Shanghai: Does Detroit Electric SP:01 Pick Up where Tesla Left Off?

It’s a sign of the times – one of the fastest American production vehicles is now an electric. Yes, an ELECTRIC. As the world’s fossil fuel reserves slowly dwindle and global warming takes its toll, the newest mean green machine – the Detroit Electric SP:01, took center stage last week in Shanghai. Based on a Lotus platform, much like the now-defunct Tesla Roadster was, this SP:01 is aimed at environmentally-conscious buyers who don’t want to sacrifice spirited driving for sustainability.

Weighing in at a mere 2,354 pounds, the SP:01 certainly embodies the Lotus ethos of low weight and high power to create a sensational driving experience. A mid-mounted 201 horsepower electric engine powers this sports EV from 0-60 in a staggering 3.7 seconds, not to mention a respectable top speed of 155 mph. Detroit Electric engineers toiled over weight-saving measures for both the car’s body and battery pack, utilizing carbon wherever possible, and their efforts are obvious in the SP:01’s performance numbers.


How the SP:01 achieves such performance, however, is one of its most interesting features. Unlike traditional electric motors, the SP:01 creates a field of electrons around its rotor shaft, which subsequently spins to create forward motion in one of four gear ratios. This system can create instantaneous, head-snapping torque at virtually any speed, and, most importantly, makes shifting the manual transmission virtually unnecessary to maintaining momentum.

As if the SP:01 didn’t already offer enough, its Lithium-ion battery packs can store up to 37 kWh of charge, giving the car a maximum range of 190 miles between recharges. Such a range makes the SP:01 a highly usable car on a daily basis, with commutes back and forth to work and short road trips completely within reach. Detroit Electric claims they achieve such numbers through the SP:01’s clever power regeneration system: not only can the car reclaim lost kinetic energy from the brakes, but it can also recharge the motor when acceleration is interrupted by traffic conditions. All of this makes for a seamless, efficiency – if not also immensely gratifying – driving experience for anyone lucky enough to get behind the wheel of an SP:01.


The SP:01’s high quality looks and performance features certainly carry over to its sumptuous interior. Carbon fiber and rich leather upholstery abounds, creating an aura of luxury that caresses passengers. Even the SP:01’s infotainment system – named SAMI (Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment System) – works seamlessly with all major smartphones, much like many of today’s modern luxury vehicles. SAMI can play personal music, make phone calls, adjust interior climate and lighting settings, and can even locate the vehicle via satellite, all super convenient features that showcase the future of the smartphone-vehicle relationship.

If you’re willing to shell out the SP:01’s $135,000 base price, finding one on the market may prove quite a challenge. Only 2,500 examples will be built per year, and 35 of these have already sold in pre-production. Sales will only increase once the car is launched in earnest, so if you’re itching for the sporty, futuristic SP:01, act now. Expect US sales to begin this August.

Take a look at TFLcar’s review of the SP:01’s predecessor, the Tesla Roadster, below. Enjoy!