric car known as the Detroit Electric and went on to sell 13,000 models up until 1939. Now the brand has been revived, with the arrival of an all-electric sports car this week that is aiming to be the fastest pure electric sports car on the market.

The car won’t be for your average driver, however, as it will come with a US$135,000 price tag and the company behind it is planning to create a limited edition run of 999 models. Known as the Detroit Electric SP:01, the car is expected to go on sale this August.

It was in 2008 that the Detroit Electric brand was re-launched by Albert Lam, the former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group. The company, also based in Detroit, has spent the past five years working on the new electric sports car using what it calls bi-directional technology. Detroit Electric is also planning to bring out two new high-performance electric vehicles in 2014. The cars will be engineered at the company’s new production facility in Wayne County, Michigan,

So here’s a bit more insight into the Detroit Electric SP:01. It’s a two-seat, rear-wheel-drive, open-top sports car with a mid-mounted motor and battery pack. The car’s bodywork is composed entirely of carbon fibre, with the vehicle weighing in at circa 2,403lb (1,090kg), depending on the specification.

The car graces Detroit Electric’s trademark graphic at the front of the car and on the battery. The SP:01 also displays its battery pack through a transparent hatch on top of the rear bodywork. The car will be available in seven metallic colours.

Detroit Electric SP:01

Detroit Electric SP:01

Its engineers claim that the SP:01 is the world’s fastest pure-electric sports car and can achieve a top speed of 155mph (249 km/h). They also claim the car can accelerate from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 3.7 seconds. Tesla’s Roadster, which ceased production in 2012 after a four-year run, takes 3.7 seconds to hit 60 mph.

The Detroit Electric SP:01’s air-cooled, asynchronous AC electric motor will be powered by two 37 kWh lithium polymer battery units.

According to the company, this will give the SP:01 a driving range of 180 miles (288 km). Apparently the car can be fully charged in 4.3 hours from a 240 volt outlet with 32 amps. Alternatively, it can achieve full charge in 8 hours from a 13-amp power source.

Detroit Electric SP:01

The Detroit Electric SP:01’s battery pack can be glimpsed via a transparent hatch at the rear of the car

Pioneering electric mobility

As for the original Detroit Electric, the first such electric car was produced by the Anderson Carriage Company in Detroit in 1907. The company had been in business since the 1880s making horse-drawn vehicles. It was in 1906 boss, William Anderson envisioned a future in electric vehicles. He began shipping his first cars the following year, making 125 Detroit Electric cars by the end of 1907.

The company went on to build 13,000 electric cars up until 1939. Here’s a glimpse of one of the original Detroit Electric cars:

1915 Detroit Electric model. Image via the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California
1915 Detroit Electric model. Image via the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic