Detroit Electric

Detroit Electric and Proton Holdings Berhad signed an agreement today for a supply and manufacturing agreement related to Detroit Electric’s upcoming range of electric vehicles. Detroit Electric is manned by ex-Lotus Engineering CEO Albert Lam and used to have a joint venture with ZAP and Youngman which didn’t happen.

Interestingly Detroit Electric’s ex-partner Youngman is Proton’s customer in China, where it buys the Proton Persona and GEN2 to rebadge as its own cars. Detroit Electric’s deal with Proton is similiar. It will buy the Proton Persona and Proton GEN2 from Proton to fit with an electric motor instead of the CamPro engine, and rebadge them as the Detroit Electric e63 and the Detroit Electric e46 respectively.

The deal is expected to take in RM 2 billion of revenue for Proton over the next 4 to 5 years, with expected volume to be 40,000 cars a year, potentially to grow up to 100,000 cars a year, if Detroit Electric does well in marketing its EVs. They will work with Proton engineers and assemblers to optimise the assembly line. The cars will be built alongside the regular Persona and GEN2 at Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant. The installation of the electric motor and battery and etc will be done off line.

Detroit Electric e63

Detroit Electric said it picked Proton as its partner after discussing with a few others because it allowed Proton an easy entry into the market. Given that Lotus Engineering, the company that Albert used to work for, had a part to play in the development of the GEN2 and Persona should clear up any doubts that Detroit has with the capability of the car’s chassis.

More details on the cars to come in a post following this, but the specifications for the cars seem impressive at first sight but because of an extended teh tarik session between the VIPs there, the press conference was extremely delayed and we ended up having less than half an hour to ask questions, so we’re not sure if these specs are finalised or not. If they are finalised, looks good.

The first production cars will hit the road in Q1 or Q2 2010, and target markets are UK, Europe and China. No mention of Malaysia, apparently that is still under study :( Detroit Electric are targetting markets with incentives for zero emission vehicles or at least fines and taxes for polluting vehicles.

Detroit Electric e46

A US market entry is expected towards end-Q3 2010 or beginning Q4 2010 because of the additional work needed to get the Persona and GEN2 homologated in the US. Apparently Detroit Electric will be paying for this, so no expenditure from Proton in that sense.

Detroit Electric is also exploring the possibilities of locating its battery and electric motor plant here. Albert Lam says Malaysia is an attractive place for them because of the availability of engineers as well as the relatively low labour costs.

Coming up next – some specs of the cars. In the meanwhile look after the jump to watch some videos that Detroit Electric gave us.

Detroit Electric Press Conference (Part 1 of 2)

Detroit Electric Press Conference (Part 2 of 2)