Upstart Automaker Rolls Out Legal Clone of Tesla& s Supercar …

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Detroit Electric SP:01

Upstart Automaker Rolls Out Clone of Tesla s Supercar

looks familiar. Photo: Electric

See if this sounds A startup led by someone who wants to the automotive industry has unveiled a car with an aluminum chassis from the Lotus Elise, a fiber body to reduce and an electric motor with performance.

No, it s not the Tesla Roadster. It s the Electric SP:01, a new car from a new you ve never heard of. And while the was done at the company s Michigan HQ, else can be traced to Silicon


The concept, business plan, roll-out and overall direction exactly duplicates Tesla model.

Yes, this is all legal.

The SP:01 is the brainchild of Lam, a former Apple in China who also served as CEO of Engineering Group and executive of Lotus Cars of England buying the rights to the historic Electric brand a few years

Less juice, less same performance. | Photo: Electric

Lam, the company s CEO and wanted to revive Detroit lined up some funding Chinese investors and announced the this week.

It s not rocket Lam told Wired. You know you can get away with [in an electric

What you can get away with is everything Tesla Motors has done.

Let s start with the Based on the remarkably nimble and lightweight Lotus Elise/Exige, Lam and his engineering crew swapped the gasoline engine for an asynchronous AC motor developed by AC Propulsion — by the way, provided the motor used in, you guessed it, the Tesla

The drivetrain isn t quite as potent at the s, with just 201 horsepower to the s 288, but it s got 166 pound-feet of torque. down on power, the acceleration up exactly with the Roadster thanks to improved battery and a lighter curb weight. military grade lithium-polymer packs doll out 37 kilowatt-hours of

All that oomph, and a curb of 2,354 pounds (370 lighter than the Tesla), let the deliver a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 — exactly the same as the Tesla Sport.

The SP:01 falls is range, though. The Roadster, packed 53 kWh of juice in a 900-pound was good for 200+ miles. Electric s copycat will get 150 to according to Lam.

The one thing Detroit Electric didn t from the Roadster is its transmission. of a single-speed gearbox, the SP:01 your choice of a two-speed, gearbox for maximum acceleration and a top of 155 mph, or a four- or five-speed complete with clutch

We just want to put the fun back in Lam said of the manual boxes. drivers especially like the feel of selecting manual

Charging claims are ambitious, Detroit Electric saying a 240-volt outlet delivering 32 will top up the batteries in just four and half hours. that down to a 13-amp and you’re looking at something to eight hours.

For a base of $135,000 you don’t get a stereo, but a smartphone app that handles music, lighting and charge And Detroit Electric says the has a “bi-directional charge and discharge” that can power your

Production is set to begin in August, and the car be built in Michigan. Just 999 are half of which will be in the U.S. according to Lam, allows the Detroit Electric to get a waiver for the lack of a smart (one of the reasons you can t get the new Lotus in the states).

People will always us to Tesla.

Detroit Electric SP:01

But that’s only the In yet another imitation of Tesla, Electric claims to be developing “a new of all-electric production cars.” includes a sedan and hatchback set to be late next year. are to begin in early 2015.

The will be class-leading in terms of Lam said. Both acceleration and top it will be the leader, not just in an car, but when compared to all sedans.

All of this, too, awfully familiar. Tesla CEO Elon Musk mapped out the route for his company: Build a high-powered electric supercar for early adopters, then a mid-priced, medium-sized electric to market, followed by a high-volume, vehicle for the masses. Detroit is following the same path, but right from the sports car to a sedan, which Lam claims cost somewhere in the neighborhood of when it hits the market in

Lam is no stranger to the electric vehicle though he doesn t have experience actually building When he acquired the Detroit brand in 2008, he partnered ZAP, the ill-fated and remarkably electric vehicle manufacturer in Santa Rosa, California. Lam the relationship lasted a scant months and ended when he he and the two guys running ZAP have different goals and business

Detroit Electric is still on the ZAP website. but Lam says the two companies no relationship.

It s nothing. Zero, he

After several calls to ZAP s we eventually reached an executive for the company who said, ZAP is no longer with [Detroit Electric].

As for the obvious parallels to Tesla Lam isn t worried. People will compare us to Tesla, he said. And he s with that.

As for Musk, that s another story. about his take on Detroit and its new car, Musk said a spokeswoman, “no comment.”

No surprise.

The all fiber body work betrays the SP:01 s Lotus | Photo: Detroit Electric

Detroit Electric SP:01
Detroit Electric SP:01
Detroit Electric SP:01

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