Detroit Electric was an electric car produced by the Anderson Electric Car Company in Detroit, Michigan. The company built 13,000 electric cars from 1907 to 1939. The Detroit Electric brand was revived again in 2008 to produce modern all-electric cars by Detroit Electric Holding Ltd. of the Netherlands. Wikipedia.

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There is no doubting that the FFZero1 concept car just unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is eye-catching, but it's one of a number of new and transformed car brands. For example, the Detroit Electric SP:01 or the recently announced Fisker Force 1 and London Taxi Company's TX5. What these companies have in common is a part- or fully-electric powertrain, a willingness to experiment with new business models, and Chinese funding. In a lecture given in 2010, Coventry University Professor Tom Donnelly predicted that the Chinese had the global auto market in their sights. The size of the Chinese domestic market and the challenges of meeting standards in competitive Western markets mean that it's unlikely we will see forecourts spilling over with Chinese brands such as Geelys or Dongfengs any time soon. But as Chinese manufacturing moves up the value chain, China is using its financial clout to buy-up well-known brands and supply expertise. The most obvious example of this trend is the purchase of Volvo by Geely: this sturdy Swedish brand brings first-rate expertise and supply-chain networks. The part-purchase of Peugeot by Dongfeng follows a similar logic. Just as important is that these purchases provide the scope to enable Chinese manufacturers to test global markets and gain credibility, not just in Europe and America, but in the all-important domestic market where foreign brands remain (for now) highly prized. This is a classic example of a technological catch-up strategy, and there are plenty of examples of other multi-nationals in emerging markets playing the same game – India's Tata Motors asute purchase of Jaguar Land Rover, for example. But, as the FFZero1 demonstrates, there is also something else happening: a leap-frog strategy whereby Chinese firms seeks to exploit new emerging technologies to gain an edge on Western competitors in fields that are still wide open. BYD Autos's Denza car, built through a collaboration with Germany's Daimler AG, is an electric vehicle that competes on price and performance with anything currently on the market. Hail a cab in Brussels and – ironically, given the EU's efforts to promote alternative fuels – if the car is electric, it's probably a Denza. This is due in part to a conscious effort from the government in Beijing. The 2012 Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan seeks to reduce energy dependency on Middle East states, tackle the air pollution problem, grow the Chinese car market and build a technological lead. Yet this spate of investment in electric supercars is arguably more a product of global connections and globally-minded individuals. Alan Lam, former Executive Director of Lotus Cars, revived the Detroit Electric brand by bringing together access to US markets and technology, UK design expertise, and Chinese investment. Billionaire investor Jia Yueting has sought to challenge (and emulate?) Tesla Motor's CEO Elon Musk by backing Faraday Future's prestigious, and at this stage concept-only, sportscar. Faraday Future brings much-coveted US expertise in energy storage, autonomous car intelligence and connectivity, but is aimed squarely at China as one of the key target markets. Are we witnessing a land-grab of the future automotive industry? Should we be worried? Certainly the Chinese aren't alone in looking at alternative fuels and new business models – every automotive industry company management team and a good few technology companies have this firmly on their radar. We've also been here before: waves of US and Japanese firms have in the past embarked on shopping sprees as the firms go global and internationalise their markets. Now Chinese, and Indian, firms are doing the same. Yet China is different, with Chinese firms demonstrating a huge appetite for creating global connections with enormous scope for experimentation based on its dizzying number of competing domestic and international brands. To emphasise, it's not just Chinese money that's driving this wave of new ventures, but an awareness of the benefits that can come from harnessing the strengths of the different technology, design, supply chains, and target markets. It's equally refreshing to see how entrepreneurs such as Alan Lam, with his international background, are willing and able to roll the dice and develop new car marques that may succeed or fail in segments traditional car-makers may overlook. How far Faraday Future gets to realising its vision remains to be seen. But it is this combination of new technologies, new players and new attitudes that's driving a wave of fresh initiatives. The good news is, with the right connections, there are opportunities for everyone.

