Detroit Electric SP:01. The Tesla Roadster's Worst Nightmare?

For the last few years and mostly down to the fact its had no direct competition whatsoever Teslas Roadster has ruled the roost as the worlds premier all-electric two-seater sports car.

All that, though, is perhaps set to change in the next few months, as a new rival to the Roadster is on the horizon, in the form of the new Detroit Electric SP:01.

Whilst Tesla may still have the edge when it comes to conjuring catchy car names - Roadster undoubtedly rolls off the tongue easier than SP:01 does - Detroit Electric does seem to have pulled out all the stops when it comes to out-and-out speed.

Detroit Electric SP01 side

With claims of a155mph top speed and a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds (noticeably superior to the Teslas 124mph and 3.9 seconds respectively), Detroit Electric reckons this is enough to make the SP:01 the fastest pure-electric production car on the market by a comfortable margin.

This impressive speed when compared with the Tesla isnt necessarily down to the power the SP:01s electric motor produces the equivalent of only 201bhp. In comparison, the least potent Roadster variant has 248 all-EV brake horse powers to call upon.

Nor is it down to the four-speed manual transmission thats featured on the SP:01 (five-speed if you tick that box on the options list), as Detroit Electric claims theres little need to change gear.

Detroit Electric SP01 rear angle

Instead, its the 1,070kg Detroit Electrics extensive use of aluminium and carbon-fibre in the cars bodywork and Elise-derived platform (what is it with small-volume American car companies using the Lotus as a base for their sports cars!?) that gives the SP:01 the theoretical performance edge.

All of this does come in at a price Detroit Electric is quoting a $135,000 retail figure for the SP:01, which becomes approximately 106,000 at current exchange rates, when you add in our local taxes like VAT and the such.

Not only is that a helluva lot of dosh to splash out on a sports car, but its also more than what Tesla charges in the UK for the most expensive, 102,892 Roadster Sport, let alone the 87,945 boggo model.

Detroit Electric SP01 front

The SP:01 also falls short when it comes to a claimed maximum range, with Detroit Electric stating the car can go 190 miles on a single charge. In comparison, the Roadster can venture for an extra 21 miles in between charging stops.

At least it shouldnt take too long to recharge the SP:01 with the home charging pack, Detroit Electric claims it can take less than four-and-a-half hours to fully replenish the battery.

And, as is slowly becoming the case with electric cars nowadays, the SP:01 can also be used as an electric generator of sorts for your home, should there be a power cut or the fuse box blows.

Priced from: Approx 106,000 at current exchange rates, once UK taxes are added
Available from: N/A (Production starts August 2013)

Detroit Electric SP01 battery


Rationalising the Detroit Electric SP:01 isnt exactly the easiest task in the world. On the one hand, you could summarise it to be an expensive, Elise-sized sports car that costs more than its direct rival from Tesla, not to mention plenty of conventionally-propelled performance machines.

On the other, its always reassuring to hear of a new car company - even though the Detroit Electric name can trace its roots back to the pre-war years... - launching a new car, especially when the company appears to have enough cash in the coffers to stick around for a while.

Detroit Electric SP01 rear

Then theres the exclusivity that comes with the SP:01s limited production run of just 999 units, which some would argue is something you cant really put a price on. And, whilst Detroit Electric hasnt confirmed anything specific for the UK market, theres always the likelihood of the American firm shipping a few examples of its Tesla Roadster rival to the network of specialist retail partners on the other side of the Atlantic.

Hopefully well get more details on the SP:01 closer to when production starts later this year. From what weve got to go on so far, though, the new Detroit Electric is an interesting prospect that us here at carwow will certainly be keeping a closer eye on...

comments powered by Disqus