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Resurrected Detroit Electric to introduce new sports car on April 3

March 20, 2013|By Ronald D. White
  • This silhouette teaser is as much as the resurrected Detroit Electric car company is willing to show of its new two-seat electric sports car. The car will be introduced in Detroit on April 3 and unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in China later in the month.
This silhouette teaser is as much as the resurrected Detroit Electric car… (Detroit Electric )

Detroit Electric, the most resilient and longest-lived brand of the nation's first electric car companies, has been resurrected and plans to introduce a new sports car in the Motor City on April 3.

The company's first offering has been described by company officials as a high-end, two-seat sports car collectible that may retail for around $135,000.

The final visual design of the car has been a tightly kept secret, but spokespersons for the new Detroit Electric have said that the external sheet metal will resemble the Lotus Elise sports car.

The Detroit Electric power train will be manufactured at a yet to be released location in Wayne County, outside of Detroit, the company said.

The company said it plans to have a production capacity of 2,500 vehicles annually.

”We are proud to become the fourth car manufacturer born out of Detroit, and the first to manufacture a pure electric sports car from Michigan,” said Don Graunstadt, chief executive for North America Operations at Detroit Electric.

“We are committed to doing our part for this great revival of Detroit through innovation, entrepreneurship and determination – what we like to call ‘Detroit 2.0,'" Graunstadt added.

It's a project that didn't exactly happen overnight.

The Detroit Electric brand was revived in 2008 by Albert Lam, former Group chief executive of the Lotus Engineering Group and executive director of Lotus Cars of England.

Lam's goal, the company said, was to produce an electric vehicle that "seamlessly integrates refined aesthetics, innovative technology and superior handling and performance."

Wall Street analysts said that Detroit Electric would not be in direct competition with other high-end electric car manufacturers, such as Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, at least initially.

With its first offering, Detroit Electric may be positioning itself to fill a void that Tesla left behind when it stopped production of its Roadster, analysts said.

Tesla manufactured the Roadster between 2008 and 2011.

"The Tesla Roadster demonstrated there is a market for this kind of car," said Jefferies and Co. analyst Elaine Kwei. "They might be picking up where Tesla left off. There is some potential for it to become an appealing niche product."

Kwei added, "Tesla is done with those cars [its Roadster], but there is still demand for them."

Potentially a very lucrative demand.

Tesla roadsters up for sale on EBay, for example, ranged from a "buy it now" low of $59,995 to a high of $93,388.

The old Detroit Electric was established in 1907, during an era in which the electric car commanded as much as 23% to 25% of the nation's automotive sales.

Detroit Electric owners included Thomas Edison, Mamie Eisenhower and John D. Rockefeller Jr.

It produced electric vehicles until 1939, long after virtually every early U.S. electric car manufacturer had shut its doors.

The new Detroit Electric has been elaborately and carefully marketed.

On Tuesday, the company announced that its headquarters will be in the historic Fisher Building in downtown Detroit.

The company plans to formally unveil its sports car at the Shanghai Motor Show next month.

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