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