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Detroit Electric Holdings And Dongfeng Ink Partnership To Develop EVs in China

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Dongfeng's Mengshi

Dongfeng's Mengshi

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Backside of the Dongfeng Coupe

Backside of the Dongfeng Coupe

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The American marketplace may be sluggish right now, but manufacturers and investors are betting big on China. Not only is there a fair amount of money floating around that country--the new home of Hummer and Volvo--but China is also set to become the world's biggest auto market in the very near future. Naturally, foreign outfits are hoping to get in on the ground floor, and some of those companies are talking about electric vehicles.

We've recently seen this transfer of EV technology at work in reverse via the Coda/Hafei partnership, which will likely bring a Chinese-built electric sedan to the U.S. late next year. And another development project is slated for Volkswagen and BYD, as they share technology to create EVs for their respective markets. Now we've received a press release indicating that U.S.-based Detroit Electric Holdings and Chinese manufacturer Dongfeng are working together to "research, develop, market and sell Pure Electric Vehicles (PEVs) in China, based on Detroit Electric’s advanced electric drive technology."

It's important to note that those vehicles won't just be Dongfengs: according to the release, the Detroit Electric and Dongfeng are in discussion to create a new joint venture company that would provide electric drive technology to other automakers, too. Detroit Electric is pinning some very ambitious hopes on this project and another one with Malaysia's Proton, which will allow the company to sell its own EVs. Between the two, Detroit Electric is hoping to develop and sell 45,000 vehicles in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. in 2010, and a whopping 270,000 just two years later, in 2012. In these meek-onomic times, it's nice to see a little "go big or go home" swagger.

And for readers who aren't familiar with the Dongfeng brand (no need to be ashamed), here are a couple of the company's recent contributions to the marketplace: the Dongfeng Mengshi (which may or may not be a legally licensed version of the HUMMER), and the Dongfeng Coupe (note the accordion-style trunk, designed to accommodate larger objects). Fasten your seatbelts: it's going to be an interesting ride.

[Detroit Electric; press release below]

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Dongfeng Motor Corporation and Detroit Electric Holdings Ltd Enter Into Strategic Cooperation

Wuhan, China, June 19, 2009:  Dongfeng Motor Corporation and Detroit Electric Holdings Ltd announced today the two companies have agreed to jointly research, develop, market and sell Pure Electric Vehicles (PEVs) in China, based on Detroit Electric’s advanced electric drive technology.

Based upon the strategic agreement signed today, Dongfeng Motor Corporation will test and validate Detroit Electric’s patented electric drive technology with the intention to produce and market Dongfeng’s Pure Electric Vehicles (PEVs).

The parties are also in discussions to form a joint venture company to manufacture, assemble, produce and supply the electric drive technology to the Dongfeng Group and other vehicle manufacturers.

In addition, the two companies will study and explore the market entry strategy under the Dongfeng and Detroit Electric brand.

Detroit Electric Chairman and CEO, Albert Lam, said: “We are excited at the opportunity to partner with yet another world-class automaker in order to accelerate the wide adoption of Detroit Electric’s electric drive technology and propel the PEV industry forward.”

“This validation process is a major proof point for the technical leadership and commercial readiness of our electric motor drive technology. We look forward to working closely with Dongfeng and exchange our experiences,” he said.

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