Détroit Électrique Not 'Magnifique'
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.