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Détroit Électrique Not ‘Magnifique’

The electric car market, which is already saturated with expensive creations only a very small percentage of the population can purchase, has now become SUPER-saturated.

by
Becky Graebner

Bio

May 16, 2013 - 9:00 am

Government loans, grants from the Department of Energy, and private parties, pooling money in hopes of creating the next “Apple” of autos have flooded the “green vehicle” market with a motley crew of “earth-saving” cars. There was Fisker. There is Tesla — as well as an array of “EV” models added to mass-market brand portfolios… everyone and their cousin is jumping on the wagon to create an electric car. In the midst of this scramble, a historical EV maker has been revived.

It’s almost been two months since the new and improved Detroit Electric was relaunched to the world. Albert Lam, former Group CEO of Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars in England, is the mastermind behind this historic company’s revival. The original “Detroit Electric” (also Anderson Carriage Company) produced electric cars from 1907-1939 but eventually went bankrupt due to the stock market crash of 1929 and its inability to keep up with the battery’s main competitor: the combustion engine.

While the American dream supports Detroit Electric’s pursuit of happiness (and success), I am not 100% sold on what D.E.’s niche will be…  what will make them stand out compared to its competition? The start-up EVs tend to be super-cars on a veggie diet… or electric sports cars.  Tesla has its sporty Model S and now we have, essentially, an electric Lotus Elise in the Detroit Electric SP.01. Keep in mind, buyers also have another luxury option in the electric BMW ActiveE.

The hybrid super-car competitor for Tesla and Detroit Electric, Fisker, is currently exploring bankruptcy and Tesla just made a profit (after 10 years). Do we really need another electric sports car?  It sounds like something isn’t working… and it think it’s the price-tag.

Base price for the Tesla Model S with the lowest kWh battery option (40 kWh) is $52,400. Want a better battery, get ready to pay a higher price. The Model S 85kWh battery option starts at $87,400. The base Fisker Karma Hybrid starts at $102,000…with the top model starting at $115,000.  With Fisker failing to woo buyers with a low $100k price tag, I am very intrigued to see how many SP.01s are sold.  The SP.01′s price tag starts at $135,000…

Mr. Lam says that he has “learned from others’ mistakes” and is determined to be a success. I’m not convinced.  Americans need reliable cars to fit growing families and their trusty canines, tow campers, and haul bikes… not two-seater sports cars that cost almost as much as a college education.

Only time will tell if it is “lights out” for Detroit Electric — again.

Becky Graebner moved to the east coast from Wisconsin in 2011. She is still a rabid Badger and Packer fan, although she does support the Caps in hockey. She enjoys Formula 1 and Indycar. She likes the eastern seaboard but does miss track days with friends and family at Elkhart Lake and the Milwaukee Mile. Her favorite drivers are Kenny Brack and Robby Gordon.

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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I doubt their production numbers are huge, and I think there is a market for these cars among the true green believers. If they have a 100 grand to plop down on a car odds are they already have a high end gas guzzler in their garage so why not a Tesla status symbol?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Just as in any specialty car market, one day, really soon there will be few, if any buyers for this stuff.
There are only so many who 'see the need' and want to bring the range restrictions, recharging time spans and cold weather range reductions onto themselves. These cars are in effect 'toys', and really big ones, at that.
Test this claim and take each and every State and Federal tax credit off the table and tell all who'll listen that they're never, ever coming back.
Then watch, as Holding Lots get full to the brim with these Hummers...........and then some more, besides.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm am confoozded Becky: In your previous article about Tesla you were effusive in your praise of Tesla, and now you are critical (and rightly so) of the hyper-expensive electric car market in general, including Tesla. I am scratching my head . . . . . ???
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have been following your comments--i hope i can clear up some of the confusion. I am a critic of EVs-and green cars in general-but i also try to be optimistic...maybe SOME DAY these cars will actually be something real people can drive/want to drive. Right now, i don't think they are "drive-able" --but I do think the Tesla looks cool and normal (hence page two of that piece underlining their "normal" design).
Compared to the other start-up EVs, Tesla is, surprisingly, "doing well" (turning some profit, is catching a lot of attention, and seems to be the the "EV it girl" of the moment)--and i give them some points for that...hence the praise.

It wasn't all enthusiasm though: "The Tesla Model S is still very expensive and does require some more infrastructure planning in order to make it a serious “every-day American driver--"

Thanks for always reading, I was Don Rodrigo!



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the reply and clarification Becky. And you can call me "Don." :-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
no problem! :)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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