The 1985 film Back to the Future made DMC DeLorean a time machine and a household name.
After nearly four decades and several company iterations, the latest DeLorean-named automaker is getting closer to its much-anticipated electric vehicle.
On Monday, DeLorean Motor Company unveiled new images and details of the car, the Alpha5, for Early Access subscribers, before posting it on their website the next day.
Unveiled in February, the concept car is scheduled to premiere in mid-August at the famous Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California. Limited production is scheduled to begin in 2024.
Chief Marketing Officer Troy Beetz said in a statement, “The Alpha5 is a representation of the past 40 years of DeLorean. There was this enormous responsibility to make sure we honoured the history of the DeLorean brand, but an even greater responsibility in curating its future … I think we did both with the Alpha5.”
Despite the name, the DeLorean Automotive company behind the Alpha5 is not the same company that brought the DMC DeLorean to the world in 1981. The company made only about 9,000 cars at its factory in Northern Ireland, went bankrupt in 1982.
It battled a series of high-profile financial and legal issues that culminated in founder John DeLorean’s involvement in a covert FBI operation that culminated in his conspiracy to obtain and distribute 55 pounds of cocaine. He was acquitted in 1984, though he was later tried for fraud and forced to pay creditors and lawyers millions of dollars over the next few decades.
Around the same time, a Liverpool-born mechanic named Stephen Wynne moved to the US and opened a repair shop for cars from the UK and France. He started focusing on DeLoreans at a moment when no one else would.
“Compared to what was around, it was an incredible-looking car,” Wynne recalled to Popular Mechanics in 2019. “But … there was no factory support and I was going to have to figure everything out. It was part business, part ego.”
By the mid-1990s, he had acquired the rights to the DeLorean Motor Company brand and inventory and became its CEO. The current company is located near Houston in Humble, Texas. It has offices in Florida, Illinois and California.
It has hinted at other cars over the years. For example, the company announced plans for an electric car in 2011 and said in 2016 that it would replicate hundreds of original DeLoreans after a federal traffic law was passed allowing automakers to build a handful of replicas.
Fast forward to 2022 to announce plans for a redesigned electric DeLorean.
Joost de Vries, the current CEO of DeLorean Motor Company, told Texas Public Radio in March that the new car will be built in a building in San Antonio, where the company plans to employ as many as 450 people over the next few years. He also did tell British automotive publication Autocar that the new car would be built in Italy.
While Alpha5 was touted as a comeback, he stressed that the brand never really left.
“DeLorean lived on in online games like Forza and Need for Speed and Asphalt, Playmobile, Hot Wheels,” he said. “The brand never left the market. A lot of the ideas that DeLorean worked with in the early 80s is actually something that we’re developing further.”
The automaker has released some preliminary images and details about the Alpha5 ahead of its scheduled launch in August.
The company has partnered with Volkswagen-owned design firm Italdesign, which helped develop the look of the original DeLorean.
The result is a car somewhat similar to its predecessor, with gullwing doors and a shuttered rear window. But some things are new, like four seats and two large screens, one in front of the steering wheel and one on the centre console.
The company says the Alpha5 can go from zero to 60 in three seconds. According to movie lore, it can hit 88 miles per hour in 4.35 seconds — the speed required for time travel.
The price is expected to be around $175,000. That’s a huge leap from 1981, when you could get an original DeLorean for around $25,000.
De Vries told Texas Public Radio that production of the new car will be limited, but he expects it “to be sold out within the year we roll it out throughout production.”
Autocar quoted de Vries this week as saying the car will be limited to 88 units to pay homage to the film. These are for track use only, not street use.
He added that the next batch of vehicles will be built with the goal of being road-legal.
The company is pushing its goals further, and de Vries said its list will eventually expand to include sports coupes, saloons and premium SUVs.
But first there’s the funding issue: Autocar said DeLorean has raised its first seed round, and the next one could be tied to an IPO.
“We will be a public company,” de Vries said. “We have to be. Building cars isn’t cheap, and you need lots of money to make it happen.”
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