Proton y Detroit Electric fabricarán coches eléctricos de altas prestaciones

Ambas empresas informaron que los dos primeros automóviles eléctricos de cuatro puertas, que todavía carecen de nombre, estarán listos a principios de 2010.

Las baterías son de polímero de litio, de 25kWh el modelo básico y 40 kWh el más potente. La carga, a 32 amperios, lleva 3,2 horas el modelo de 25 kWh y 5 horas en el modelo de 40 kWh.

El objetivo es producir 40.000 unidades ese año y 270.000 anuales en 2013.

Su precio inicial será de entre 23.000 y 33.000 dólares, en función del modelo y los impuestos, aunque Proton goza del monopolio de producción nacional de coches en Malaisia.

De salir adelante el proyecto, será uno de los primeros de producción en masa de automóviles con alimentación exclusiva por electricidad frente a los actuales híbridos, que combinan un motor eléctrico con uno de gasolina.

El consejero delegado de Detroit Electric, Albert Lam, aseguró que los coches eléctricos producidos por Proton se comercializarán bajo la marca estadounidense a partir de febrero del año próximo en los mercados europeo y asiático, mientras que a Estados Unidos "llegarán tres o seis meses después".

Asimismo, explicó que el objetivo de ventas de estos coches eléctricos en todo el mundo se situará en 40.000 unidades al año en su primer año de comercialización, mientras que para 2012 las estimaciones comerciales alcanzan las 270.000 unidades.

Lam subrayó que Detroit Electric tiene intención de iniciar la venta de estos vehículos no contaminantes en países con "fuertes" incentivos fiscales a estos coches, como por ejemplo España, Dinamarca, Holanda, Francia o Reino Unido, mientras que en China, la firma podría colaborar con un fabricante local para la venta de estos automóviles.

La corporación estadounidense señaló que fabricará los coches eléctricos sobre la base de las plataformas de Proton, aunque indicó que realizará diferentes modificaciones para diferenciarlos de la gama de producto actual de la compañía asiática. Por su parte, la empresa malaya podrá usar las direcciones de Detroit Electric en sus coches para su venta en el Sudeste asiático.

Los dos vehículos eléctricos conectables a la red eléctrica desarrollados por ambas empresas llevarán baterías de ión-litio y no contarán con un motor de combustión que ayude a ampliar su autonomía. Los precios de uno de los automóviles oscilarán entre los 23.000 y los 25.000 dólares (entre 17.300 y 18.800 euros) y podrá recorrer 180 kilómetros sin repostar.

El segundo de los vehículos producidos por ambas empresas tendrá una autonomía de 320 kilómetros y costará entre 29.000 y 33.000 dólares (entre 21.800 y 24.810 euros). "Creemos en un vehículo eléctrico asequible, práctico y para su uso diario", añadió Lam.
Dutch, Malay venture to build all-electric cars
Four-door will be exported to U.S., Europe; priced at $23,000 to $33,000

Malaysia’s national car maker Proton and a Dutch company signed a $555 million deal Monday to make zero emission electric cars that they said would be more powerful than any existing model.

Proton and Detroit Electric, a startup company that owns the technology, signed the agreement in the presence of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to produce the sedan cars, initially targeted for Europe and the U.S.

"We have the audacity to bring to the people an affordable, practical, everyday car … with zero emission," Detroit Electric Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Albert Lam said in a speech.

The four-door vehicle will roll out of Proton’s factory by early next year, Lam told The Associated Press in an interview.

The aim is to produce 40,000 units in the first year, ramping up to 270,000 by 2013, he said. The cars will be priced between $23,000 and $33,000, depending on the model and taxation.

Under the agreement, Detroit Electric will use Proton’s underutilized assembly line. Detroit Electric’s motor, lithium polymer battery, the drive train and other components will be fitted in the bodies of two Proton models, Persona and Gen 2. They will be sold as Detroit Electric, without a specific brand name.

