Detroit Electric and Geely To Jointly Develop EVs for Chinese market
Detroit Electric and Geely Automotive yesterday announced in Shanghai a plan to co-develop electric vehicles and powertrain components for the Chinese market. They expect to start selling the first vehicle, under Geely's Emgrand brand, in 2014.
The announcement answered questions about how Detroit Electric, an unproven company, could introduce its SP:01 electric sports car, and then build additional vehicles about one year later—as it had promised earlier this month. The backing of a major automaker makes the plan more feasible, although still very optimistic.
Years in the Making
The agreement with Geely follows three years of feasibility studies and joint development. The companies selected the Emgrand EC7—a nondescript mid-level luxury brand launched by Geely in 2009—as the first base vehicle. The vehicle will be named the EC7-EV and will be co-branded with a "Detroit Electric Technology" badge.
The EC7-EV will be offered in two driving ranges: 100 miles and 160 miles. The car will offer a 0-60 time under eight seconds, and a top speed of around 125 miles per hour. The companies forecast building 3,000 cars in the first 12 months, and to grow sales in China to 30,000 cars a year within three years.
The development teams have been working together on EV powertrain components, including electric motors, vehicle management systems, advanced thermo-managed battery packs, battery management systems and a twin-speed high-torque gearbox. The partnership includes a joint venture company to manufacture the critical EV powertrain components and associated parts.
Back in the U.S.A.
In the United States, Detroit Electric has a facility in Wayne Country, Mich. which it said has a capacity to build 2,500 cars a year. Its goal for the SP:01 is to start by making an odd 999 units a year.
In other words, Detroit Electric has excess manufacturing capacity in Michigan, and a plan to build additional car models starting next year. The joint agreement with Geely creates manufacturing capability in both China and Michigan.
This combination suggests that, rather than manufacturing cars from the ground up, Detroit Electric will import car bodies manufactured by Geely, and assemble electric powertrain components—a model followed by other marginal start-up companies, such as Coda Automotive and GreenTech Automotive.
The hype from company executives also echoes what those ill-fated EV start-ups said in their early days. "This is a very significant step in the development of the Detroit Electric business and is testimony to our innovative technology and engineering capabilities," said Albert Lam, chairman and chief executive of Detroit Electric.
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