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Detroit Electric hums along toward hiring, making cars

The early 20th century bred nearly 100 startup automakers — nearly all of which went out of business.

As the electric car market continues to try to find its way, the upstart Detroit Electric Car Co. hopes to buck the odds and is giving a nod to the Motor City’s know-how by hiring staff and adding plant space in Wayne County.

The company set up headquarters in the Fisher Building this month, plans to hire 180 workers ahead of production in August, is evaluating plant locations and plans to unveil its first prototype sports car April 3.

The first new Detroit Electric will be a roughly $135,000 pure-electric two-seater based on the Lotus Elise platform with an annual run of 2,500 units, said Don Graunstadt, CEO of North America and former Lotus Engineering executive. The company did not provide details on its dealer network or sales plans.

Further details will be released next month, but the car will use a lithium-ion battery from Korea-based Kokam Co. Ltd. and will be available in a short-range and long-range model, Graunstadt said. Estimated mileage has not been disclosed.

The company is narrowing its search for manufacturing space after viewing 80 sites in Wayne County, Graunstadt said. The company is expected to sign a lease in the next week.
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