An electric car company with a rich history is rolling out a racy new EV that will be its first in 74 years.
Detroit Electric, which shipped its last electric car in 1939, will relaunch sales in August with an EV that accelerates from 0 to 62mph in 3.7 seconds and hits a top speed of 155mph. Company representatives say the $135,000 vehicle will be targeted at buyers who want performance first and electric technology second.
"It's not just an electric car," Alex Michaelides, a Detroit Electric spokesman, told us. "It's a sports car that happens to be electric."
Detroit Electric’s SP:01 will accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 155mph. (Source: Detroit Electric)
The new product, which the company is calling "the world’s fastest pure-electric production car," is clearly aimed at driving enthusiasts. Unlike most EVs, which typically use a single-speed transmission, the SP:01 drives its rear wheels through a four-speed manual transmission. Drivers don't need to use a clutch pedal to launch or stop the car -- only to change gears as the vehicle accelerates.
"It's really just there to give drivers the option that they normally don’t have with an electric vehicle," Michaelides said. The car goes up to about 30mph in first gear and 60mph in second.
The two-seat SP:01 has been compared to the Tesla Roadster, but Detroit Electric officials say their car's execution is different, and its batteries are smaller. The SP:01 employs two separate air-cooled battery packs -- one behind the passenger cabin and another above the AC synchronous electric motor in the rear. Together, the two packs offer 37kWh of energy, about one-third less than Tesla's Roadster. As such, the SP:01 recharges in approximately 4.3 hours at 240V and 32A.
Despite the battery size, the new vehicle will offer an all-electric range of about 180 miles. That's partly a result of the liberal use of carbon fiber composites for in car's body. The vehicle's curb weight is just 2,400 pounds.
The car's introduction marks a revival of the Detroit Electric name. The company, which built and sold electric cars from 1906 to 1939, sold 1,000 to 2,000 cars per year during its heyday in the 1910s. Notable customers included Thomas Edison, John D. Rockerfeller Jr., and Clara Ford (the wife of Henry Ford). However, the company stopped producing electric cars in 1929, and it sold its last vehicle in 1939.
The Detroit Electric brand was revived in 2008 by Albert Lam, former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group, with the idea of building an electric car with superior handling and performance characteristics. The revived company is headquartered in Detroit's Fisher Building.
Detroit Electric plans to build just 999 units of the SP:01, with the idea of starting sales in August. A second limited-run sports car will follow in 2014.
Back in 1968, or so, we went through a design exercise for an electric dragster with 4-wheel drive. The plan was to utilize 4 series wound DC motors, surplus, of course, and directly drive each wheel. We figured that for the few seconds to go a quater mile we could get away with a lot of overdrive. We were hoping for at least 1600HP in a car under 1000 pounds. The secret was the huge diesel generator truck parked back behind the pits, and the copper strips alongside the strip. Like a giat slotcar without the slot. It would have been a fantastic night time show, and it would have really been a recrd breaker. Unfortunately it was way more than we could scrape up to even start building. It could have been the 3 1/2 second car. Not quite silent until launch, but close.
J-Allen: Do we need jokes about "moral smugness" directed at Prius drivers?
We need another Nissan Leaf? Prius? Volt? etc... how many do we need?
I am not really sure what a electric car does "best"...?
"best" illusion of a zero pollution solution?.. (not zero pollution, not even close, even if you charged it with solar cells at home exclusively).... Lower pollution? most of the time (not all)
Electric cars at present certainly are not the cheapest cost per mile for ownership. Or highest performance. Or ?...
In the future? Maybe that will change.
Seriouly, nearly every technological advancement isn't adopted by what the general population sees as a "valid use". Most often, the adoption and advancement of technology is fueled by "morally questionable" uses ( war, greed and yes, sexual desire). Only later do they evolve in to products without moral burden.
So who cares about the social impact of 100 or 1,000 cars?.. When millions are being made.
Do we need another over-priced super-performance electric vehicle that tries to mimic a gas-powered racer? How about a simple, reliable machine that just gets you to work and back and handles local trips? I suspect that families could buy such a basic electric , and also have a gas car for longer trips or a super-powered one to help the man of the house to compensate for his masculine "shortcomings."
A bit disappointed by the slide show, I'd like to see what the controls of an electric sports car look like. As an aside, with this many auto articles appearing, Design News may have to see if Dan Neil's got any spare time...:-)
The benefits could start a lot sooner if the auto companies were willing to sell a manual stop-start package. That could be availablke by 2015 model year if they chose to push it a bit.
Right now it is not even possible to reduce fuel consumption by shifting into neutral and coasting, since the engine control algorithm keeps the engine speed up until the vehicle stops moving. That is probably to provide power steering assist, but it is a fuel waster regardless of the reason. Of course there is that other question which is do we really need power steering in the lighter cars today?
Yes, start-stop will be important to reducing fuel consumption, William K. We talk a lot about electric cars and plug-in hybrids because that's what people want to hear about. But the truth is that mass production of start-stop will probably save more fuel than electric cars, just because of the sheer numbers. Most expert say that 30%-50% of new vehicles will have start-stop by 2020. A few predict that 100% could have the feature by 2025. Automakers are waiting to see how customers receive it. If they accept it, we'll see a mass move to start-stop.
The fuel consumption of gas engine cars in heavy city traffic could be reduced a whole lot by implementing a stop-start engine management system, and even more if drivers were allowed to use manual control as well. At least some drivers could improve on the benefits of the automated system by a large margin.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.