News Article | November 9, 2015

As we reported recently, the first electric car recently rolled off the production lines at Detroit Electric’s manufacturing facility in the UK, bringing the anticipated electric sports car one step closer to wide release. As many have no doubt predicted — following the company’s scrapping of plans for production in the car manufacturing hub of Detroit, Michigan… from which Detroit Electric gets its name — it seems that the company may well end up not releasing the new electric vehicle (EV) in the US at all…. The name appears to (possibly) just be a means of selling Americana to Europeans (as with cowboys, country/honky tonk, blues music, jazz, etc). Even though the first SP:01 has rolled off the line and been sent on its way to an unidentified buyer in an unidentified location, the company (which is headquartered in The Netherlands, by the way) has yet to announce the car’s retail price. One thing is certain, though: the figure won’t be in American dollars. Despite its name, a nod to a defunct US-based maker of electric carriages from 1907 to 1938, the Detroit Electric sports car won’t be available in Detroit — or anywhere else in America. The company plans to sell the SP:01 only in Europe, Asia and few other select markets, including Iceland and South Africa. Detroit Electric’s CEO, Albert Lam, who announced the SP:01 with stars-and-stripes-waving enthusiasm back in 2013, doesn’t take the company’s geographic incongruity lightly. “We are Detroit Electric, not London Electric,” said Lam, former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group. “Our commitment to the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and the United States is as strong as it ever was.” But as the saying goes, love is a verb, and whether Lam can turn affectionate words into action remains to be seen. The company has promised that if things go well for its UK-built sports car, it will open a production facility in its namesake city to build a clean-sheet electric sedan. You can count me as skeptical that the Detroit Electric SP:01 will ever actually be available for general purchase in Detroit. Oh well, at least we still have Tesla to showcase the (seemingly asleep) “American entrepreneurial spirit.” And, yes, I’m aware that CEO Elon Musk is South African.     Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.   James Ayre 's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

Detroit Electric | Date: 2015-03-31

A power switching unit for use with a power grid, a home power network, and a vehicle power network. A first power port is connectable to the power grid to receive power therefrom, a second power port is connectable to the vehicle power network, and a third power port is connectable with the home power network. A switch is in electrical communication with the first, second and third power ports, with the switch being transitional between first and second positions. In the first position, the switch places the first power port in electrical communication with the second and third power ports to enable the power grid to provide power to the vehicle power network and the home power network. In the second position, the switch places the second power port in electrical communication with the third power port, allowing the vehicle to provide power to the house power port.

News Article | January 6, 2016

Jay Leno appears to spend most of his free time tinkering with various cars, including electric ones. One of his recent projects has been the restoration and modding (or as he calls it, "restomodding") of a 1914 Detroit Electric EV. It was made by the Anderson Electric Car Company in Detroit, Michigan, back in the days when EVs had significant market share. "Production of the electric automobile, powered by a rechargeable lead acid battery, began in 1907. For an additional US$600, an Edison nickel-iron battery was available from 1911 to 1916. The cars were advertised as reliably getting 80 miles (130 km) between battery recharging, although in one test a Detroit Electric ran 211.3 miles (340.1 km) on a single charge. Top speed was only about 20 mph (32 km/h), but this was considered adequate for driving within city or town limits at the time." (source) Before you wonder why modern electric cars don't get much better range than a hundred years ago, you have to remember that this was basically a wood box with wheels and doesn't compare to modern cars when it comes to safety, comfort, or performance. But still, Detroit Electric did an impressive job, and these things certainly had style! There's an interesting philosophical aspect to Leno's restoration project: Much of the parts of the car were badly damaged, including pretty much all of the wood parts, and had to be replaced. It's a bit like the tale of the old ax that had the handle and the blade replaced a few times. Is it still the same ax? I think so. What matters is the pattern. To get more biological about it, the cells in our bodies don't live as long as we do, and so are all replaced over time. Yet we are still the same people. Anyway, here's Jay. The first segment is about the Detroit Electric, the rest is about other of his projects: Above is a Detroit Electric charging in 1919, and below is a 1916 model. Here's a Detroit Electric in action. It's so quiet, you can clearly hear the birds as it rolls away: Here's another one driving down the street:

