2016 Detroit Electric SP:01
Have you ever heard of Detroit Electric? If you answered in the affirmative, you get a cookie, but we’ll probably have to mash it up and feed it to you with a spoon because the automaker kicked the bucket way back in 1939. Now, however, Detroit Electric is back, and it’s bringing with it a new all-electric sports car. It’s called the SP:01, and it’s based on a Lotus, bears loads of the latest EV technology, runs a 0-to-60 time under four seconds, and a boasts a very feathery curb weight.
Here’s a bit of background for those of you still left in the dark. Back in the early 1900s, the ICE-powered vehicle was far less popular than it is now. EVs were the preferred choice over the noisy, polluting, gas-powered alternatives. It was at this time that Detroit Electric thrived, with up to 2,000 electric cars sold annually by 1910.
However, over time, cheap gas and inventions like the electric starter and muffler pushed the EV to the sidelines, eventually unplugging it altogether.
But in case you didn’t notice, the electric vehicle is back, and in a big way. Now, five years after rising from the ashes, Detroit Electric is getting ready to unleash a sports car that the company hopes will “spearhead a diverse family of all-electric productions cars” for the future.
But times have changed a bit since 1910, which begs the question – how will the SP:01 shape up alongside rivals in the increasingly competitive modern EV marketplace?
Updated 07/16/2015: Detroit Electric finally revealed full specifications on its new SP:01. Read on for the details.
Continue reading to find out more about the Detroit Electric SP:01.
2016 Detroit Electric SP:01
Horsepower @ RPM:204
Torque @ RPM:206
0-60 time:5.3 sec.
Top Speed:106 mph
One glance at the SP:01, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at some defunct Lotus project car. That’s because the thing has deep roots in the famed British sports car manufacturer, even beyond the obvious Elise underpinnings and recycled architecture.
In order to build each SP:01, Detroit Electric must first take delivery of a complete Elise rolling chassis from Lotus, including the fully independent front and rear suspension assemblies and bonded-aluminum chassis.
As it turns out, Detroit Electric’s new boss, Albert Lam, was at one time the CEO of Lotus Engineering Group and the executive director of Lotus Cars of England. In fact, in order to build each SP:01, Detroit Electric must first take delivery of a complete Elise rolling chassis from Lotus, including the fully independent front and rear suspension assemblies and bonded-aluminum chassis.
That means you can rest assured the car starts from a very good place mechanically, with a low curb weight and high rigidity.
On top of these world-class sports-car bones is custom carbon-fiber body panels, as penned by Detroit Electric’s Head of Design, Jerry Chung. Detroit Electric claims the shape saw some tweaking for aerodynamic stability at speed.
All told, it’s hard to not see a lot of Lotus in this thing, with its short, pointed nose, curvaceous fenders, long sweeping roofline, and tasteful rear spoiler. And that’s not a bad thing by any means – Lotus makes some very pretty cars, and I believe the old “if it ain’t broke” adage would be appropriate here. In my opinion, it’s just different enough to give the impression of being unique, but not too far from the mark originally supplied by Britain.
Dimensionally, the SP:01 is almost identical to the Exige and Elise, with a 3,880-mm (152.76-inch) length, 1,751-mm (68.94-inch) width and 1,117-mm (43.98-inch) height.
There are seven paint options to choose from, including blue, white, silver, black, red, orange and green. There are also five lightweight wheel designs available, all of which are interesting. These include the 10-spoke Graphite Pro in gloss palladium grey, 12-spoke Silver Pro in sparkle silver, the funky looking Anderson Diamond in two-tone black-and-aluminum look, 12-spoke Anderson Satin in satin black, and a wavy-looking 8-spoke Anderson Gloss finished in gloss gold.
Options include a graphite textile carbon-fiber finish for the rear spoiler, battery cover, and rear diffuser element. Both hard top and soft top iterations will be available.
You can create your own custom SP:01 with the online configurator here (just click the “Configurator” link at the top, then hit “Get Started”).
|Length||3,880 MM (152.75 Inches)|
|Width||1,751 MM (68.93 Inches)|
|Height||1,117 MM (43.97 Inches)|
|Curb Weight||2,354 pounds|
Much like the exterior, the SP:01’s interior will have roughly the same layout and look as a Lotus Elise and Exige, down to the shape and placement of the gauge cluster and climate control vents. It’s not terribly elaborate or exciting, but it gets the job done.
