While Geely, the Chinese automotive company, has been carrying out a number of feasibility studies with Detroit Electric for over three years now, before this week there was no formal partnership arrangement between the two companies. However, that has all changed today with the announcement that the two companies will join forces to release an array of vehicles into the Chinese electric car market from 2014 onwards.
This is a very big step for Detroit Electric, which has effectively risen from the ashes of a company which is over 100 years old. What does this mean for the company?
While many partnerships in the automobile industry seem to be rather cosmetic and rather loose, the relationship between Detroit Electric and Geely seems to be very much a meeting of similar mind. The Geely brand which will incorporate the partnership is known as Emgrand, with the EC7 to be the first joint venture between the companies. However, it seems that the main collaboration between the two operations will relate to an electric drive system which will extend journey capacity, improve efficiency, and lead to a mass-market electric vehicle for the future.
Initially, all of the vehicles from the joint operation will be released into the Chinese market first and then possibly Europe and beyond. Indeed the company has already released fairly ambitious vehicle specifications and sales figures!
What can we expect from the new EC7-EV?
The EC7-EV is expected to come in two very different styles, with one vehicle offering 100 miles per full charge and the other offering 160 miles per full charge. Each of the vehicles will have a top speed of around 124 mph, which is obviously top end of the current market range for electric vehicles. Indeed the company has also announced sales targets for 2014 onwards with an initial target of 3,000 in year one, rising to 30,000 vehicles cumulative by year three.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "While Detroit Electric has been dormant for over 70 years it is set to spark into life on 20 April with the launch of its first electric sports car. The launch will be at the Shanghai Motor Show and while the company is unwilling to give too much away at this moment in time, some of the snippets available seem to suggest a very impressive vehicle is coming our way."
The very fact that the company is willing and able to announce specifications of the forthcoming vehicle, not to mention sales forecasts, does give a certain air of confidence to this particular operation. The fact is that the two companies have been quietly working together for around three years and have finally come to an agreement and arrangement which suits all parties. It will be interesting to see what kind of backing is forthcoming from the Chinese government, which has been very vocal and very supportive of the electric car industry of late.
Will China be the hub of the electric car industry?
The very fact that the joint operation will initially sell vehicles in China is a perfect example of the ongoing power change in the industry. The U.S. government has done and continues to support the industry financially, both via consumers and via companies, but the Chinese authorities appear to be a little more forthcoming with their physical support and financial support. Some experts believe that the Chinese authorities have stolen something of a march on their U.S. counterparts and we could see a battle of minds and hearts in the future.
It will be interesting to see whether initial sales forecasts are realistic as the current electric car market is proving very difficult to break into.