2014 Detroit Electric SP:01

Ever heard of the name Detroit Electric ? If you answer yes, chances are you’re a tried and true auto historian because Detroit Electric is a real automaker.

Except that it hasn’t been around since 1939.

But back then, it was considered a pioneer of sorts, producing electric cars way before they were en vogue. But for whatever circumstance, the brand went away and it wasn’t until last year when it made a return.

Now, the reborn Detroit Electric is prepared to make some new headlines, thanks to a new electric car that’s fixing to change the way we think of EVs.

The car is called the SP:01, a Lotus Exige -looking electric sports car that Detroit Electric is promoting as the world’s fastest production electric car.

Not one to mince hyperbole, the Detroit-based automaker is determined to bring new life to the brand and it’s got a car in the SP:01 that can help it achieve just that.

Find out more about the Detroit Electric SP:01 after the jump

Exterior

Detroit Electric SP:01

Detroit Electric made no bones about the body it’s going to use for the SP:01. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s a Lotus Exige Lotus Exige , albeit one that uses bespoke bodywork that’s made entirely out of carbon fiber and tweaked by Jerry Chung, Detroit Electric Detroit Electric s Head of Design. By adding some angular lines and incorporating a more muscular stance than the Exige, Chung was able to successful differentiate the SP:01 as its own unique sports car.

So yeah, there’s the difference right there.

If you’re wondering why Detroit Electric is using an Exige body, the answer is because the company’s head honcho who’s responsible for bringing Detroit Electric back from the ground is no other than Albert Lam, former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and executive director of Lotus Cars of England.

It’s also interesting to note that the Exige’s rolling chassis is fully supplied to Detroit Electric, complete with a 90.6-inch wheelbase, fully independent front and rear suspension, and a front anti-roll bar. The SP:01 will also be configured as a mid-rear vehicle with the electric powerplant resting comfortably behind the seats and actually visible through a transparent hatch in the rear of the car.

Color options will likewise allow customers to choose from 7 different shades to go with three different alloy wheel designs.

Exterior Dimensions

Length x Width x HeightTBA
Wheelbase90.6 inches
Curb Weight2,354 pounds

Interior

Detroit Electric SP:01

By the time you jump into the interior of the SP:01, you’re going to notice a plethora of high-end luxury materials to go with an innovative integrated smartphone system that pretty much serves as the brain of the interior, and a little beyond that.

Putting aside the leather and carbon-fiber trim, an expected addition for a car like the SP:01, the smartphone system is really where things get interesting. It’s been aptly named as SAMI, which stands for "Smart Smart phone Application Managed Infotainment,” and it includes a host of useful amenities including navigation, a music player, interior lighting, key status points for the vehicle’s operation, and last but equally important as the rest, make phone calls.

Performance

Detroit Electric SP:01

Detroit Electric claims that the SP:01 will be the fastest ever "production electric car" with a 0-to-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. Big words for a car just making a comeback since it last appeared 70 plus years ago.

But for those boastful words, Detroit Electric is determined to back them up with an innovative electric powertrain that can produce as much as 201 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. With only 200 ponies on tap, questions as to how the SP:01 can achieve 155 mph isn’t that far-fetched.

Detroit Electric, though, has an answer in the form of what it claims to be an excellent power-to-weight ratio, combining the powertrain, the carbon-fiber body work and the lightweight battery pack to hit a total weight of just 2,354 pounds.

The car’s 37 kWh battery also allows for optimum energy storage capacity, giving the SP:01 the range to cover up to 190 miles in between charges. And when it’s time to put the plug in the sports car, a home charging unit will allow owners to fully charge the SP:01 in just a little over 4 hours, using "240 volts and 32 amps".

Here’s where the SP:01 differentiates itself anew. Whereas other EVs make use of a single-speed transmission, the SP:01 actually features a rear-wheel drive four-speed manual transmission with options of adding a five-speed manual transmission or a two-speed automatic if you’re not down for exerting effort changing between gears.

Drivetrain Specifications

MotorTBA
Horsepower201
Torque (ft-lbs.)166
0-to-100 km/h (62 mph)3.7 seconds
Top Speed155 mph
Battery Capacity37 kWh
Charging Time4.3 hours

Pricing

Detroit Electric SP:01

It figures that with all the options Detroit Electric is offering with the SP:01, it’s going to cost more than a pretty penny, too. Base price for the sports car has been set at $135,000 with higher prices attached depending on the specifications and local taxes.

