Since 2008 Detroit Electric has been attempting to break into the world of plug-in cars, and its first vehicle, Lotus-based SP:01, has finalized its production look. But will the upstart automaker finally begin production of its Tesla Roadster knockoff, or will more delays push production of the long-deferred electric sports car back even further.
With the new, supposedly more aerodynamic look locked in, Detroit Electric has also revealed the finalized specifications for performance, including a 3.7 second sprint from 0 to 60 MPH and a top speed of 155 MPH. So while it isn’t quite as quick as the Tesla Model S P85D, it does share the same top speed, and it’s two-tenths of a second quicker than the Tesla Roadster despite having a slight horsepower deficit. It’s also lighter, coming in at just 2,590 pounds, though it can go just 179 miles between charges, compared to the 245 (and soon up to 400) miles of the original Tesla Roadster.
But the Detroit Electric does have two different vehicle-to-grid capabilities, and it has already secured it a sizable order of vehicles for a zero-emissions island in South Korea. The 360 POWERBACK system, as its called, can power a home like many EVs, but it also has the capability of transferring its energy to another electric car, a unique feature of dubious usefulness I must admit. So what will all this cost you? Well the automaker has apparently finalized everything but price, though last I heard it was in the $120,000 to $135,000 range…about what you’d pay for the 691 horsepower P85D. You can, however, get a manual transmission in the SP:01, something Tesla has never offered.
Detroit Electric has big plans for a follow-up vehicle to the SP:01, but considering it’s taken over 7 years just to get the finalized look of their first car, none of us should hold out hope for its debut anytime soon. That said, I do believe Detroit Electric SP:01 will (finally) begin production soon…but will anyone care?
Now that all the major players in the auto industry are embracing plug-in cars, whatever first-mover advantage Detroit Electric may have once had long ago spoiled. That means the SP:01 will live or die based on its own merits, and so far nothing I’ve read would compel me to pick it over what Tesla has to offer. It also rubs me the wrong way that Detroit Electric decided to move its headquarters and production to Britain after swearing up and down that it would build its vehicles in the Motor City (where it technically does have offices). Now it merely hopes to move production there someday, which is the same thing Henrik Fisker said on his way to blowing through a billion dollars.
Can Detroit Electric repeat what Tesla and Elon Musk have done? Or has that time come and gone already?