Are you a fan of cheap symbolism? Well then, feast on this: a popular and successful electric car used to be produced in the United States under the name Detroit Electric. Competition with conventional gasoline-powered cars finally shuttered the line — in 1939. Now the Detroit Electric brand is being revived by a British entrepreneur as a Netherlands-based company backed with Chinese money, marketing modern electric cars built by a Malaysian manufacturing company.
This is the part where we’re all supposed to gnash our teeth about the decline of the American automotive industry, but probably you should save your tears for a worthier cause. Fact is, this sort of thing is very good news for the environment. Detroit Electric plans to sell over a quarter million of the cars across the U.S., Europe, and Asia in 2012. I think it’s telling that Albert Lam, the Chairman and CEO of the new Detroit Electric, spent a significant portion of his career working at companies like Sun and Apple. The center of gravity in the automotive industry is shifting in a needed direction.
Meanwhile, Coulomb Technologies, maker of electric car charging infrastructure, is edging up to profitability, and says that the next three years will define the market. Three years isn’t a lot of time for such a young industry, but it also happens to be the deadline that London has set itself for installing 25,000 car charging points around the city. Heady days, indeed.