Famed Detroit Electric Nameplate to Make Comeback Next Month in China

By Jacob Brown | March 19, 2013
Quick history lesson: Electric cars were the next big thing before gas-powered vehicles hit the scene in the early 1900s. Among the better-known brands was Detroit Electric, which produced most of its cars between 1909 and 1929. If you're still reading, here's some good news: Detroit Electric is on its way back, re-entering the market with a new sports car. Here's some not-so-good news: The first time it is set to reach public eyes will be on April 20 at the Shanghai Motor Show. So much for being an American brand with hometown pride, right?
While it'll be based in Detroit, Albert Lam, a former executive at British sports car maker Lotus, has been working on getting the new Detroit Electric off the ground since 2008. Retrofitting Lotus Elises with electric powertrains, his formula more or less replicates the one that worked for the Tesla Roadster, which was produced from 2008 to 2011. Detroit Electric's says it's designed to be an "asset-light" company, focusing most of its resources on engineering expertise and marketing costs; existing platforms will likely be implemented to save upfront costs.
That bodes well if you're not incredibly happy with paying the still-high, nearly new prices for a Tesla Roadster, assuming you're in the market for one. The Detroit Electric company looks to be a small outfit, staging its production--at least assembly of all of its parts--in Detroit, with its offices located in the historic Fisher building. The company says it plans to hire on 180 employees by the end of 2013, assembling as many as 2,500 cars per year. Two models in addition to its first sports car are in the works, one of which being a sedan. We don't yet know how powerful the planned sports car will be or its performance. We don't even know from where its electric powertrains will be sourced. All we do know is that Detroit Electric anticipates its car will achieve 211 miles to a charge. But if Tesla could rebody and re-engineer Lotus Elises, double their prices, and sell them to help kickstart one of the world's most successful all electric brands, we figure this new Detroit Electric might find similar success. Starting a new company is tough, even if Detroit Electric's business model is centered around existing technologies, but at least the automaker will have a proven model to look at when moving forward: Tesla's. Source: Detroit Electric