Detroit Electric, a brand of car once favoured by Thomas Edison, is mounting a 21st century comeback with electric cars aimed at Western mums and Chinese city dwellers.
The company on Monday announced a partnership with Malaysian auto manufacturer Proton to introduce an all-electric sedan next year.
Detroit Electric will offer a compact four-door, based on an existing Proton model, with a range of 110 miles, for between $24,000 and $26,000 (£16,800 and £18,200). An extended-range option will last about 200 miles, and cost around $5,000 (£3,500) more. The company also plans to make a hatchback.
The car will use lithium-polymer batteries supplied by a Korean manufacturer and run on an engine developed by Detroit Electric's Netherlands-based engineering team.
The company will market the cars in China, Europe and the US as an everyday vehicle, comparable in size and performance to popular petrol cars, said Albert Lam, the CEO of Detroit Electric and the former CEO at British sports car designer Lotus.
"In 2007, we adopted the Detroit Electric name and revived it because it brings us in line with the vision and essence of electric driving they had," Lam said on Friday. "We want to produce an affordable, practical, pure electric car."
In the early 20th century, Detroit Electric was one of a number of electric car manufacturers. These cars drove only about 20mph and had limited range, but were considered suitable for city use and, by some, easier to drive than petrol cars, which required a manual start.
In 1900, 28 per cent 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 US. The original Detroit Electric went out of business in the 1930s. This is a 1914 model, originally owned by electricity pioneer Charles Steinmetz.
Nearly a century later, nearly all carmakers are developing all-electric or hybrid cars aimed at mainstream buyers, which will start coming out next year.
The cars will first be launched in Europe and China in the first quarter of 2010 and then made available in the US by the third quarter of the year, Lam said. That's a delay from the 2009 target the company set last year to deliver both electric sedans and trucks when it announced its production plans.
The Detroit Electric's motor and controller are relatively lightweight at 18kg for 200hp and designed with very few components, Lam said. In terms of performance, the cars will have the peppy acceleration typical of electric powertrains, going from 0-60mph in less than 8 seconds. The top speed will be 110mph and they will seat five people.