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Detroit Electric reveals final SP:01 styling

Tweak easy: Detroit Electric has refined the design of its SP:01 EV sportscar into a fastback styled coupe but the Lotus connection remains obvious.

First look at production Detroit Electric SP:01 EV sportscar ahead of 2015 launch

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Detroit Electric logo29 Oct 2014

HISTORIC EV brand Detroit Electric has put the finishing touches to the design of its SP:01 sportscar as it prepares to start building the battery-powered coupe in Britain later this year – more than 12 months later than originally planned.

To go on sale in Asia, Europe and North America from next year, the Lotus Exige-based SP:01 has morphed into a fastback coupe, with a large rear windscreen flanked by airvents occupying what was previously open space bookended by Elise-style flying buttresses.

The horizontally stacked tail-lights remain but a spoiler has been added to the deck and the rear bumper contours have been tidied up, with the central section plunging into the diffuser in similar style to a Ferrari 458 – although of course without that car’s triple tailpipes.

It results in a more assertive, muscular stance than the slightly awkward and upright rear three-quarter view of the prototype unveiled at the Shanghai motor show in April 2013, while the side-on view stays faithful, save for a vent-like decoration behind the front wheels.

At the front, Elise headlights remain, as does the majority of the prototype’s bumper styling (apart from a blanked off section above the splitter that is now a mesh grille) but the previously unadorned bonnet, while maintaining a large black insert in front of the windscreen, has gained a pair of large vents.

Detroit Electric says these changes to the front of the car improve air-flow to the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

The company optimised the SP:01’s design using computational fluid dynamics analysis, claiming the optimised airflow reduces turbulence, delivers improved on-limit handling and ensures “rewarding and accessible dynamics”.

The 1175kg SP:01’s electric drivetrain produces 210kW of power and 280Nm of torque, drawing current from a 37kWh battery rated to deliver a 288km range.

It all adds up to claimed performance figures of 0-60mph (0-97km/h) in 3.7 seconds and a 249km/h top speed, which Detroit Electric says make the SP:01 the world’s fastest EV.

For comparison, the now discontinued Tesla Roadster weighed 1238kg, produced 215kW and 370Nm (400Nm in Sport guise) to achieve 0-97km/h in 3.9s (Sport: 3.7s) and a 201km/h top speed. However its battery range was almost 100km greater than the SP:01 at 380km.

Under the skin, the battery packs occupy a composite casing that becomes an integral part of the chassis – otherwise known as a stressed member – like the engines of Formula 1 cars.

Detroit Electric says this “improves the SP:01’s torsional rigidity and provides an extremely robust barrier to protect the batteries from punctures in the event of an accident”.

Californian EV maker Tesla also uses the stressed member principle for the battery packs of its cars – just one of several similarities shared by Detroit Electric.

Like the Roadster model that got Tesla off the ground, the SP:01 is Lotus-based and will be sold in limited quantities, while Detroit Electric readies more EVs, including a 2+2 supercar and a sedan for launch in 2016.

Detroit Electric’s production facility in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, is close to the headquarters of Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin, while its global headquarters are on the 18th floor of the Fisher Building in downtown Detroit.

The company originally planned to build cars in Detroit but Detroit Electric chairman and CEO Albert Lam – who revived the 107 year-old brand in 2008 – said the regulatory process had taken longer than expected, although the sedan will be engineered, developed and assembled in Michigan.

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