Detroit Electric Revived with SP:01

This is not the first time we’ve seen a Lotus Elise stuffed full of lithium-ion batteries. Neither is it the first time there’s been a Lotus Elise stuffed full of lithium-ion batteries with a body fashioned entirely from carbon fibre.

Oh no, and if those similarities to Tesla’s pioneering Roadster aren’t spooky enough, the Detroit Electric SP:01 also churns out the same frightening acceleration figures as Elon Musk’s pocket-rocket and, at $135,000, will cost about the same when it goes on in August.

It’s all been done before, in other words, so is the SP:01 worth getting excited about then?

Well, yes, because when isn’t a supercar-humbling EV something to shout about? But there’s also the story of the revived Detroit Electric marque itself, which, more than anything, shows that the electric car market has actually regressed in the century-or-so since a man called William Anderson began shipping around 125 aluminium-bodied electric cars – ‘Detroit Electrics’ – out of Detroit in 1907.

Before petrol-engined cars became reliable and cheap enough for mass adoption, electric cars were big business. Detroit Electric was a leader in the field, too, shifting a record 1,893 cars in 1916, and a total of nearly 13,000 before the last one silently rolled off the production line in 1939.

What’s truly fascinating though, is that Detroit in the early 1900’s was far better equipped to deal with EVs than it is now; we’re talking home charging equipment here. People back then didn’t complain about a 65km range, either. They were just happy not to be walking.

With the help of a certain Thomas Edison, however, DE vehicles eventually managed around 80 miles range (one even achieved 211 miles), but the nickel-iron batteries required added around $600 to the base price.

Some things never change, then, and in 1914 a Ford Model T cost $500, whereas a standard DE was nearly $2000. Today you’ll pay around £28,000 for a standard Lotus Elise whilst the SP:01 is closer to £90,000, so the parameters haven’t changed at all. C’est la vie. For now, at least.

DE plans to build 999 examples of the SP:01, each with three-year, 30,000-mile warranty. Visit if you owning the fastest production EV on the market is for you!

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