PHOTO CAPTION: Detroit Electric SP:01's start to come off UK-based assembly line.

SP:01 Rolls Off UK Assembly Line

At nearly £90.000, the Lotus-based SP:01 picks up where Tesla's Roadster left off.

Published: 20-Nov-2015

The name evokes an Edwardian era when Teddy Roosevelt was President and the future of the electric car still looked bright. But like many other early car companies, Detroit Electric would eventually succumb to the competition of the gasoline engine, producing its last cars in the early 1920s.

Then nearly a century later in a confusing drama of shifting ownership, a group of investors revived the brand with the pledge of building the iconic electric car again, not in Detroit, but eventually in Britain following the business model pioneered by Tesla, starting with an electric version of a Lotus sports car. After some delay and naysaying by doubters, the first SP:01s, originally debuted in 2013, have started to roll off the assembly line, to quote the BBC, "near the famed healing waters of Leamington Spa."

The two-seater based on the Elise is priced well above what the original Tesla Roadster went for, but that car never lacked for customers, so the equivalent price tag of $135,000US shouldn't be too off-putting to enthusiasts who yearn for a green ride that is pretty damned quick: 0-60 mph is advertised at 3.7 seconds. Top speed is said to be 155 mph, assuming you can find an abandoned runway on which to try it. Range on the 37kWh battery pack is said to be up to 180 miles (289 km).

While the SP:01 boasts some interesting electronic innovations, the most compelling is its "360 Powerback" system that allows the car to share electric power with the home, what historically has been called V2G, vehicle-to-grid first explored nearly two decades ago by AC Propulsion. In effect, the car can become a backup battery bank for the home, a nice feature is you're also planning to go solar.

Despite its name, however, the company currently has no plans to sell the car in the USA, focusing instead on the European and Asian markets.

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Detroit Electric Car circa 1915.

An animated GIF tour of the history of the electric car from 1828 to 2016, courtesy of Gearheads.org


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