Detroit Electric unveils "fastest pure-electric production car on the market"


April 4, 2013

Only 999 SP.01's will be built

Only 999 SP.01's will be built

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High-performance electric cars have been around for some years now, but despite the fact that Detroit and the electric car go back a long way, no all-electric supercars have been built in the Motor City. That is, until now. After giving us a bit of a tease last month, Detroit Electric has taken the wraps off its Limited-edition SP.01. According to its maker, the SP.01 is not only the “first pure electric sports car” to come out of Detroit, but it's also reportedly the fastest, and the first to be fully integrated with a smartphone.

Referred to by Detroit Electric as the “world's fastest pure-electric production car,” only 999 units of the SP.01 are scheduled to be built. The two-seat, rear-wheel-drive, open-top roadster has a mid-mounted motor and a lightweight, purpose-designed battery pack. It uses a re-engineered sports car platform with a bonded aluminum unitary structure with front and rear subframes and carbon-composite body panels, and boasts a kerb weight of 2,403 pounds (1,090 kg), which is on the lighter side for electric supercars.

It was styled by Detroit Electric's Head of Design, Jerry Chung, and standard equipment includes a body-color hardtop with a choice of alloy wheels, and carbon trim. Inside, the SP.01 is kitted out with carbon fiber-effect leather with body-color leather inserts and contrast stitching, while the center console is done in aluminum and carbon fiber.

An integrated smartphone sits in the center console where it does more than place calls. According to Detroit Electric, the SP.01 is the first car to use smartphone applications to manage the in-car infotainment system. The Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment system (SAMI) allows the driver access to a wide range of functions, including the music player, sat nav system, regenerative braking adjustment, interior lighting and vehicle systems status. It can also be used as a remote control to locate the car, turn on the climate control system and check the charge status.

This being an all-electric, the SP.01 uses a motor rather than an engine. In this case, it’s an air-cooled asynchronous AC motor behind the passenger cabin. Weighing only 110 pounds (50 kg), it pumps 201 bhp (150 kW) and 166 foot-pounds (225 Nm) of torque with an efficiency rating of 91 percent. Top speed is 155 mph (249 km/h) and it does 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in a respectable 3.7 seconds.

SP.01's battery compartment

The SP.01's electric motor delivers its power through the re-engineered gearbox carried over from an unspecified petrol-fueled donor car. It was originally a six-gear, but the fifth and sixth gear have been blocked off. However, the fifth gear is available as an option and there’s also a Twinspeed automatic gearbox available. The reason behind this arrangement is that the SP.01 uses an AC motor instead of a more expensive permanent magnet motor, which needs only a single-speed transmission.

The power source for the SP.01 is a pair of lithium polymer battery packs, with one located behind the gearbox and the other on top of the electric motor. They weigh in at 660 pounds (300 kg) and generate a maximum of 37 kWh for a range of 180 miles (288 km). Charging from a 240 volt/32 amp outlet charges the packs in 4.3 hours, and a 13-amp source does the job in eight hours. In addition, there’s a telemetry link that allows the car maker to monitor the health of the battery packs and drivetrain from anywhere in the world where a data link can be made.

Detroit Electric claims that the SP.01 can also reverse the charging in the event of a power failure. Using its 360 Powerback feature, the car can detect a loss in current and feed electricity from the batteries back into the home. Given that an emergency generator plugged directly into a house requires special wiring and that utilities dislike them for safety reasons, how practical this is remains to be seen.

The SP.01 has front and rear double-wishbone suspensions with coil springs, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. Steering is non-assisted rack-and-pinion with a 2.8 turn lock-to-lock movement.

Brakes for the SP.01 are front and rear 11.3-inch (282-mm) ventilated and cross-drilled discs with assistance from ABS and electronic stability control. The SP.01 also uses regenerative braking technology to send recovered energy to the battery while decelerating. The system also imitates the retardation characteristics of a petrol engine in gear when the foot is taken off the accelerator.

Production of the SP.01 is set to start in August, and Detroit Electric says that it will be the first in a line of new all-electrics including two high-performance cars scheduled for production in 2014.

The price of the SP.01 starts at US$135,000.

Source: Detroit Electric

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

All these cars are Lotus body and chassis, including the original Tesla. They are not "copies" they are actually purchased from Lotus

I have to say that lately I have been disappointed in Gizmag coverage they just copy and paste from other sources without doing any fact checking at all


Wait, how's this different from the original Tesla?


Looks like this one has a good bit of Lotus DNA.

Bob Ehresman

Looks exactly like a Lotus Exige to me.


If just for giggles and grins we put up against a 87 Testarossa at Nurburgring racetrack how many laps would the SP.01 complete before running out of juice.


always negative Slowburn, it is called evolving technology, things change, that is why Gizmag is here, word I hate, dude why must you always be negative?

