The Detroit Electric is back! And hopefully they'll stick around this time. Many are unfamiliar with the Detroit Electric nameplate as it was very short-lived at the beginning of the century, before the popularity of the gasoline powered car. Originally the vehicle was developed by Anderson Carriage Company until 1911 that had been building buggies and carriages since 1884. It wasn't until 1907 when they had started building a lead acid rechargeable battery. For an extra cost of $600 dollars, you could get a nickel-plated rechargeable battery. It was advertised that these vehicles could get approximately 80 miles per charge at approximately 20 mph. There was one test that had shown that their Detroit Electric had gotten over 200 miles on charge, that's pretty impressive for the early 1900s.
In the 1900s, people had believed that gasoline powered cars were dirty and a pain to use. Many women loved the idea of not having to crank the vehicle every time they wanted to start the car. The Detroit Electric was a balance of beauty, comfort, and luxury. The ride was known to be very smooth and comfortable. They were known to be the best enclosed car on the road. When gas prices sky rocketed during World War I, gasoline powered cars became highly unpopular, and the Detroit Electric sales took a turn for the better. However, when the stock market crashed, so did the Detroit Electric. They had filed for bankruptcy and pulled through for a couple more years, however, lack of sales eventually caused the company to go out of business in 1939.
When I went to a museum a few months ago in Allentown, PA, I had actually seen an actual Detroit Electric up close. I was pretty impressed to see how much space was inside the actual vehicle. The vehicle had advertised as being very comfortable and I would have to agree. The inside was covered in cloth and looked like they were built to give a long-lasting impression. The overall exterior had a classy yet elegant look with the large windows and overall clean flowing lines. The gentleman who worked there had told me about all the celebrities of the times that had owned them such as Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, and even Henry Ford's wife, Clara Ford!
The next century rolls around and things have changed. Gasoline powered engines are the popular choice, however it seen to be inefficient, expensive, and highly polluted our precious planet. Laws and regulations eventually was put into place to push for better gas mileage in these vehicles. This has caused the automotive companies to change the way they think about transportation. In 2008, Detroit Electric nameplate was revived by Albert Lam, the former Group CEO of Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars England. Fast forward to March of 2013, it was announced that Detroit Electric was formally relaunched at their new headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.
The vision of Detroit Electric, "We create powerful electric cars. And our first production vehicle delivers pure electric excitement to those who love to drive. But we haven’t just set out to change the perception of ‘EVs’. By returning to Motor City with the aim of becoming the world's leading company for pure electric mobility and services, we believe we can spark the rejuvenation of an entire city. We believe we can spark a new era for the motoring world. We believe the future is electric."
The first vehicle to come out from Detroit Electric will be the SP01. It will be the fastest electric sports car with a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds and topping out at 155 mph. The vehicle will be based off the body and frame of the Lotus Elise (The Tesla Roadster is also based off the same car.) The SP01 is aiming to be known for its stellar performance style. This vehicle will enter production at the end of 2014. Cost for the SP01 will start around $135,000. There will be another performance vehicle that will go along with the SP01 as well as a family of diverse sedans that will join the fleet. The sedans will cost around $30,000 to $35,000 for more practical uses, about the same as the cost of a Nissan Leaf.
The future of gasoline powered engines are coming to an end soon. Many predict an electric vehicle future for our means of transportation. Laws and gasoline prices are making production tough on the large automakers of today. Only time will tell how these automotive companies will handle the constantly changing world that we live in today. I am excited to see what the future holds for electric vehicles. If Detroit Electric can produce what they claim in their vision, Tesla will have a run for their money. We will see if Detroit Electric can handle the automotive marketplace the second time around.
What are your thoughts about Detroit Electric?
Do you think electric will be our future?
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Photos courtesy of autoblog.com, plugincars.com, carscoops.com, and rumors.automobilemag.com.