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China’s Geely and Detroit Electric have announced at the Shanghai Motor Show that the two companies have entered into a strategic partnership to co-develop electric vehicles and related electric drive systems for the Chinese market. The first fruit of the partnership will go on sale in 2014.

After three years of feasibility studies, they have selected Geely’s Emgrand EC7 sedan as base. The EC7-EV will be co-branded with a ‘Detroit Electric – Technology’ badge and will initially be sold primarily to business users and public-sector organisations. The companies are forecasting sales of around 3,000 units in the first year, growing to 30,000 in three years’ time.

The EC7-EV will offer both medium-range (165 km per charge) and long-range options (approx 258 km per charge). Equipped with Detroit Electric’s twin-speed high-torque gearbox, the car is set to do 0-100 km/h under eight seconds and a top speed of over 200 km/h.

“I am confident that we can become a leader of pure electric vehicles in the Chinese market within the next 18 months. I am sure it is going to be a world class product,” said Albert Lam, chairman and group CEO of Detroit Electric.

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If you’ve heard of Lam and Detroit Electric before, it’s probably because of an aborted collaboration with Proton. Back in 2008, DE announced that it was looking to work with Proton to make electric cars. The two then signed a supply and manufacturing agreement in March 2009, where it was to buy the Persona and Gen2, replace the CamPro engine with an electric motor drivetrain, and rebadge the cars as the Detroit Electric e63 and e46 models.

The project never took off. Later, DE also inked a deal with Chinese automaker Dongfeng to use its battery-electric drivetrain technology for the latter’s models, after which things went quiet, again.

At Shanghai, Detroit Electric showed the SP:01 electric sports car, based on a modified Lotus Elise. The SP:01 is on a limited run of 999 vehicles, built at DE’s new facility in Michigan, with cars sold worldwide starting from end-August. Finally taking off or another false start?