Bill Bennett

Great technology and performance but it is such an angular and ugly body design, maybe just my taste but to my way of thinking, it could have looked prettier and sexier with smoother lines. Electromotive propulsion is certainly the way to go and with the new generation of air batteries we are looking good for the future.

Facebook User

Of course it is Lotus body! Wrong GIZMAG, you should not misinform your readers! For Detroit it is normal. At least two years ago before the Detroit electric in small Croatia:


This is such a blatant copy of the Tesla. Why do they think we need another Tesla ??

Detroit would be better off sticking with it's roots and making an electric truck with 500 miles range rather than a poor copy of a not that successful electric sports car with a tiny battery.

How about an RV with a big bank of cells to get you 1000 miles of range? All RV parks have multiple electric hook-ups too, so you can always charge it overnight wherever you end up.

While I'm here, why haven't these people used "4" batteries and four plug points instead of "1"? Wouldn't that 1/4 the charge time? (I can charge 4 phones at home at the same time, why not 4 "different" car batteries?)

Sorry Detroit.



I quite agree Bill, and also a stupidly inane (and wrong) example. An '87 Testarossa has a 28 gallon fuel capacity, and on a track would get about 6mpg, if you're lucky, giving it a range of 168 miles, or about 2 laps less than the SP.01.


Wait a moment now, this is a very interesting development. I enjoy driving my Toyota Prius Plug-in. Because it performs much better around cities in full electric mode compared to running on the engine when the small battery is depleted. The lithium-ion battery for this Prius Plug-in weighs 80 kg (180 lb) for just 3.4 kWh), which is grossly under-dimensioned: Electric top speed is limited to 55 mph and range to 10 (winter) or 14 miles (summer). This Detroit sports car can drive full throttle on a 37 kWh battery which only weighs 300 kg / 660 lb. That is an astounding 10.9 times as much capacity for only 3.75 times the weight. The estimated miles per kWh is probably optimistic or only valid for 55 mph speed though. At full throttle driving it might be depleted in 15 minutes. That is 35 miles on a deserted salt plane or 20+ miles racing on the Nurnberg ring ;-). Anyhow, this is clearly a big step up for practical driving circumstances. Although I don't know how heavy the battery of the sparsely available Volvo plug-in is ( car weight 4300 lb, electric speed 75 mph, range 31 miles).


Cool looking car. Range is going up - sweet. Someday we'll have cars doing 400 - 500 miles on a 5 minute charge but probably not in my lifetime.


The reason it looks like a Lotus is because it is a Lotus. The reason it looks like a Tesla is because the Tesla is a Lotus. Both these outfits are buying Lotus bodies and putting their stuff in them.


Essentially they saw a niche for the car due to the fact Tesla has stopped making their roadster in favor of the new Model S. Ergo the people who for some reason or other couldn't or wouldn't buy the Tesla now have a means of obtaining a doppelganger.


re; Bill Bennett

Especially when I have to help pay for foolish things.

re; Synchro

You seem to have forgotten the high range drop from high acceleration and high speed driving in electric cars. But even assuming you get a 200 mile range while race driving any race over 200 miles in length will be lost by the the long recharge times.


Yes, yes, it all looks good on paper, sort of, but from WHERE do you get all of the killywiggles needed to charge the battery packs back up again?? WHERE is the infrastructure to handle even just a 5% increase in load on the grid from electric cars? Instead of these kinds of "solutions" for the hand wringing worry warts of the world, why don't we come up with REAL solutions instead?? It IS one bad ass looking car, at least to me anyway. I'd like to power one with a MYT toroidal engine running on natural gas or methane from a community bio-reactor like they have in India. Use solar power via batteries to run the pump that compresses the gas in the carbon fiber/Kevlar tanks.


Expanded Viewpoint

Chung gets a 7 for that one. Ugh!

Detroit Electrics were great cars.

Curved glass corners.

Even had glass flower vases long before (80 yrs) the revived Beetle.

Used to be a woman who drove her Detroit Electric to go shopping on South U. She got out in a sprightly way with her black taffeta outfit and high topped boots all laced up. She was gorgeous and smiling but quite a bit older than me so I could only smile back.

Now I know.


Lewis Dickens

Wow.... This is so ridiculous.

So,Tesla,GM AND Hennessy cannot build cars and can only re-power them?

Why don't they just use old VW Beetles and admit that they are just building kit cars.... and not even changing the body?

We are building a Car right now and I would never use another designer's body and call it my own.

I can understand ONE company using the Lotus,maybe... but THREE?

Call a spade,a spade.

