The Big Car Database

Detroit Electric

Detroit Electric (1907–1939, revived in 2008) was an electric car produced by the Anderson Electric Car Company in Detroit, Michigan.

The company built 13,000 electric cars from 1907 to 1939. The Detroit Electric brand was revived again in 2008 to produce modern all-electric cars by Detroit Electric Holding Ltd. of the Netherlands.

Former type

Automobile Manufacturing
Industry Automotive
Genre Electric automobiles
Founded 1907 (historic)
Defunct 1939 (historic)
Headquarters Detroit, Michigan, United States

Area served

United States
Products Vehicles
Automotive parts
Parent Anderson Electric Car Company (1907); Detroit Electric Holding Ltd. (2008)


Anderson had previously been known as the Anderson Carriage Company (until 1911), producing carriages and buggies since 1884. Production of the electric automobile, powered by a rechargeable lead acid battery, began in 1907. For an additional US$600, an Edison nickel-iron battery was available from 1911 to 1916. The cars were advertised as reliably getting 80 miles (130 km) between battery recharging, although in one test a Detroit Electric ran 211.3 miles (340.1 km) on a single charge. Top speed was only about 20 mph (32 km/h), but this was considered adequate for driving within city or town limits at the time.

The Detroit Electric was mainly sold to women drivers and physicians who desired the dependable and immediate start without the physically demanding hand cranking of the engine that was required with early internal combustion engine autos. A statement of the car's refinement was subtly made to the public through its design which included the first use of curved window glass in a production automobile, an expensive and complex feature to produce.

The company production was at its peak in the 1910s selling around 1000 to 2000 cars a year. Towards the end of the decade, the Electric was helped by the high price of gasoline during World War I. In 1920, the name of the Anderson company was changed to "The Detroit Electric Car Company" as the car maker separated from the body business (it became part of Murray Body) and the motor/controller business (Elwell-Parker).

As improved internal combustion engine automobiles became more common and inexpensive, sales of the Electric dropped in the 1920s, but the company stayed in business producing Detroit Electrics until after the stock market crash of 1929. The company filed for bankruptcy, but was acquired and kept in business on a more limited scale for some years, building cars in response to special orders. The last Detroit Electric was shipped on February 23, 1939, (though they were still available until 1942), but in its final years the cars were manufactured only in very small numbers. Between 1907 to 1939 a total of 13,000 electric cars were built.

Notable people who owned Detroit Electrics cars included Thomas Edison, Charles Proteus Steinmetz, Mamie Eisenhower, andJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. who had a pair of Model 46 roadsters. Clara Ford, the wife of Henry Ford, drove Detroit Electrics from 1908, when Henry bought her a Model C coupe with a special child seat, through the late teens. Her third car was a 1914 Model 47brougham.

Detroit Electrics can be seen in various automobile museums, such as the Belgian AutoWorld Museum in Brussels, and theMuseum Autovision in Altlußheim, Germany. A restored and operational Detroit Electric, owned by Union College, is located in theEdison Tech Center in Schenectady, NY.


The Detroit Electric brand was revived in 2008 by Albert Lam, former Group CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars of England,with a vision to produce premium-quality pure electric vehicles “that seamlessly integrate refined aesthetics, innovative technology and superior handling and performance.”

Detroit Electric was relaunched to the world on 19 March 2013, with the signing of its new U.S. office in the Fisher Building in Detroit, Michigan. The SP:01, the first model, is scheduled to be released in 2016.

Detroit Electric SP.01

The Detroit Electric SP.01 two-seat all-electric roadster is Detroit Electric's first product and sales were scheduled to begin in the United States in August 2013 at a price starting at US$135,000. Production was delayed because, as of August 2013, the company had not been able to secure an agreement for a manufacturing facility. The SP.01, like the Tesla Roadster, will be built on a Lotus Elise aluminum chassis with carbon fiber body, and production will be limited to 999 units. The SP.01 prototypes are being assembled in Europe. The commercial version was to have been built at a factory in Wayne County, Michigan, but Detroit Electric announced it will initially be built in the Netherlands. In June 2014 Detroit Electric announced that the SP.01 would be built in Royal Leamington Spa, England, with their Netherlands facility handling the sales and marketing side of the operation.

The SP.01 will have a total weight of 2,354 lb (1,068 kg), and it will be powered by a 150 kW (201 bhp) electric motor mounted behind the passenger cabin that delivers 225 N·m (166 lb-ft) of torque. The electric motor drives the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission, and a fifth and sixth gear ratios in the gearbox are redundant and available as an option. Top speed is 155 mph (249 km/h) and its time from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 100 kph) is 3.7 seconds, the same as the Tesla Roadster. The electric car will have a 37 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack capable of delivering a range of 180 mi (290 km) under the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) standard. A 7.7 kWh home charging unit will fully charge the car in 4.3 hours, a charging through a standard 13A power source will take 8 hours.

The first production unit was exported to China in February 2016 to be used as a demonstrator.


Unique to the SP:01 is its very own thermal management system developed in-house by Detroit Electric. As opposed to liquid coolant, Detroit Electric has opted for conditioned air to cool and heat the battery pack as this not only lengthens the battery life, but also makes the entire drive system lighter and safer in the event of a crash. Furthermore, the SP:01 has a telemetry-link to the company's central portal so the health of the battery packs and electric powertrain can continuously by monitored from anywhere around the world.

Detroit Electric is the first to deploy smartphone technology to manage a complete car infotainment system, controlled by their very own Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment(‘SAMI’) App available on Android. SAMI will provide access to all auxiliary functions ranging from music player, satellite navigation, regenerative braking adjustment and vehicle systems status, such as the level of battery charge, range to recharge and other vehicle telemetry. Via GSM, SAMI will also be able to detect the location of where one has parked their car.

Exclusive to the SP:01 is a bi-directional charge technology in which the company coins as ‘360 Powerback’. A patented home charging and power back-up unit, this bi-directional technology will revolutionize the way electric cars are perceived and utilized in the future. Should there be a power failure in the home, working remotely, SAMI can communicate with the SP:01 to detect the loss in current and feed electricity from the car’s battery back into the home (i.e. ‘Vehicle to Home’). In the near future, the potential to earn money by selling the SP:01’s battery storage capacity back to the grid is also an option (i.e. ‘vehicle to grid’). Charging other electric vehicles nearby is also made possible with 360 Powerback (i.e. Vehicle to Vehicle). As purported by Mr. Albert Lam, CEO and Chairman of Detroit Electric Holdings, "The SP:01 is more than just a car, it is a mobile energy unit."



We never spam!