Detroit Electric on Monday said it would produce and market a full line of pure electric vehicles in the US, UK, EU and China from 2010 by integrating its patented electric drive systems into Proton vehicles.


Under an agreement signed on Monday, 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 EV maker said in a statement.


“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 CEO.


“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 EVs in Europe, UK, China and the United States priced between US$23,000 and $26,000 for the city range model and between $28,000 and $33,000 for the extended range model. Styling changes will distinguish Detroit Electric’s vehicles from Proton’s existing line-up.


The magnetic flux motor technology and 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 lab and manufacturing plant will be in Malaysia close to Proton’s vehicle assembly facilities. 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.


Detroit Electric will be responsible for the homologation of the vehicles and for vehicle certification in the US and Europe, where models are targeted to be sold in the first quarter of 2010. Detroit Electric will assume all warranty and liabilities for the electric vehicle componets while Proton will cover 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 initiated the test and validation programme 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 US. 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 unutilised global resources and accelerating the technological advancement of pure electric vehicles.”


He said pure electric vehicles would 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.”