You could have at least used something a little more original... like maybe just steal Tucker's intended comeback car, which was a sleek coupe- the same sort of people destroyed him and his company before, so... why not?

What can we expect from an industry that has come to despise and destroy originality?

If a truly great car will be built in America, it will not be corporate America that will build it.

It will be an American- an individual who can still dream beyond the lawyers,the committees and all the BS excuses.

As long as the American Ingenuity is still alive, the American Dream is not dead.

If you listen to corporate America,hollywood and DC- you will believe that time is already past.


PS Colin Chapman(and Colin Dare,too!) must be just laughing his head off somewhere...

He would seem to be having the last laugh and laughing loudest!

Maybe the next corporate clone/clown committee can get original and use a DIFFERENT Lotus- maybe something really advanced like the Super Seven!

Numerous sources(including the Ariel Atom,really) STILL sell various versions of those for people to just pick their power and do "quick-builds" with.... after HOW MANY YEARS?


Yes, this is a better version of the original tesla-lotus for sure. Everyone wants to use the lotus Elise/Exige platform because of its modular design and proven road manners. Getting all of this done while only increasing original lotus weight by 200lb is quite amazing really. Kudos.

We were in Detroit three years ago to forward our plan to build a very similar car (too similar is you ask me) using the very same AC motor and 35kW battery pack (using A123 batteries at the time) in the same chassis. Our plan was to mount a redesigned micro-turbine that generated 35kW of constant output on a high speed AC generator mounted to the intake side of the turbine (mounted about where the supercharger was on the original Exige). Expected initial range was 1500km. with a full charge and full tank of fuel and 2000km after a few upgrades. Our weight target was also somewhere between 2400 and 2600lb. We were promised funding but that funding never materialized and our turbine engineers, from Denmark, simply flew home and went to work on other projects...


It's not surprising that the SP.01 looks like a Lotus. At least five of Detroit Electric's executives used to work at Lotus.

According to the Detroit Electric website, Albert Lam, Chairman and CEO of Detroit Electric is from Lotus. "Before founding Detroit Electric, Albert Lam was the CEO of Lotus Group and Executive Director of Lotus Group International."

And, the President of Detroit Electric, Benjamin Boycott "... had been General Manager of Lotus Engineering China for five years..."

And, Don Graundstadt, the Detroit Electric CEO of North American operations, "... was President of CEO of Lotus Engineering (USA)."

And, Oliver Fong, Detroit Electric Managing Director of Asia Pacific Operations held a "previous role as General Manager for Lotus Engineering's China operation..."

And Willem van der Kooi, Detroit Electric President of European Sales Operation had worked at Lotus (among other makes.)

Reference: Management Biographies at


This UK built car is far from the fastest as the Germans builders are all bringing electric powered models out as we discuss this - my favourite so far is the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell...With 526 hp and 649 lb-ft of torque—from 0 RPM, and perfomance of 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds and a restricted top speed of 155mph... Now we have more cars coming soon from BMW, Audi and all the French builders, this Euro-American electric mash up is poorly conceived and the company is obviously not viable as a manufacturer... Where is the dealer network? What about spare parts availability? When Top Gear tested the original Tesla sports car that this is a clone of, it's performance fell far short of what the builder claimed... I would rather stick to a major manufacturer and sleep easy knowing I had warranty, parts availability and dealer support.


D oing E verything T o R everse O ur I mminent T echnologies

Fritz Menzel

They had me right up until I saw the price. No way to justify the price based on the design. Where is Henry Ford when you need him?

James Pratt

C'mon, you guys. Give it up. It has an integrated Smartphone. I mean, integrated Smartphone! That has to account for something. Doesn't it?

Neil Larkins

Electric cars 'pose environmental threat'

Electric cars might pollute much more than petrol or diesel-powered cars, according to new research. Electric car factories also emitted more toxic waste than conventional car factories, their report in the Journal of Industrial Ecology said.

John Fitzgerald

re; James P Pratt

Producing cars with a practical means of locomotion.


What I really want to know is what happened to the Aptera. I was not sporty or super fast but I was planning on buying one. I even have the money in the bank.


re; NatalieEGH

The positive spin is. The fools who were supposed to be building it do not understand the concept of good enough. They kept redesigning it long after they had a production ready model until they ran out of money.

The negative spin is. The crooks kept making cosmetic changes until they could convincingly explain where the money went, and got away with defrauding their investors.

I lean towards the first but I wont be investing in anything that they do anyway.


Detroit discovered America again! Read this: "Now the “green monster” develops 600 horsepower, 900 Nm of torque, reaches 100 km/h from standstill in 3.3 sec and a top speed of 280 km/h."


McClaren is a better deal.

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