Nearly 100 years ago, the Anderson Carriage Company produced and sold one of the most popular electric vehicles of the time: The Detroit Electric. With production peaking at 1,000-2,000 cars in 1910, the company eventually renamed itself after its popular model and sold nearly 13,000 electric vehicles during its 32 years of production. The company never recovered from depression, producing its last EV in 1939. Detroit Electric is back. Meet the first car to wear the historic nameplate in over 70 years: The SP:01. The brand was revived in 2008 by Albert Lam, former Group CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars of England. Now headquartered in Detroit’s historic Fisher building, the company is set to restart Detroit Electric starting with the SP:01 electric sports car. The SP:01 is just the first from the Detroit startup. More family friendly vehicles are in the works, with two new models in the pipeline for 2014. The company is also setting up its production shop somewhere in the Detroit area where it expects to have a yearly production capacity of 2,500 vehicles. This facility will create 180 new jobs. Detroit Electric only plans on making 999 examples of the SP:01. That’s well under the 2,400 Tesla Roadsters produced during its four-year run. With a starting price of $135,000, the SP:01 also has a starting cost higher than the Roadster. But at least it’s just as fast. Detroit Electric claims the SP:01 is the fastest pure-electric production car on the market. And that’s true since the Roadster is no longer available. It’s claimed, although yet verified, performance numbers puts the SP:01 on the same level as the limited edition Tesla Roadster Sport. Plus, with a claimed top speed of 155 mph and 0-62 mph time of 3.7 seconds, it’s quicker than just about every other car out of Detroit including the new Corvette Stingray. Propulsion is provided by an air-cooled, asynchronous AC motor powered by dual 37-kWh lithium-polymer batteries. The system is good for 201 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque — not bad for a car that weighs just 2,403 pounds. Strangely enough, unlike the dead-simple Tesla Roadster, the SP:01 features a four-speed manual transmission or an optional two-speed automatic. Since the electric engine is either on or off, there is no need to use the clutch when stopping or starting. Detroit Electric claims the SP:01 has a driving range of 180 miles based on the New European Driving Cycle, but as Autoblog notes, while the official calculations haven’t been released, that likely results in about 150 miles on a U.S. cycle. It’s no secret that the carbon-fiber shell comes from a Lotus Exige. Interestingly enough, the Tesla Roadster is based largely on the Lotus Elise platform. Per Detroit Electric’s press release, it takes 4.3 hours to fully charge the SP:01 from a 240 volt outlet with 32 amps. It takes 8 hours on a 13-amp sources. But like the Chevy Volt, the SP:01 can output its electrical charge, serving as a sort of $135k electric generator in a pinch. Here’s hoping that Detroit Electric finds the same level of success as its forebearer. The EV market is wide open for new players. Tesla, while Detroit Electric’s main competition, has a large head start but by no means a monopoly. Fisker is dead in the water, GM and Toyota are pursuing hybrids, and Nissan is seemingly content selling low-end electric vehicles. The SP:01 will hit the production lines this August. The price starts at $135,000.

News Article | April 3, 2013

Little-known -- but storied-brand -- Detroit Electric has launched its electric alternative to the Tesla. The SP:01 is a limited-edition, two-seat pure-electric sports car, according to the company's announcement today. With its Lotus Elise-like design, the SP:01 boasts a top speed of 155 mph and goes from 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds. Other marquee features of the SP:01: The SP:01 sports car will "spearhead a diverse family of all-electric production cars," including two other high-performance models that are scheduled to enter production by end of 2014, the company said. The Detroit Electric brand was founded in 1907 when the electric car industry, strangely enough, was probably more vibrant than it is today. The brand was resurrected in 2008 by Albert Lam, who was formerly Group chief executive of the Lotus Engineering Group and is now Detroit Electric's chairman and Group CEO.

News Article | March 20, 2013

Storied-brand Detroit Electric is teasing an electric vehicle that will take on the Tesla. "After an absence of over 70 years, Detroit Electric...has returned to the legendary Motor City, promising job creation and a range of exciting 100% electric vehicles for the mass market," the company said in a press release. The first model will be "a limited-edition two-seat sports car," the company said. And it will be assembled in Michigan with production to start in August. "We are proud to become the fourth car manufacturer born out of Detroit," according to the statement. The vehicle hints of a design like the Lotus Elise-based Tesla Roadster. Which shouldn't be surprising, as the Detroit Electric brand was resurrected in 2008 by Albert Lam, who was formerly Group chief executive of the Lotus Engineering Group and is now Detroit Electric's chairman and Group CEO. The brand has a storied past. Detroit Electric was founded in 1907 and, ironically, the electric car industry was probably more vibrant then than it is today. "Early in the last century the electric vehicle industry was flourishing in Detroit...Detroit Electric was...selling more electric vehicles than any other company," according to the company. Detroit Electric made about 13,000 electric cars, which it describes an "electric vehicle production world record for the twentieth century." Notable customers at that time included Thomas Edison, Mamie Eisenhower, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Clara Ford, the wife of Henry Ford. But don't expect to be able to run out a buy one unless you have well over a hundred thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket. The car is expected to retail for about $135,000, according to reports, with 2,500 slated for annual production.

