It's been more than 40 years since the DeLorean hit the streets in its original form. Now, plans from a Texas-based group call for a modern DeLorean—one that's recast as an electric car.
Set to debut in concept form with a production-intent design on Aug. 21 during Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach, California, the as yet unnamed DeLorean will be a reimagined electric coupe for the modern era, according to CEO Joost de Vries.
The new DeLorean Motor Company incorporated in Delaware on Feb. 28 of this year. That’s the same company name John DeLorean used to produce the DMC-12 in the late 1970s. But the new DeLorean won’t be a continuation car, and de Vries told Motor Authority it won't be a copy and paste from the past.
The company’s headquarters will be based out of Port San Antonio, Texas. De Vries said the company plans to become a full-line OEM with more than just the electric coupe.
How we got here
In the 1980s, after DeLorean went bankrupt in 1982, Stephen Wynne repaired old DMC-12s and accumulated the trademarks and most of the surplus parts and assets of the former company in 1995. For many, that made him the steward of the DMC-12.
In 2017, Wynne’s company, Classic DeLorean, announced plans to reimagine the DMC-12. This was to take place under the cover of new legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015 that would allow the company to remanufacture up to 325 cars per year.
De Vries and his team originally planned to electrify and reimagine DMC-12 with Wynn’s company, Classic DeLorean. However, plans fell apart because the legislation wasn’t pushed through under the original timeline. Despite passing through congress and being signed into law by President Obama in 2015, the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 stalled until the NHTSA finally established regulations, which just went into effect in March.
After the original plan fell apart de Vries approached Wynne and said, Hey, why don’t we look at this much bigger? The executive believes DeLorean is strong enough as a brand that it deserves to be a new startup rather than a reimagined vehicle. “Truly a full line OEM,” he said.
But first, the new DeLorean needed a new look. The iconic DMC-12 was designed by Italdesign founder Giorgetto Giugiario. Giorgetto, and his son Fabrizio, never stopped penning DeLorean designs in their own time, according to de Vries. While a new car was never physically produced, data and drawings were created over the years quietly and are now being pulled out of drawers. ”It’s stuff the world has never seen,” de Vries said. Images will be shared over time to illustrate how the Giugiarios imagined the car would look today as it evolved over time.
Who’s funding this?
With the idea moving along, the topic of money came up next, naturally.
“You need a billion dollars to build an OEM, and that’s the minimum,” de Vries said.
DeLorean Motor Company is in the process of acquiring that money. The first round of funding came from accredited investors to make the company real. The second round is said to come mainly from institutional investors, while the third round will likely be loans, according to the CEO.
De Vries wouldn’t comment on how much money the first and second rounds of funding raised. However, Chief Marketing Officer Troy Beetz said the startup automaker is “well funded” for the current stage, though he noted the company will need to secure additional rounds of funding to advance the company’s larger plans.
For now, Classic DeLorean is the largest individual shareholder in DeLorean Motor Company.
De Vries said DeLorean Motor Company will go public at some point, explaining that once the formal paperwork is filed with the SEC the timeline is normally 16-18 months, which has yet to begin. The longer the company can stay private, the easier it will be to do the work without the scrutiny, de Vries said.
“Being public is not always a benefit,” he observed.
Who are these people?
Currently, the operation employs a few more than 50 people, including suppliers, according to de Vries. The company’s LinkedIn profile currently notes 7 employees that list DeLorean Motor Company (previously DeLorean Motors Reimagined LLC before incorporating on Feb. 28). Plans call for about 400 employees by the time the car hits production, de Vries said..
De Vries is no stranger to startups and the electric car market. He has spent time within Volvo, Tesla during the do-or-die days of the Roadster winding down and the Model S ramping up as the automaker’s first Vice President for Global Service. He established the global service department network to become an extension of the factory along with setting up a final assembly factory in the Netherlands. Karma recruited de Vries eight or nine months after the company purchased the bankrupt assets from the old Fisker company. Over the course of six years he was in charge of helping to get the brand on its feet, serving as the Vice President of Sales and Aftermarket and then as VP of Global Sales and Customer Service.
Beetz, DeLorean’s CMO, cut his teeth at Toyota and Lexus first as a district sales manager and eventually as a Senior Product Manager of Global Development. He was recruited by Nio to help as the Director of Global Product Planning get the automaker established in the U.S. before working with de Vries at Karma as Director of Global Product Planning and Global VP of Marketing and Partnerships.