First to mass market?
If it succeeds, Detroit Electric would be among the first to mass-produce an electric car driven purely by a noiseless battery-powered motor, unlike current hybrid engines that combine gasoline engines and electric motors.

General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., PSA Peugeot-Citroen, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Tesla Motors are all seeking to develop electric cars market amid rising consumer interest in "green" technologies — and at a particularly difficult time for the industry amid the global slowdown.

U.S.-based Tesla Motors has a prototype that has a claimed range of 160 miles and is scheduled to be produced by 2011, and cost about $50,000. A Peugeot-Mitsubishi collaboration, the iMiEV hatchback, expected to reach European consumers next year, has a stated range of 90 miles.

Lam said Detroit Electric’s base model, meant for city driving, will have a range of 150 miles on a full charge of eight to 10 hours and will have a top speed of 120 miles per hour.

The higher model will have a range of 200 miles with a top speed of 120 miles per hour. Plugging the car to an ordinary electric power outlet would charge the battery, manufactured by a South Korean company.

"We will be the spark that triggers change and tells people now is the time," said Lam. "Let’s push change in the industry for environment’s sake, for the sake of less dependency on petrol, for the sake of zero emission and for noiseless driving."

Detroit Electric name dates to 1907
Lam, a British citizen and a longtime auto industry executive, joined a group of Dutch investors and inventors of the car’s motor to set up a company in Damwoude, Netherlands. Lam bought the rights to the company’s name — Detroit Electric produced electric cars in the U.S. in 1907 — to restore its historical legacy.

The engineers developed the car over 18 months and two working models were demonstrated to journalists last year.

Proton, which has struggled in recent years, could benefit from the agreement and create a niche market for itself.

"The project shows that Proton can adapt well to the current challenging economic climate," said Proton Managing Director Syed Zainal Abidin bin Syed Mohamed Tahir. "As a manufacturer, we have to think differently from others and start venturing into new areas where there are potential for growth," he said.

He said the deal will earn Proton revenue of at least $555 million over four years, even if it makes only 40,000 cars per year.

Proton will have the option of buying the Detroit Electric technology after a nine-month evaluation period and to sell the car under its own brand in Southeast Asia.
Detroit Electric and Proton Announce Strategic Partnership to Produce Affordable and Practical Pure Electric Vehicles

Detroit Electric to produce and market full line of innovative Pure Electric vehicles in US, UK, EU and China beginning 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30, 2009: Detroit Electric Holdings Ltd and PROTON Holdings Berhad today announced a strategic partnership to mass produce Pure Electric Vehicles. Detroit Electric will integrate its patented electric drive systems into the vehicles.

Under the agreement, Detroit Electric will license two Proton vehicle platforms and contract the company to assemble the electric vehicles that will be marketed under Detroit Electric’s brand.

This agreement will provide Detroit Electric with its first manufacturing base. The announcement came at a signing ceremony officiated by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“Today’s agreement with Proton will put Detroit Electric on the fast track to bring a full line of innovative, practical and affordable pure electric vehicles to the global market,” said Albert Lam, Detroit Electric’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We chose Proton due to its state-of-the-art production facility, commitment to research and development, cost efficiency, and stable, high-quality workforce.”

By 2012, Detroit Electric plans to sell more than 270,000 Pure Electric Vehicles in Europe, UK, China and the United States. The vehicles will be priced between USD 23,000 and USD 26,000 for the city range model and between USD 28,000 and USD 33,000 for the extended range model. Styling changes will distinguish Detroit Electric’s vehicles from Proton’s existing line-up.

The vehicles will be based on Detroit Electric’s unique, patented electric drive system that greatly reduces the electric motor’s size and weight. The underlying Magnetic Flux Motor Technology and well-proven Lithium Polymer Battery Technology allow pure electric vehicles to achieve a single-charge range of 180km (111 miles) for the city range model and 325km (200 miles) for the extended range model.

