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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Drive Like Edison and Rockefeller: Buy a Detroit Electric!

In other automotive news, Detroit Electric, a brand resurrected from the early 20th century, announced yesterday that it will partner with Malaysia's Proton Holdings to produce an electric car priced between $24,000 and $26,000. That'll get you a daily range of 110 miles; the 200-mile model will run $4K–$5K more. If you need more range than that, you're quite the outlier, as the average American drives 33 miles a day.

The company plans to put the new Detroit Electric in showrooms in Europe and China in quarter 1 of 2010, then the U.S. in quarter 3.

The Detroit Electric could be the future... but it's also a trip back in time:

In early part of the 20th century, Detroit Electric was one of a number of electric car manufacturers. These cars drove only about 20 miles per hour and had limited range but were considered suitable for city use and, by some, easier to drive than gasoline cars, which required a manual start.

In 1900, 28 percent of all cars produced were electric, but 20 years later the industry was all but dead, according to Michael Brian Schiffer, author of a history of electric cars in the U.S. The original Detroit Electric went out of business in the 1930s [Martin LaMonica, "Detroit Electric Resurrected as $25,000 Electric Car," CNet News, 2009.03.30].

The original Detroit Electric won customers like John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Thomas Edison. Perhaps Chrysler should skip Fiat and merge with Detroit Electric; then we might see our modern captains of industry and invention buzzing merrily down the thoroughfare in Detroit Electrics next year!


  1. [Holy cow! Are those tracks on the left where you jumped off the front porch? :-)]

  2. I guess I don't see why the hoopla about electric cars. Yes, they save on gas/oil. But they take electricity, which is produced by coal (hated by greenies) or nuclear (also hated by greenies). Electricity doesn't just appear, even though we all live like it does.

    I would be all for electric cars if proven to be cheaper to run than buying gas. Are they? And what would happen if enough electric cars are used that there isn't enough electricity to go around? Just questions. Have you researched this side of the issue?

    People are looking to use cars the most economically way possible. But the present adminsitration, and you Cory, don't seem to see saving money as an option. You only see green, which is a hugely hyped issue to redistribute wealth by pushing cap and trade, alternative energy, etc.

  3. Just answers:

    --"An electric car run on conventional electricity from a coal-fired generator produces a third of the emissions of a conventional petrol car (64g of CO2 per km compared to 176g CO2 per km) and just over half the emissions of a diesel or hybrid car (104g CO2/km)."

    --A 2006 DoE study showed "'off-peak' electricity production and transmission capacity could fuel 70% percent of the U.S. light-duty vehicle (LDV) fleet, if they were plug-in hybrid electrics." (We still have to be sensible and not all plug in our cars during lunch.)

    --If everybody in the U.S. went electric, we'd need to boost electricity production 25%, which could be done with renewables.

    --Electric cars would provide a huge storage reservoir that would help utilities stabilize generation, avoid brownouts, operate more efficiently, and adopt more solar and wind power.

    --Don't forget, solar and wind won't have the same potential for economy-disrupting price spikes as oil... unless the Russkies deploy a giant umbrella over the U.S.

    --On saving money: ask my wife. She'll tell you I generally see saving money as the only option. I didn't even want to go into debt to build this house. But sometimes my lovely wife can convince even me that we have to make an investment in something that will provide some long-term good.

  4. Driving an electric car... would it short out in the rain? SHOCKING!!!


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