The SP:01 comes with bolstered sports seats that are finished in either leather or Alcantara upholstery.
But whereas the Lotus models come with a cabin space that could be considered a bit spartan, eschewing creature comforts and high-tech in favor of a lower curb weight, the SP:01 adds a few nice features that cater to both well-coddled backsides and nerdy predilections.
First, the materials. The SP:01 comes with bolstered sports seats that are finished in either leather or Alcantara upholstery. The color scheme includes both one- and two-tone designs, while the door trim, dashboard trim and doorsills are all customized. Aluminum is also used for the trim. However, this is still a sports car we’re talking about, so don’t expect exorbitant levels of luxury.
Next, the tech. Detroit Electric is particularly vocal about its new Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment system, or SAMI for short. This setup allows drivers and passengers access to features like music players and satellite navigation while also providing data on vehicle systems like battery level, range and recharge time. You can tweak the interior lighting and view key status points for the vehicle’s operation, all via swipes and taps on the centrally mounted touchscreen. SAMI will also allow owners to locate the vehicle in a crowded parking lot and remotely operate the climate control.
To top off the battery pack, the SP:01 comes with a smart charging system that draws power at a rate of 8-kW (32-amps at 240-VAC). What’s more, it’s equipped with something called “bi-directional charge and discharge capability” via a 360-Powerback unit, which basically means that if you have enough juice on board, the car can be used as a mobile battery, charging anything you want. That includes providing electricity to individual devices, a home, and even other EVs. The system is quite clever too – if, for example, the car detects a power failure in the local grid while plugged in at your house, SAMI will provide the user with the option to restore power using the onboard stored energy.
A vehicle tracking system is an available option. Both right- and left-hand-drive configurations will be produced.
Considering it has underpinnings from Lotus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the SP:01 is a RWD, mid-engine sports car. Detroit Electric will offer two separate iterations: the entry-level Pure model and a higher-spec Performance model.
Making the go on both is a 120-kW motor hooked up to a 37-kWh battery. Instead of a traditional cogs-and-gears transmission, the Pure model has only a single speed, while the Performance has manual mode selector, presumably offering sharper response.
Top speed is rated at 106 mph in the Pure and 155 mph in the Performance, while both have a NEDC-rated range of 179 miles.
Both models lay down 207 pound-feet of torque, while the Pure model has 204 horsepower. Meanwhile, the Performance model sees output jump to 286 horsepower.
That might seem like a pittance next to the nearly 700 horsepower laid out by the top-spec 2015 Tesla Model S P85D, but here’s the thing – each Tesla weighs almost as much as a small moon, while the SP:01 is based on a Lotus. That means all that carbon fiber and aluminum in the SP:01 goes a long way towards shedding mass, with the final curb weight looking like 2,546 pounds for the Pure model and a slightly beefier 2,590 pounds for the Performance model. For an electric car, complete with battery packs and a sense of eco-friendly smugness, that’s quite impressive indeed.
That low weight translates into respectable performance figures despite the relatively low output, with a 0-to-60 run taking 5.3 seconds in the Pure model and 3.7 seconds in the Performance model. Top speed is rated at 106 mph in the Pure and 155 mph in the Performance, while both have a NEDC-rated range of 179 miles.
Detroit Electric says it wants the SP:01 to be a stellar handler as well. To that end, the wheels are staggered front to back, with 16-inchers up front and 17-inchers in the rear. Rubber is sized at 195/50 fore and 225/45 aft. And considering the thing only weighs about 2,500 pounds and comes with the bones of a Lotus, it shouldn’t be a total pig in the corners.
On paper, it’s a nice package for a sports car, electrified or no. But Detroit Electric has very lofty ambitions, once saying it wanted the SP:01 to be the fastest pure-electric production car in the world, a claim that Tesla may take issue with.
|Top Speed||106 MPH||155 MPH|
|Max Torque||206 LB-FT||206 LB-FT|
|Power||204 HP||286 HP|
|0 to 60 mph||5.3 seconds||3.7 seconds|
|Mode selector||single speed||manual|
There’s no easy way of putting this, so I’ll just come out with it: the SP:01 will start at $135,000, a number that could very well increase with options and local taxes. It’s unclear whether that figure will be attached to the entry-level Pure model or the higher-spec Performance model, but either way, this thing won’t be cheap.