That being said, Detroit Electric is offering a three-year, 30,000-mile warranty with an optional extension for the battery to five years and 50,000 miles. So that’s a good thing.

Expect the SP:01 to be on the market as early as the end of August, which will then be followed by, according to Detroit Electric, a pair of "high-performance models that will enter production by the end of 2014".

Competition

Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster

The Tesla Roadster is the understandable choice here as far as a competitor for the SP:01 is concerned. Line ’em up together and you think that you have two long-lost Lotuses seeing each other for the first time. And, while the Roadster does have more horsepower at 248 ponies compared to the 200 that comes out of the SP:1, the dramatic weight savings the latter enjoys, thanks to all that carbon fiber, equates to performance numbers that are pretty identical with the slight upper hand going to the Detroit Electric sports car.

If you’re thinking of making a purchase between the two, maybe it’s more prudent to just wait for the new Roadster, which rumors point to arriving in the next few years.

Until that one comes out, the SP:01 is a pretty sweet electric ride, even if you have to pay more of a premium to buy it.

Conclusion

Detroit Electric SP:01

It looks great. It’s lightweight. It’s got plenty of power. But best of all, it’s got serious speed for an electric car. And don’t forget about the four-speed transmission, which makes playing around with the car that much more fun.

The only caveat is that price tag. But if you have the money, just close your eyes when you’re making that purchase. Chances are that when you open them, you’re staring at a brand new set of keys.

LOVE IT
  • Impressive performance numbers
  • Looks like a top-caliber sports car
  • Runs on electricity
LEAVE IT
  • Pricey
  • Can you wait for the new Roadster?
  • Could be more than 200 ponies

Press Release

Detroit Electric SP:01

Emissions-free motoring has a new high-performance champion following the unveiling today of the Detroit Electric SP:01, a limited-edition, two-seat pure-electric sports car that sets new standards for performance and handling in the electric vehicle (EV) segment. Boasting an impressive 155 mph (249 km/h) top speed and covering the 0-62mph (0-100km/h) sprint in a blistering 3.7 seconds, the SP:01 is the world‟s fastest pure-electric production car.

The new SP:01 was launched under the brand‟s mantra of „Pure Electric Excitement‟ and was revealed at Detroit Electric‟s new headquarters in the Fisher Building in downtown Detroit. Just 999 examples will be built at Detroit Electric‟s new production facility in Wayne County, Michigan, with cars sold worldwide through a network of specialist retail partners.

The SP:01‟s exceptional performance is owed in large part to its excellent power-to- weight ratio. The rear-wheel-drive SP:01 features a compact, mid-mounted 201 bhp electric motor (delivering 166 lb ft of torque), a lightweight, purpose-designed battery pack and all-new carbon-fibre bodywork. Total weight is just 2,354 lb, contributing to the SP:01‟s superior driving dynamics and class-leading handling.

The vehicle is based on a strong yet lightweight aluminium platform, and is being launched following a five-year development and road-test programme. As well as the all-new carbon-fibre bodywork, similar to that used in Formula 1 vehicle chassis, the SP:01 also features specialised performance-tuned suspension, steering and brake systems to provide class-leading ride and handling characteristics.

Detroit Electric SP:01

To deliver instantaneous torque for breath-taking acceleration, the SP:01‟s innovative powertrain creates an electromagnetic field around the rotor shaft, which then spins at varying speeds to drive the wheels. Drivers can select one of four gear ratios for optimal acceleration, but unlike a manual shift in a conventional car, there is little need to change gear regularly to ensure brisk progress.

With an impressive energy storage capacity of 37 kWh, the battery gives the SP:01 a range of almost 190 miles between recharges, when tested to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) standard. Detroit Electric‟s home charging unit will enable drivers to charge their SP:01, with full charge achieved in 4.3 hours. Rigorously tested by Detroit Electric for use in the SP:01, the battery technology also has been deployed successfully in other highly demanding applications, notably in helicopters and submarines.

