UPDATE: Detroit Electric press conference in Malaysia – read more about Detroit Electric and our experience driving the Detroit Electric Lotus Elise and the Detroit Electric Proton Persona.

Albert LamWe may see electric versions of the Proton Savvy, Proton GEN2 and even a possible Proton MPV very soon, as evident from this recent revelation. They won’t be Proton-badged though – the world will know them as Detroit Electric cars. The Detroit Electric was an electric car produced by the Anderson Electric Car Company in Detroit between 1907 to 1939. It had a top speed of 32km/h and a maximum range of about 130km, though driving it in an efficient manner scored a record of 340.1km on a single charge.

The new Detroit Electric will be a joint venture between ZAP and China’s Youngman. Ex-Lotus Engineering top man Albert Lam (shown top left) will chair the new Detroit Electric venture. Its first cars will roll off the production line in summer 2009.

Now here’s where we find out some of Detroit Electric’s cars will be based off Proton bodies. Detroit Electric cars will be brought into the European market by a Dutch consortium called Electric Cars Europe (ECE). Their website lists a couple of models like an electric version of the Lotus Elise and an electric Volkswagen Golf.

But the Detroit Electric range is also listed: a four model line-up that consists of a subcompact, a mid-sized sedan/hatchback, the Zap alias, and a full-sized SUV called the ZAP-X, which we all know is an electric-powered Lotus APX.

Detroit Electric Proton SavvyTo the left you will find the information on the compact electric car that Detroit Electric will offer. It is quite obviously a Proton Savvy with no badge on the front.

According to the preliminary info, the Detroit Electric Proton Savvy will be launched in the 4th quarter of 2009. It will be powered by a 30kW (40hp) electric motor that’s backed by lithium-ion batteries.

Range is about 300km, and I am not sure if my translation is right but it appears that the vehicle can be charged up in between 2.5 hours to 7 hours, depending on the power supply. Estimated price is 22,491 Euros, or about RM112,188.00!

Detroit Electric Proton GEN2The next car is described as a mid-sized sedan/hatchback. The silhouette looks like the Proton GEN2, except it seems to have a very radically styled front end. Two door handles on the side can be seen, showing that it has at least 4 doors, or 5 if its a hatch like the GEN2.

This larger Detroit Electric Proton GEN2 probably has a larger battery so it can go further with a maximum range of 550km, and on to a top speed of 190km/h thanks to its powerful 150kW (200 horsepower) electric motor. Charging time is listed as being between 3.5 hours to 10 hours, again depending on the source of power.

The Detroit Electric mid-sized sedan possibly and likely to be based on the GEN2 is expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2010 and will retail for 29,251 Euros, or RM145,599.00!

Detroit Electric ZAP-XThe final model (other than the ZAP Alias which I will not be talking about here) is the Detroit Electric ZAP-X based on ZAP’s ZAP-X concept which is in turn based on the Lotus APX, a 5-seater MPV developed by Lotus. Proton’s MPV could possibly be some variation of this concept by Lotus.

The Detroit Electric ZAP-X will be a monster, featuring 400kW (536 horsepower) of power and travelling up to 225km/h. Sounds like a BMW X6 competitor to me. It takes less than 4 seconds to get up to 100km/h.

Range is expected to be about 525km which indicates rather large lithium ion batteries but no figures were given on how long it would take to charge them up.

An expected launching date for the ZAP-X is the 4th quarter of 2010, and the Detroit Electric MPV/SUV vehicle will cost 71,400 Euros, or an astronomical RM355,400!

The usage of Proton cars to provide the base chassis for this project actually makes sense as Youngman (one of the partners in Detroit Electric, the other is ZAP) already has a relationship with Proton for it to supply left hand drive versions of the Proton GEN2 for rebadging in China as the Europestar RCR. Initially the orders will be CBU, but recently CKD kits have already started being shipped to China for local assembly there.

In fact, the faint sketch you see used to depict the Detroit Electric mid-sized sedan may be what a facelifted Europestar RCR will look like once the CKD operations in China are running smoothly and Youngman decides to give the Chinese GEN2 its own styling.

The technology used in these models are probably too expensive which is why the prices are quite high, making these cars far out of reach from the mass market here. It would be interesting to see if anyone brings them in here, perhaps Proton themselves.