RAC Cars News


Eelectric Sports Car From Detroit Electric Will Be Fastest In The World

By raccars Published

The electric sports car is as yet a niche market, struggling to make a splash among traditional candidates, but it is growing. Notable contestants so far have been the Tesla Roadster and Fisker Karma, but there's a new kid on the block claiming to be the world's fastest electric car.

The Detroit Electric SP:01 is the result of an attempt to revive an old motoring name that fell into disuse in 1939. In 2007 the Youngman Automotive Group from China, in partnership with Zap, a nascent electric car firm from California, decided to breathe new life back into the Detroit Electric brand, with design and technical aid from Lotus Engineering. By 2008, Lotus's Albert Lam became chairman and CEO of the new venture.

Under the circumstances, it's hardly surprising to find that the SP:01 is based upon the Lotus Elise, particularly as that car has become a kind of template for a number of vehicles in the burgeoning electric sports car field, including the SP:01's main rival, the Tesla Roadster.

However, the SP:01 has a few weapons in its armoury, including a 0-62mph speed of 3.7 seconds, on the way to a 155mph top speed. Its driving range is almost 190 miles for a charging time of 4.3 hours. The battery-powered two-seater runs on a Lotus Elise aluminium chassis with a carbon fibre bodyshell. It is powered by a 201bhp (150kW) electric motor situated behind the cockpit, which drives the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox. There is a six-speed gearbox available as an option.

After five years of development, it is to be produced in a limited run of 999 units, starting in August this year and to be produced and sold initially in the United States for a price of about $135,000 or £90,000. The company plans to expand its range, starting with two further performance vehicles tripping off the production line for the end of next year.

Rival, the Tesla Roadster, has been reasonably successful, selling more than 2,400 units since its release in 2008 and can boast longer range per charge than the SP:01. However, production halted in 2012 when the company's contract for components from Lotus ran out. An updated, Lotus-free version is expected next year. Apart from the Tesla, the SP:01's other main competition is the Fisker Karma, a good-looking and competent car which is hampered by a parent company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

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