With Tesla's Roadster production having drawn to a close at the end of 2011, another electric vehicle startup is picking up where it left off, announcing a different Lotus-based sports car that can do 0–60mph in the same 3.7 seconds. The company is Detroit Electric, a name under which 13,000 or so electric vehicles were sold in the early 1900s. But this time around, the team running the show is targeting the discriminating buyer, outfitting the SP:01 with a custom carbon fiber body and a $135,000 price tag. That team also happens to be headed by former Lotus Engineering Group CEO Albert Lam, which explains the reason for using the company's Exige as the car's starting point. Should get between 150 and 180 miles on a single charge Autoblog reports that the 2,403-pound machine can reach a top speed of 155mph and should get between 150 and 180 miles on a single charge, which is noticeably lower than a lot of the competition. When its dual 37kWh lithium-polymer batteries run out of juice, you’ll be able to get back to a full charge in about eight hours, or a little over four if you’re connected to a higher-powered 240-volt 32-amp charger. You’ll also be able to use that energy to light your house, using an optional home-charging unit, if you’re ever hit with a power outage. And of course, the car will come with its own integrated smartphone system, which will let users control everything from navigation and the music player to lighting, heating, and regenerative braking. Unlike Tesla’s Roadster, the rear-wheel-drive SP:01 eschews a single-speed automatic transmission for a four-speed manual, but Detroit Electric also says that you won’t need to use the clutch either when you’re starting from a standstill or when coming to a stop. You can also opt for a two-speed automatic if you’d prefer that for some reason. The initial SP:01 production run is going to be starting in August, and will be limited to 999 cars, but there’s more on the horizon for Detroit Electric. The company says it has an annual capacity of 2,500 cars, and is aiming to have a sub-$50,000 family sedan in production by the end fo next year.

News Article | March 19, 2013

Detroit Electric is back. Again. For real this time. And the reborn automaker will debut an all-new, all-electric sports car next month, with plans to expand the brand over the next two years. If you’re catching a twinge of skepticism about Detroit Electric’s chances, you’re not off-base. The automaker was reanimated in 2008 by ZAP and Albert Lam, former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars of England, as well as the Managing Director of Apple’s Asia operations. The original plan was to produce an EV based on a Malaysian-based Proton sedan and retrofit a Lotus Elise with an electric drivetrain, similar to what Tesla did with the Roadster. Then … nothing. Today that silence was broken with the announcement that Detroit Electric is setting up shop in downtown Detroit’s Fisher Building, scouting a nearby production center and promising to bring over 180 jobs to Michigan in the next year. “We are proud to become the fourth car manufacturer born out of Detroit, and the first to manufacture a pure electric sports car from Michigan,” said Don Graunstadt, the company’s CEO of North America Operations. The plan is to release an electric sports car – again, likely based on the Lotus Elise – that showcases the company’s powertrain technology, with production set to begin in August after the official debut at the Shanghai Motor Show. That’s ambitious enough, particularly considering the new Elise isn’t federalized for U.S. sales due to airbag requirements, but Detroit Electric isn’t stopping there. The announcement also includes plans for “a diverse family of all-electric production cars, including two other high-performance models that will enter production by end of 2014” and a partnership with a yet-to-be-named global automaker later this year. But what’s missing is any mention of specifics. Detroit Electric isn’t talking about range, battery technology, powertrain architecture or funding. So until then, we’ll remain suitably skeptical about Detroit Electric’s aspirations.