At least Detroit Electric will also offer a 3-year, 30,000-mile warranty with an optional extension to cover the battery for five years or 50,000 miles.
Standard equipment for the Performance model includes the following: the iCAR communications package (exact details currently unavailable), Bluetooth/WiFi connectivity, a navigation system, 8.4-inch touchscreen, five-speed driving mode selector, a front bumper charge indicator light, limited-edition numbering plate, custom embroidered door mats, a black leather console, LED front daytime running lamps, LED taillights, driver and passenger airbags, blue brake calipers, ABS and climate control.
Standard features for the Pure model are currently unavailable.
For those who absolutely must have those bespoke features, Detroit Electric claims that local dealers can help customers with “anything else” they’d like specifically configured on their SP:01.
Detroit Electric will build just 999 units. Production will take place in Warwickshire in the U.K., with sales beginning by the end of this year in North America, the U.K., Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Ah yes, the standard, go-to all-electric sports car, the preeminent herald of lightening-bolt-powered performance, the flagship of Tesla and one of the most talked about cars of the decade. This is what the SP:01 will be butting heads with when it finally hits dealerships, and placed side-by-side, it’s hard to not give the nod to the Tesla. Sure, it’s a big heavy sedan, but for almost half the price, you get more range and nearly as much acceleration. It’ll also probably be more comfortable and come with more standard features. For about $25,000 less than a SP:01, you can opt for the top-spec P85D Tesla, which will simply demolish the SP:01 in a straight line. The only real question that remains is what happens when the road gets twisty.
Read our full review here.
We’ve been waiting for Audi to offer an all-electric version of the R8 for six years now, and finally, it looks like it may actually happen. The latest news pins this EV as bearing rear-mounted electric motors that spin the back wheels with 456 horsepower and 679 pound-feet of torque, enabling a 0-to-60 time under four seconds and a top speed of at least 155 mph. Advanced torque vectoring technologies will help it turn, while materials like carbon fiber will keep weight low. Unfortunately, Audi won’t offer this R8 to U.S. customers, but deliveries should begin elsewhere sometime next year.
Read our full review here.
Detroit Electric likes to tout the slogan “Pure Electric Performance,” and looking at the SP:01 on paper, I’d say mission accomplished. It looks good, has the right parts to be a decent little speed machine, and most impressively, weighs just 2,500 pounds. I also really like how the car will literally power your house in a blackout.
I also really like how the car will literally power your house in a blackout.
It’s all cool, modern stuff. But once you start digging, the problems rear their ugly heads.
First, there’s the problem of Tesla. The Model S is well established as the vehicle to beat in the electric car market, and at $130,000, I don’t really know how the SP:01 will win. Perhaps those looking for a more traditional sports car platform (that is, a lightweight, 2-door, 2-seater coupe) could be drawn away from their local Tesla dealership, but when it comes down to it, the Model S is simply a better car, even if it is a sedan.
Next, it’s hard not to consider this as much more than a Tesla Roadster reboot. In case you were unaware, Tesla’s first model also saw an electric motor stuffed into a Lotus shell. Sure, it did a lot of things right, but I struggle to see the point in springing for the Detroit Electric version, even if it is newer.
As the first commercial product offering of many, this model is exceedingly important for Detroit Electric, which might explain the company’s unwillingness to take excessive risks (like, I don’t know, bless it with 500 horsepower and Le Mans-style aerodynamics). Hopefully, that won’t mean the SP:01 gets lost in Tesla’s long, dark shadow.
My suggestion? Put this thing on a track, and let’s see what a 2,500-pound all-electric sports car is really capable of.
Updated 10/27/2014: Detroit Electric revealed the final exterior design for its new SP:01 sports car set to be put on sale in 2015. Unlike the prototype unveiled in 2013, the production form will feature a new fastback configuration and will feature a large rear wing to reduce lift and improve downforce at higher speeds. Click past the jump for the full details.