Detroit Electric is Revived as Lotus-Based SP:01 EV Debuts

DE SP01 Front Quarter

After nearly 75 years off the market, the Detroit Electric automotive company will be relaunched this year with a sports car based on the Lotus Exige, powered solely by a battery pack. Like the Tesla Roadster before it, the SP:01 is a two-seat targa with a battery stuffed in the back to power the rear wheels. One notable difference is that while the Tesla’s battery pack, extra computers, and recharging system packed an additional 800lbs onto the standard Elise, the SP:O1 is only 400lbs heavier than the Exige that it’s based on, likely due to the extensive use of carbon composite body panels. The weight savings does come at a price, however, as the SP:01’s motor makes 201hp compared to the Tesla’s 248-295hp. The combination of lower weight and horsepower make the SP:01 as quick to 60mph as the most powerful Roadster.

The SP:01 will be a much more limited affair the the Roadster, however, as only 999 are to be produced, although Detroit Electric says that the plant producing the SP:01 in Michigan will have an annual capacity of 2,500 units (the company says it plans to produce two more models by the end of next year). Another difference between the DE and the Tesla? You can have your SP:01 with an honest-to-god manual transmission, which makes it the only electric vehicle on the market to sport a third pedal. The stick comes standard with four forward ratios, but a fifth can be had for an additional fee. The automatic is a two-speed, just like the prototype Roadsters before Tesla switched to a more reliable one-speed. The benefits of an electric motor make this manual unique. The clutch pedal does not have to be depressed when coming to a halt, the motor simply stops at the stoplight. The manual is only used to swap between gears, so no need to worry about stalling on takeoff either: just hit the accelerator.

The SP:01 looks like a pretty incredible car, even though at $135,000, it costs more than a top-of-the-line Roadster did a few years ago. While Tesla survived to make the Model S, many upstart automakers fail to even release a car before the company crumbles. Aptera Motors, the hanging-by-a-lifeline Fisker Automotive, and the practically dead Carbon Motors Corporation all come to mind when thinking about manufacturers that saw themselves battered over the last few years. Tesla had CEO Elon Musk’s Silicon Valley connections and US government-backed low-cost loans to keep it supplied with cash, while Fisker failed to meet deadlines to keep the federal drip going. Detroit Electric has a great looking car in its wings and will hopefully release its other two models quickly. Fisker was unable to bring a second car to market, and for a couple of years, Tesla didn’t have any cars to buy while it focused efforts to ramp up production for the Model S.

The Detroit Electric SP:01 is slated to go into production later this year.

Photos courtesy of Detroit Electric.


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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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