Once upon a time, there was company that wanted to rip the engine out if a Lotus sports car, stuff it full of batteries and an electric motor, and jump into the deep end of the electric car pool. You can be forgiven if your first thought is, “Tesla Motors.” In this case, though, we are talking about Detroit Electric, a company whose electric car dreams began back in 2008. Frankly, other than announcing the SP-1 Lotus based sports car two years ago, nothing much has happened with the company. Until now.
Detroit Electric just announced a joint venture worth $1.8 billion with Far East Smarter Energy Group, a Chinese electrical and battery company. It says it has plans for two new electric car models in the next two years. The new joint venture company will spend $370 million to ramp up Detroit Electric’s European operations over the next four years. Part of that expansion includes updating and adding to the current facility located in Leamington Spa, England.
The first priority is to get the long delayed SP:01 into production, something they hope to accomplish before the end of this year. Simultaneously, a new R&D and testing facility will get underway. An electric SUV is planned for 2018 with a third vehicle due to come to market in 2020. Detroit Electric hopes to be selling 100,000 cars a year by then.
The plan sounds overly aggressive for a company that has languished by the side of the electric car highway for nearly a decade with nothing to show for its efforts. Elon Musk found out the hard way that thinking about building an automobile is easy; actually producing one is hard. The competition is ramping up. The mainstream manufactures may view electric cars as ugly step-children — something to be tolerated rather than embraced — but Detroit Electric will soon have lots of company.
Faraday Future, Lucid, and NIO all have electric SUVs coming. Tesla is already working on an SUV version of the Model 3. The German car companies all have electric SUVs on their drawing boards. Nonetheless, never underestimate the power of nearly $2 billion. Someone clearly thinks Detroit Electric has a bright future. “We’ll see,” said the Zen Master.