It may be the most iconic failure in the auto industry, but a small Texas startup is convinced it’s finally time to bring back the DeLorean DMC-12.
The reborn DeLorean Motor Co. says it’s planning to launch a modern update of the sports car which will be produced at a facility at the Port of San Antonio, Texas. The operation is expected to create about 450 jobs, it was announced on Monday.
Details about the revival plans are sketchy. How much the original design will change is unclear, but a teaser image reveals the updated model will retain the familiar gullwing doors of the original. It also will get a new light bar on the nose — something that has become a required feature on modern battery-electric vehicles.
Company’s origins and revival attempts
Formally known as the DMC-12, the DeLorean is best known for the role a modified version played in the Back to the Future movie trilogy, letting its lead characters travel through time. But there’s also the story of its founder, John Z. DeLorean, who was arrested, tried — and acquitted — for trying to deal a suitcase full of cocaine to help keep his failing company afloat.
Launched by the one-time General Motors executive in 1975, the DeLorean Motor Co. crashed in spectacular fashion after building barely 9,000 of the sports cars. The DMC-12 never quite lived up to the promises made by its founder, but its design was a real standout in an era known for bland styling.
Throughout the years, there have been numerous attempts to revive the DeLorean name, as well as the DMC-12 itself.
As far back as 2011, investor Stephen Wynne appeared ready to make something happen, saying his DMC Texas was “reconstituting the fruit of John Z. DeLoreans’ troubled loins,” with a version of the sports car set to go all-electric. But it wasn’t to happen, at least not immediately. It took until 2016 to settle an assortment of lawsuits with DeLorean family heirs but the new company has continued facing challenges.
Yet, the new DMC Texas refused to abandon the project. Last year, the company announced it had teamed up with the legendary design house ItalDesign — which penned the shape of the original DMC-12.
The company is now helmed by Joost de Vries, who was also active in an attempt to bring back the failed Fisker company.
“San Antonio boasts a growing component and vehicle manufacturing sector, as well as a wide array of global advanced manufacturing operations,” DMC CEO De Vries said this week. “This allows us countless synergies between established companies and suppliers in the broader region (including) a deep talent pool and a strong local academic ecosystem will foster further innovation.”
The teaser image is part of a short video released this week directs viewers to the DeLorean.com website. Unfortunately, it offers no additional information, just a way for fans to purchase hoodies and other merchandise.
What’s clear is that the original DMC-12’s gas drivetrain is going electric — and you won’t need to hit 88 mph and tap into an overhead power line carrying 1.21 gigawatts of energy to power it up. But range and performance numbers haven’t been released yet.
The only information that’s gone on the record is that the new DMC headquarters operation will be based at Port San Antonio. It appears that a small manufacturing site also will be based on that campus.
“In an increasingly competitive electric vehicle market, San Antonio is ready to lead,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “By planning to establish their global headquarters in San Antonio, DeLorean is validating the talent, strategic preparation, and adaptability our region provides for EV manufacturers to thrive.”
Among the other details that have yet to be revealed: what sort of funding the company has, and how much comes in the form of assistance from various San Antonio and Texas government organizations. The city has become a major automotive center in recent years, with operations from companies including Toyota and Navistar.