"The SP:01 will be exclusive, luxurious and technologically advanced," said Albert Lam, Detroit Electric‟s Chairman and Group CEO. "It is a milestone in the history of the Detroit Electric brand, but also a significant development for the international EV sector. The car will allow us to demonstrate to the world our ability to build an exciting and innovative product, one that displays outstanding performance coupled with strong green credentials, and which delivers an exhilarating driving experience."

Emotive design

Detroit Electric SP:01

The SP:01‟s bespoke bodywork is constructed entirely of carbon fibre. Styled by Detroit Electric‟s Head of Design, Jerry Chung, the SP:01‟s angular lines and muscular stance give the car a bold, imposing design while also optimising aerodynamic efficiency.

The one-piece front panel features a sharply contoured bonnet and angular front fenders with imposing air-intakes to emphasise the car‟s power and prowess. The compact rear light cluster is reminiscent of high-performance American sports cars of the past, while the integrated side cooling ducts enhance the car‟s distinctive profile. To accentuate the SP:01‟s pure electric credentials, a transparent inspection window displays the vehicle‟s impressive battery technology.

The interior of the vehicle hints at the essence of the Detroit Electric brand by combining luxurious refinement with advanced technology – highlighted through the use of carbon- fibre and specially selected leather finishes.

Unique SAMI infotainment system

The cabin of the SP:01 is packed with innovation, being the first to use smartphone applications to manage the complete in-car infotainment system. Named „SAMI‟ (Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment system), SAMI provides access to a wide range of functions, including music player, satellite navigation, interior lighting adjust and vehicle systems status – such as the level of battery charge, range to recharge and other vehicle telemetry. It can, of course, also be used to make mobile phone calls.

The inspiration does not just stop here. SAMI can also act as a remote control unit (via GSM), enabling the user to locate the vehicle, turn on the climate control system and check the charge status.

More than just a sports car

"Our research engineers at Detroit Electric have taken steps to break the mould," adds Mr Lam. "SP:01 is more than just a sports car, it is a mobile energy unit, allowing the user to use its stored battery energy to power not just the car but even an entire home. SP:01 is equipped with bi-directional charge and discharge capability, allowing it to release its stored electrical energy to power a home."

The SP:01‟s bi-directional charge and discharge feature is made possible through the patented Detroit Electric home charging and power back-up unit, named „360 Powerback‟. It is a smart home-charging and power back-up unit that enables the SP:01‟s battery to be charged at the rate of 8 kWh (240V@32A). This smart unit can also detect any power failure of the grid and provide the option to the user – via SAMI and the GSM network – to instruct the vehicle to restore power to the home using its stored energy. "360 Powerback is the next level of innovation and shows our determination to provide additional value proposition through our EVs, uniquely elevating us from others in the segment," added Mr Lam.

Power preserved

Detroit Electric SP:01

An all-disc braking system, coupled with ABS (anti-lock braking) and ESP (Electronic Stability Control) is fitted as standard, ensuring excellent stopping power. But it is the SP:01‟s Regenerative Braking technology that sets the car apart, underpinning superb stopping performance while ensuring greater energy efficiency. The car‟s energy recovery mechanism uses the motor as a generator, recovering kinetic energy when acceleration is interrupted and using it to recharge the vehicle‟s battery packs, while imitating the retardation characteristics of a gasoline engine.

Production and pedigree

The SP:01 sports car is the first production vehicle to be marketed under the Detroit Electric brand since 1939. On sale in many of Detroit Electric‟s target markets by end of August, the SP:01 will herald a new family of all-electric production cars, including two other high-performance models that will enter production by the end of 2014.

The price of SP:01 starts at $135,000 USD, and will vary according to specification and local taxes.

Each SP:01 will come with a three-year, 30,000-mile warranty with an optional extension for the battery to five years and 50,000 miles.

The SP:01 will be produced at the new Detroit Electric production site in Wayne Country, Michigan. The dedicated facility will have an annual capacity of 2,500 vehicles and create over 180 manufacturing and sales-related jobs over the next year.

The original electric car innovators, Detroit Electric began life in 1906 and established itself as the market leader and most prolific manufacturer of electric cars. Detroit Electric went on to make some 13,000 vehicles by 1939 and holds the electric vehicle production world record for the twentieth century.


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