Historic electric car brand Detroit Electric (DE) confirmed early last year plans to launch a range of all-electric vehicles for sale in Europe and North America by the end of the decade. The company has now taken a major step forward in realizing those goals with the announcement today that it has signed a deal with Malaysia’s Proton to start building the first cars from next year onwards.

Under the agreement, Detroit Electric will install its all-electric powertrain in two separate Proton vehicles which will then be sold under the Detroit Electric brand. The cars will be styled differently to the Proton vehicles on which they are based and are scheduled to go on sale in the U.S., Europe and China early next year.

By 2012, Detroit Electric plans to sell more than 270,000 electric vehicles and is implementing an aggressive pricing strategy for the cars. They are to be priced between $23,000 and $26,000 for the city range model (111mi/180km) and between $28,000 and $33,000 for the extended range model (200mi/320km).

For those unfamiliar with Detroit Electric, the group was an early 20th century electric car brand launched by the Anderson Electric Car Company over 100 years ago. In its heyday, Detroit Electric was an American icon and the cars were very popular with customers like Thomas Edison, Charles Proteus Steinmetz and Henry Ford’s wife Clara.

Detroit Electric is now seeking to form similar partnerships with manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe in effort to quickly expand the number of different models it sells. Proton is also reportedly developing its own hybrid technology, although nothing has been heard since last August.