Detroit Electric Reveals Lotus-Based SP:01 – First Model since 1939, Priced from $135,000


After having announced their return, Detroit Electric has finally revealed its first car, and it's a sporty Lotus Exige-based EV with impressive performance figures and a manual gearbox – the SP:01. You could also say that it marks the return of the Tesla Roadster…
They say it is the fastest all-electric production car on the market, reaching 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.7 seconds, before topping out at 155 mph (248 km/h) - we think Croatia's Rimac might have something to say about that, though. The acceleration is the same as that of the Tesla Roadster, but the SP:01 does have a higher top speed.
So what is it all about? Well, Detroit Electric says it gets the rolling chassis from Lotus in the UK, and then covers it with a bespoke carbon fiber body. It looks good, but since they say the panels are bespoke, perhaps they should have differentiated the SP:01 more from the car on which it's based – like Tesla did with the Roadster, for instance. Still, there are unique styling cues, which if you know your cars, won't allow you to confuse one of these if you see one on the road.
Because of its bonded-aluminum chassis, it only weighs 1,070 kg (2358 lbs), so it only needs 150 kW (~200 hp) and 166 lb-ft (225 Nm) to achieve its impressive performance figures. Another advantage is the handling, which comes courtesy of the low weight, but also the fully-independent suspension for all four corners, which has been retuned to cope with the extra bulk of the 37 kWh battery pack.
The battery along with the US-made electric motor sit where the conventional engine would have gone and Detroit Electric has even made the engine visible through its cover – we can't fully understand why, though, as there's not much to see. It's no Alfa Romeo V6 with a chromed exhaust manifold, that's for sure. Nevertheless, we won't mind that, because this car gets a manual gearbox, with four speeds as standard and an optional fifth. It contributes to both the performance of the car, as well as the claimed maximum range of 180 miles (288 km) on a single charge. There is also a two-speed automatic as a second optional transmission.
Inside, the attention-grabbing feature will be an integrated smartphone, through which the user/driver will be able to control the settings of the car, listen to music, and, of course, make phone calls on the go – it's called "SAMI" (Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment system). The car also features ABS and ESP as standard, as well as adjustable regenerative braking and a three-year 30,000-mile warranty.
The SP:01 will be built in a factory in or around Detroit, and the plan is to build 2,500 per year, which they plan to sell at $135,000 (€105,000) a pop – production starts August 2013. The company announced that they will be requiring the service of some 180 workers once things are up and running. They also plan to add two more models to the range by the end of 2014.
By Andrei Nedelea



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