This baby is electric
The new DeLorean will be electric, but de Vries wouldn’t discuss the supplier for the electric motors. The executive did confirm it’s not Tesla or Lucid.
The battery, which will be larger than 100 kwh, will have a fast-charging rate of around 150 kw, and deliver more than 300 miles of range, according to de Vries. The CEO said it won’t reach the 500-mile range because customers do not require that in a niche product. He also wouldn’t name the battery supplier.
“You could assume that with most EV sports cars, all-wheel drive would be a must as would a flat floor battery,” Beetz said. We take that to mean the car will have at least two motors, one up front and one in the rear.
While de Vries confirmed DeLorean is partnering with Italdesign to engineer the new DeLorean, he said it will not ride on the new modular EVX EV platform developed by Italdesign and Williams Advanced Engineering. A new chassis with a structural carbon-fiber tub will be utilized. The powertrain will have off-the-shelf components that have already been validated, but the packaging will be unique to DeLorean, and the car will use custom software, according to de Vries. However, the executive wouldn’t disclose specific performance targets, such as top speed or 0-60 mph time.
The final suspension design isn’t locked in as the company is looking at multiple scenarios, Active suspension might be a “need,” according to Beetz, as the team aims to deliver what customers expect the car would have evolved into over the last 40 years.
Beetz said the new DeLorean will “be a driver’s car, bringing back the joy of driving.” De Vries followed with, “in other words, it’s not an iPad on wheels.”
The new DeLorean will be built in North America in an existing plant, according to de Vries, noting “there’s plenty of capacity out there in the market.” The executive explained that if the company had to build a plant the lead times would be a year and a half longer. He also said that the company is in discussions with multiple parties for sales and service.
Will it have gullwing doors? Will its body be stainless steel?
Yes it will, and no it won’t.
Forgoing the iconic doors was on the table during the design phase, according to Beetz, but the idea was met with backlash during research. Butterfly doors that would rise up like those on a McLaren were even considered, but that created chaos and the company learned a lot about not changing the iconic features during the research period. The team worked closely with Wynne and his group on the feedback he’s received from his fanbase while also conducting research with Italdesign.
Beetz said the group has also paid close attention to the DeLorean fan pages, which over time have shown their own interpretations and expectations of what a modern DMC-12 would look like if created. These comments and renderings have all shaped the new car and helped the team understand what people wanted to see.
Nods to the past, such as the gullwing doors, will be enhanced. De Vries noted the doors will have new pivot points and they’ll close without having to yank on a little strap.
The design will feature other nods to the DMC-12, but a stainless steel body won’t be one of them. Beetz noted that a stainless steel body would be counter to what the team’s trying to achieve with regard to efficiency and weight.
When will we see it?
Exactly what will debut at Pebble Beach is causing friction within the company. The CEO is pushing for the car to be a close-to-production-intent prototype. But marketing and Italdesign are pushing for a prototype with the biggest wow factor.
The company plans to solidify timelines at the debut, but the goal is to have mules on the road before the end of the year, and pre-production cars on the road in 2023. It’s possible a customer would take delivery of a car in 2023, de Vries said.
The CEO was quick to note there are still many open questions and he wants to be realistic as the team solidifies plans for production, engineering, and the supply chain.
Beetz and de Vries wouldn’t talk pricing, but they said to think high-end Tesla Model S and Lucid Air but underneath the cheapest McLaren. That puts the DeLorean somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000.
Going beyond the coupe
The new electric DeLorean is said to be just the first vehicle in the plans for DeLorean Motor Company.
De Vries acknowledged an entire company can’t be built around a coupe, as a company can’t sustain itself on such a niche vehicle.
The company plans for other DeLorean models to join the lineup, and according to de Vries, they will represent larger market segments and each will feature its own platform. Beetz said the company will paint a clear picture of the full portfolio of vehicles by Monterey Car Week in August.
While de Vries wouldn’t discuss volume aspirations, he noted there are projections, but the company doesn’t aspire to be Tesla. Beetz noted the Model S is somewhere around 15,000 units a year; the DeLorean will not outsell that model. The company won’t talk about volume until at least May, Beetz said.
If DeLorean Motor Company can secure the funding, the new DeLorean won’t be a copy of the car ol’ Doc Brown used to travel through time. Instead, it will do some time travel of its own, taking cues from the past but joining an electric future.