Dutch Company to Sell Cheap, Powerful Electric Cars by End of 2009

Dutch-based EV start up Detroit Electric has announced that, by the end of next year, it plans to produce a range of affordable electric cars that are much more powerful than existing models and have zero emissions.

The company is in talks with Proton, the national Malaysian car-maker to produce the cars at their facilities in South East Asia. It is also in negotiations with two other, as yet unnamed, auto manufacturers from Germany and the U.S.

Speaking at a prototype viewing at the Proton test circuit in Malaysia, Detroit Electric’s Chief Executive, Albert Lam said, “We believe in affordable electric vehicles for the public. That is our dream … to find innovative ways to counter global warming.”

The cars, a sportscar, a sedan and a subcompact car, will feature a li-ion battery with a range of 200 miles on a single 7-8 hour charge and a total life span of 125,000 miles. They will also contain electric motor technology produced in-house. According to Chief Scientist Frits van Breemen-Schneider, the motor is 4 to 12 times lighter than exisiting designs, giving it a superior power-to-weight ratio. This means that it can produce 5kw of power per kilogram, whereas the best electric car in existence can only currently produce 0.25 kw per kilogram.

The sports car is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h ( 0-60mph) in less than 5 seconds, comparable to similar gasoline powered offerings. Although existing models were used at the test circuit event (the sports car was based on a Lotus), the company intend to create their own designs and market the cars under the Detroit Electric brand.

The venture aims to produce around 30,000 vehicles worldwide in the first year, at an estimated price of $24,000. This figure is projected to rise to 270,000 units annually by the end of the third year.

Speaking about the lack of an EV charging infrastructure, Lam acknowledged that setting up adequate battery-charging facilities would be a challenge. However, he maintained that it could be done, at least in Malaysia, because of government backing, adding, “It is about conviction. If you’re an early adapter, there will be some inconveniences, but I’m sure that in two to three years there will be a comprehensive infrastructure for fast charging.”

Detroit electric will join a growing number of car-makers planning to sell electric cars over the next few years, including global brands like BMW-Mini, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Mercedes, as well as new start-ups and independent companies such as Tesla and Th!nk.

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Image Credit – AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Andrew Williams

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.