Thanks largely to the Detroit Big 3, the Detroit area has been the home of American auto manufacturing for more than a century. Recently, we've seen the emergence of a new generation of small-scale Detroit manufacturer. At the North American International Auto Show, VL Automotive flashed a sneak peek at its Corvette-powered, Fisker-bodied sports car, and now Detroit Electric is getting back into the business of EV manufacturing after a seven-decade absence.
Those not familiar with the history of the auto industry may be led to believe that electric vehicles are a 21st century phenomenon. But EVs have a much deeper history. In fact, the first electric-powered carriage was invented in the 1830s, some 50 years before Karl Benz built a gas-powered automobile.
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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the electric car experienced its original heyday. Electric cars held the first land speed records, provided taxi service in New York City, and were popular among consumers before getting replaced by the likes of the Ford Model T and other gas-driven automobiles.
Detroit Electric was one of the renowned names in this original electric car market. A brand of the Anderson Carriage Company, Detroit Electric began selling cars in 1907 and became a leader in the market, building both electric cars and trucks. It built close to 13,000 vehicles and sold cars to notables like Thomas Edison and Clara Ford, Henry Ford's wife.
The 1920s marked the time when the internal combustion engine (ICE) established its popularity and essentially pushed the electric car out of the market. Though Detroit Electric continued building cars until 1939, it did so in dwindling numbers.
With EVs back on the rise, Albert Lam, former Group CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars of England, revived the Detroit Electric name in 2008 with the help of ZAP. A year later the company broke away from ZAP and has kept busy researching and engineering its first car ever since. That car, a limited-edition two-seat electric sports car, will debut at the Shanghai Auto Show next month and begin selling in August. Detroit Electric hasn't revealed any hard facts, but it does mention bold styling, high performance, sporty handling and an "impressive range."
Beyond its first effort, teased in the photo above, the "recharged" Detroit Electric plans a family of cars, including two additional high-performance models scheduled for production next year. In Shanghai, it will also share the details of a "major partnership with a global carmaker."
Detroit Electric has established its headquarters on the 18th floor of the Fisher Building in downtown Detroit. It has also located a Michigan production facility that can support up to 2,500 cars annually. It plans to create 180 sales and manufacturing jobs over the next year and will use an "asset light" business model, focusing its resources on R&D and marketing.
We'll find out more information about its first car in about a month.
Source: Detroit ElectricView gallery - 2 images