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Delays At Detroit Electric Postpone Electric Sports Car By A Month

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Forgive the cynicism, but color us not all that surprised at the news that startup automaker Detroit Electric is postponing production of its SP:01 electric sports car by "at least a month."

Launched in a flurry of media attention in early April, the plug-in electric SP:01 sports coupe is essentially an electric conversion of the new Lotus Exige S now out-of-production Lotus Elise.

If that sounds familiar, it should: That was the basic formula behind the first car from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], its 2008 Roadster, which launched five years ago with more cabin space and entirely new styling.

According to The Detroit News, CEO Don Graunstadt said the company has not yet settled on a manufacturing site in Wayne County, Michigan, which includes the city of Detroit.

He told the local newspaper that Detroit Electric has identified a site in Plymouth Township, and "hopes to reach an agreement" to lease it "soon."

The company now hopes to begin production of the SP:01 electric sports car sometime in September, rather than August.

It will hold a jobs fair in June to fill the first of a projected 100 jobs, Graunstadt said.

While we presume final engineering on the SP:01 has been completed, three months still seems a rather short time to set up a final assembly plant, even if "production" is based on the use of partially assembled "glider" chassis from elsewhere.

Detroit Electric hopes to sell 999 of its SP:01 cars, priced at $135,000 each. It has also raised venture capital funding.

Those sales are intended to provide the capital to build and launch a second, less-pricey sports car to help fill its projected capacity of 2,500 cars a year.

Tesla built a total of 2,500 Roadsters over the three-year life of that car, before it ended production in December 2011 and began assembly of its Model S luxury sport sedan in June 2012.

The SP:01 features a 37-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack powering a 150-kilowatt (200-hp) electric motor. Unusually, it has a four-speed manual gearbox as well. The company says the SP:01 will accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds.

Detroit Electric was formed by a group of former Lotus executives, including founder Albert Lam. It also hopes to build the car in the Netherlands for European buyers.

It has a partnership with Chinese carmaker Geely (which owns Volvo) and hopes later on to launch an inexpensive electric sedan in China that uses the mid-size Geely Emgrand EC7 car as a base.

The modern-day Detroit Electric reuses the name of the company that produced many thousand electric cars during the first and second decades of the last century.

Many of those cars survive today, including a century-old 1914 Detroit Electric once owned by pioneering General Electric scientist Charles Steinmetz.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Our thanks to alert reader Chris G, who notes that the Detroit Electric SP:01 actually appears to be based on the new Lotus Exige S, and not the older Lotus Elise--which, he notes, is still in production in the U.K., although no longer offered for sale in the U.S. Thanks, Chris!

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Comments (5)
  1. I'm a huge supporter of EVs but Detroit Electric is a niche vehicle with an American rebranding. They have no path forward and no way to differentiate themselves from Tesla Motors.
     
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  2. lets see. Tesla stopped the Roadster, there could be room for a niche
    sport maker.
     
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  3. No differetn than the Tesla coupe which was also basically a Lotus EV conversion. Whats the dif?? Probably just the depth of pockets! $$$$
     
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  4. Sounds like they are following in Tesla's footsteps which could be a very good path to follow. There is plenty of room in the market for another electric automobile manufacturer.
     
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  5. You can be 1st or 2nd to market with an identical idea, but not 3rd. I hope Detroit Electric makes fast progress before the market overtakes them. Being innovative is one thing, being imitative is dangerous at best.
     
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