Detroit Electric is in the final stage of setting up two subsidiaries: Detroit Electric Energy, which will produce the battery technology, and Detroit Electric Advanced Propulsion Lab, which will manufacture the motor and controller.

The Detroit Electric Advanced Propulsion Lab and Manufacturing Plant is targeted to be in Malaysia close to the vehicle assembly facilities of Proton. By 2012, the two production plants will produce more than 400,000 electric drive systems, creating thousands of jobs and supporting Detroit Electric’s internal demands as well as third-party OEM’s needs.

Proton, which currently produces a total of 270,000 vehicles of various models in Malaysia, edged out a host of international brands when its popular Persona was named Malaysia’s Best Model of the Year in the 2008 Frost & Sullivan ASEAN Automotive Awards. The company is also Malaysia’s largest investor in research and development, spending USD 1.2 billion (RM4.6 billion) between 1993 and 2003.

“We are proud to be able to integrate our electric drive systems upon one of the best cars out of Asia. Our customers around the world will enjoy the level of quality and comfort offered by Proton, an award-winning manufacturer,” said Lam.

Detroit Electric will be responsible for the homologation of the vehicles and for vehicle certification in the U.S. and European markets, where models are targeted to be sold in the first quarter of 2010 EU, UK, China and closely followed the US. Detroit Electric will assume all warranty and liabilities for the Electric Vehicles, while Proton will warranty the vehicle’s build and standard components.

“Our vehicles will be reliable, meet all quality and safety requirements, and quite simply outperform internal combustion engine vehicles of the same class. They will be affordable as we look at the competitive market and come without the polluting carbon emissions,” said Lam.

Today’s agreement also initiates the test and validation program in which Proton will evaluate Detroit Electric’s electric drive system with the intent to license the rights to distribute, market and sell vehicles under the Proton brand in Asia.

Detroit Electric is looking to repeat similar contract production partnerships with manufacturers in Europe and the United States. This will allow the company to extend its range of models very quickly to meet demand in the different automotive segments in these markets.

“When you are trying to redefine the automotive industry, you need to bring many partners along,” said Lam. “Our contract manufacturing business model will breathe new life into current manufacturers, leveraging existing unutilized global resources and accelerating the technological advancement of pure electric vehicles.”

On the current global downturn in automotive markets, Lam expressed confidence that Pure Electric Vehicles will attract a diverse base of consumers despite the tightening credit market, lowered consumer confidence, unstable oil prices and stricter fuel economy regulations.

“Our target audience are those who purchase practical and affordable vehicles. This makes our products fit the pockets of a very wide audience – from professionals and executives, to mothers, students and small business owners.”

About Detroit Electric:

Detroit Electric Holdings Ltd is one of the leaders of the electric car revolution. We manufacture efficient and environmentally friendly, high performance, long range Pure Electric Vehicles and drive-systems to the global marketplace. Detroit Electric’s product plans range from high performance sports cars to stylish sedans capable of driving over 320 km / 200 miles in a single charge.

Detroit Electric Holdings Ltd invented and patented the Magnetic Flux Motor Technology for the motor drive train. The company also owns the intellectual property for the Motor Controller Program. Since its launch, Detroit Electric has been dedicated to developing new technologies and establishing strategic partnerships that leverage existing manufacturing capacities in the marketplace.

About Proton:

PROTON, established in 1983, is Malaysia’s largest manufacturer of automobiles. With operations in key market centers from UK and Western Europe to the Middle East, and across South-East Asia and Australasia, PROTON produces cars to suit a range of consumer demands and preferences. The offerings include versatile and reliable four-door family vehicles, two-door hatchbacks for the young-at-heart, luxurious and stylish executive sedans, as well as the world-renowned sports cars from Lotus.

PROTON’s inception as a key driver of national development has seen the brand accelerate its learning curve through technology transfer with strategic partnerships and technical collaborations. PROTON cars are now steadily on track to achieving the mission for the future, gearing up to achieve the promise of a marque which build cars with passion and soul; cars which are a delight to drive and a pleasure to own.