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Schneider said ZAP will demonstrate a Detroit Electric production vehicle next January at the National Auto Dealers Association’s annual convention in New Orleans. That car will go on sale in Q2 (April to June) next year, he said, and has already met “about 90 percent” of the certification requirements to be sold in the US, including crash testing and other safety requirements. (As an electric, it would be exempt from emissions testing.)
It’s a short but tumultuous history for a very old brand with a new lease on life. In less than a year, the company’s ownership has changed, it has shown at least four vehicles, and it plans to sell 5,000 vehicles—of the first year’s total of 30,000—in the United States.
Meanwhile Back in Malaysia
At a press event at a Proton facility in Malaysia, the company offered test drives in three cars converted to electric power: a Proton Savvy subcompact, a Proton Pesona sedan, and a Lotus Elise sports car. The vehicles will use lithium ion batteries, but the secret sauce is an electric motor, invented by chief scientist Frits van Breemen—said to be “four to 12 times lighter” than existing motors—giving it a claimed power-to-weight ratio of 5 watts per kilogram.
Oh, and that converted Lotus Elise? Schneider said it will be manufactured at either Lotus’s plant in Hethel, England, or a plant in Malaysia, in line with gas-engine Elises. The two cars will look the same, but electric versions will carry Detroit Electric badges, while the gasoline originals will continue to be called Lotus. (No Lotus official was available for comment when this article was posted.)
How do other electric-vehicle makers view this latest incarnation of Detroit Electric? Tesla Motors, for instance, might view an electrified Lotus Elise as disturbingly similar to its own electric Roadster—which has some components in common with the Elise. And Lotus played a role in engineering development for the Roadster.
Tesla marketing director Daryl Siry, however, told HybridCars.com simply, “We are not concerned about them as a competitor.”