News Article | April 5, 2013

See if this sounds familiar: A startup led by someone who wants to revolutionize the automotive industry has unveiled a sports car with an aluminum chassis derived from the Lotus Elise, a carbon fiber body to reduce weight and an electric motor with Porsche-level performance. No, it’s not the Tesla Roadster. It’s the Detroit Electric SP:01, a “new” car from a “new” company you’ve never heard of. And while the engineering was done at the company’s Michigan HQ, everything else can be traced to Silicon Valley. The concept, business plan, vehicle roll-out and overall direction almost exactly duplicates Tesla Motors’ model. Yes, this is all completely legal. The SP:01 is the brainchild of Albert Lam, a former Apple exec in China who also served as CEO of Lotus Engineering Group and executive director of Lotus Cars of England before buying the rights to the historic Detroit Electric brand a few years back. Lam, the company’s CEO and chairman, wanted to revive Detroit Electric, lined up some funding from Chinese investors and announced the SP:01 this week. “It’s not rocket science,” Lam told Wired. “You know what you can get away with [in an electric car].” What you can get away with is copying everything Tesla Motors has already done. Let’s start with the car. Based on the remarkably nimble and already lightweight Lotus Elise/Exige, Lam and his Michigan-based engineering crew swapped the mid-mounted gasoline engine for an asynchronous AC electric motor developed by AC Propulsion — which, by the way, provided the motor first used in, you guessed it, the Tesla Roadster. The drivetrain isn’t quite as potent at the Roadster’s, with just 201 horsepower to the Roadster’s 288, but it’s got 166 pound-feet of torque. Though down on power, the acceleration lines up exactly with the Roadster Sport thanks to improved battery chemistry and a lighter curb weight. Three “military grade” lithium-polymer battery packs doll out 37 kilowatt-hours of juice. All that oomph, and a curb weight of 2,354 pounds (370 pounds lighter than the Tesla), let the SP:01 deliver a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds — exactly the same as the Tesla Roadster Sport. The SP:01 falls short is range, though. The Roadster, which packed 53 kWh of juice in a 900-pound battery, was good for 200+ miles. Detroit Electric’s copycat will get 150 to 160, according to Lam. The one thing that Detroit Electric didn’t crib from the Roadster is its transmission. Instead of a single-speed gearbox, the SP:01 offers your choice of a two-speed, dual-clutch gearbox for maximum acceleration and a top speed of 155 mph, or a four- or five-speed manual, complete with clutch pedal. “We just want to put the fun back in driving,” Lam said of the manual boxes. “European drivers especially like the engaging feel of selecting manual gears.” Charging claims are ambitious, with Detroit Electric saying that a 240-volt outlet delivering 32 amps will top up the batteries in just under four and half hours. Drop that down to a 13-amp outlet and you’re looking at something closer to eight hours. For a base price of $135,000 you don’t get a stereo, but a dedicated smartphone app that handles navigation, music, lighting and charge status. And Detroit Electric says the SP:01 has a “bi-directional charge and discharge” system that can power your home. Production is set to begin in August, and the car will be built in Michigan. Just 999 are planned, half of which will be sold in the U.S., according to Lam, which allows the Detroit Electric to get a federal waiver for the lack of a smart airbag (one of the reasons you can’t get the new Lotus Elise in the states). “People will always compare us to Tesla.” But that’s only the beginning. In yet another imitation of Tesla, Detroit Electric claims to be developing “a new family of all-electric production cars.” That includes a sedan and hatchback set to be unveiled late next year. Sales are to begin in early 2015. “The sedan will be class-leading in terms of performance,” Lam said. “Both acceleration and top speed, it will be the leader, not just in an electric car, but when compared to all other sedans.” All of this, too, sounds awfully familiar. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk mapped out the same route for his company: Build a low-volume, high-powered electric supercar for well-heeled early adopters, then bring a mid-priced, medium-sized electric sedan to market, followed by a high-volume, affordable vehicle for the masses. Detroit Electric is following the same path, but skipping right from the sports car to a mass-market sedan, which Lam claims will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000 when it hits the market in 2015. Lam is no stranger to the electric vehicle game, though he doesn’t have much experience actually building them. When he acquired the Detroit Electric brand in 2008, he partnered with ZAP, the ill-fated and remarkably shady electric vehicle “manufacturer” based in Santa Rosa, California. Lam swears the relationship lasted a scant four months and ended when he realized he and the two guys “running” ZAP have very different goals and business practices. Detroit Electric is still mentioned on the ZAP website, but Lam says the two companies have no relationship. “It’s nothing. Zero,” he said. After several calls to ZAP’s headquarters, we eventually reached an executive assistant for the company who said, “ZAP is no longer involved with [Detroit Electric].” As for the obvious parallels to Tesla Motors, Lam isn’t worried. “People will always compare us to Tesla,” he said. And he’s okay with that. As for Musk, well, that’s another story. Asked about his take on Detroit Electric and its “new” car, Musk said through a spokeswoman, “no comment.”

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