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Detroit Electric, quiet since the Depression, plans a $135K Tesla Roadster-like electric car

The electric car field has a new entrant, Detroit Electric, with a planned $100,000-plus two-seat sports car that hopes to fill the void left by the original Tesla Roadster. Detroit Electric will skip this week’s New York International Auto Show to make an April 3 announcement in Detroit and a reveal of the actual car at the Shanghai Motor Show later in April. Why is a company so proud of the USA unveiling, well, over there? Megacities are the natural habitat for electric vehicles and China has more of them than anyone else. Also, if you’ve seen the air in China — emphasis on see — you know how the PRC needs clean cars.

Detroit Electric has a carefully scripted story to tell and only a few teaser photos to show. The car is described as a two-seater sports car that should look a lot like the Lotus Elise. Not surprisingly, it was the former group CEO of Lotus Cars, Albert Lam, that resuscitated the Detroit Electric brand in 2008. Lotus describes the car as one that “seamlessly integrates refined aesthetics, innovative technology and superior handling and performance.”

Translation: This is not a Nissan Leaf you’ll be getting but something more like the initial Tesla, the Roadster, that was produced from 2008-2011. At a price of $135,000 (estimated), think of it as Tesla Roadster Plus. Range and performance projections haven’t been revealed.

detroit electricThe first iteration of Detroit Electric ran 1907-1938. The company notes electric cars were as much as a quarter of all auto sales back then — mainly in early days before Henry Ford got his mass production line cranked up. Some of that may have been because batteries (lead-acid, at least) are relatively simple devices and electric motors were relatively reliable compared to internal combustion engines on account of fewer moving parts to break. The 2008 rebirth is being described as Detroit Electric 2.0. The “Made in USA” angle is strong: Headquarters are in the old Fisher Building in Detroit (as in Body by Fisher) and cars are assembly will be in nearby Wayne, Michigan.


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