Listen to this article
The DeLorean Motor Company is a brand that lives in the past but will be back to the future soon. Auto Futures sat down with Joost de Vries, CEO of DeLorean, to learn more about its upcoming vehicles and the future of the iconic brand.
De Vries has had a long career in electric, luxury cars, and transportation. He was VP of Sales and Customer Experience at Karma Automotive, VP of Worldwide Service at Tesla Motors, and VP of Sales Administration at Mack Trucks. He also worked with DeLorean in the past.
“We worked with the owners of DeLorean years ago to try to electrify the 1980s DMC-12. It worked fine. However, the required legislation was not ratified. We could not build it,” he explains.
“Then we started digging deeper into the brand. We found that the brand is just incredibly vibrant. So, we got the right group of investors, the right group of technology, and designers to bring the brand back. 30-40% of the world already knows this brand. You do not have to explain it. We can just make a product for the brand and start as an OEM,” says de Vries.
He says the classic DeLorean will always be the classic DeLorean. The Classic DeLorean Motor Company is also one of the largest shareholders in the new DeLorean Motor Company (DMC).
“We purchased the rights to use that brand. John DeLorean and his team built a car that was an instant icon. That brand has expanded and expanded since then,” he says.
Many people came to know the original DeLorean (DMC-12) through the Back to the Future films. Universal Studios owns anything that has to do with the movies. The first movie was released in 1985, three years after the company went bankrupt.
The Back to the Future Delorean enhanced with a “flux capacitor” could time travel when it achieved 88 mph.
In 1995, mechanic Stephen Wynne founded the successor DeLorean Motor Company and acquired the remaining parts inventory and the company’s stylized “DMC” logo. DMC announced that the new DeLorean Alpha5 will be shown at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August.
This new electric model is expected to have a range of more than 300 miles, a 100+ kWh battery pack, and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
What Features of the Classic DeLorean Come Back to Future Models and What New Features Are Coming?
One of the most iconic features of the original DeLorean car was its brushed stainless-steel body. However, the new DeLorean vehicles will not be all steel. Instead, de Vries says that a mix of materials will be used including carbon fibre and aluminium.
The gullwing doors are back and take less room than regular car doors due to the roof-mounted hinges. The slats, or louvres, on the rear window hint at the original and also improve aerodynamic efficiency.
“What I am excited about is our head-up display. We did not go nuts with the size of the screens inside the vehicle. We moved everything to the windscreen not just for the driver but also for the passenger. There is still a dashboard and a centre console screen. But they are not stupid big,” says de Vries.
He is also excited that the Alpha5 is a coupe 2+2 with two small rear seats. In order to accommodate the car’s large battery, the Alpha5 has a long wheelbase. This offers more space inside and allows for the two rear seats. The back is very narrow and it is low with not much drag, says de Vries.
“The car needed to be beautiful. If you make it into a block, it is not particularly beautiful. So, we compromised headroom in the rear to get the design we wanted,” says de Vries.
However, he says the front seats have plenty of headroom for his 6’4″ height. Tall people can comfortably drive it. He calls the DeLorean Alpha5 a luxury car – not a hypercar.
“We did not want to build a hypercar. There are plenty of those around. It is a fast car. Fast enough for most people. 0 to 60 in less than three seconds is pretty fast. But it does not try to be a hypercar,” says de Vries.
The DeLorean Alpha5 is not a retro car. It was designed as if the original DMC-12 had evolved and improved over the last forty years.
Developing the DeLoreans of the Future
He gave more details of the mysterious timeline on the DeLorean website and the logos for the Alpha, Alpha2, Alpha3, and Alpha4. The models will be revealed over the next few months and shown at Pebble Beach.
“We built generational vehicles. We went back to 1990 and redesigned the coupe. We went back to 2000 and designed a four-door sedan. We went back to 2010 and built our first SUV to start to understand what the DNA of the brand would have been if it had never left. All these vehicles will be at Pebble Beach. We have rebuilt the whole legacy of the brand over forty years,” he says.
Italdesign designed the Alpha5 and all its predecessors.
“A lot of that came out of the archives at Italdesign because they never stopped designing DeLoreans even after the company went under. We talked to the original designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, and his son Fabrizio. They never stopped designing either. It was just epic what we found. So, we went all the way back,” says de Vries.
How will the New DeLorean Alpha5 Drive?
According to de Vries, the Alpha5 will be a driver’s car and very chassis-focused. It will have active suspension and rear-wheel steer.
“This is a driver’s car. You will have some level of autonomy in there with a very big off button. We want to be the opposite of where some brands go now with autonomous and AI giving you back time. We want to give you quality time to drive – not to sit in a car and have it done for you,” says de Vries.
The Alpha5 will feature bi-directional charging built-in.
“When the car becomes part of the fabric of your life, it also means your home needs to be connected,” says de Vries.
Where the DeLorean Alpha5 be Manufactured and How Much Will it Cost?
De Vries says vehicles will be assembled at an existing US plant. DMC will use contract manufacturing, at least for the coupe.
He said he could not reveal the expected MSRP or any other pricing details.
The DeLorean Magic
De Vries credits his time at Tesla for learning how to make magic happen at companies.
“The biggest learning moment for me at Tesla was that once you make employees shareholders, magic happens. We worked seven days a week, twenty hours a day. You can move mountains when a team is focused on running in the same direction,” he says.
“That is what we are trying to recreate. Pretty buildings don’t make businesses. Pretty buildings are pretty things that don’t do business. It’s the people. It’s always about people. That is why we’re very focused on the human aspect of the car. When you have a motivated team who understands the mission and wants to succeed, magic happens. It is not that complicated. The chemistry of a successful team is just amazing. If you look at how much we did with the designers in Italy and us working here in the US, giving them direction. It was magic – absolute magic,” he enthuses.
He welcomes future DeLorean Alpha drivers.
“When you are ready – awesome – step into the brand. We welcome you to the journey. This is going to be exciting,” says de Vries.
What Is Next in the Future of the DeLorean Motor Company?
“We will show number six at Pebble Beach and seven at CES,” de Vries says.
“You will see us at public events like the Geneva Motor Show. And you will see us at other events too, which have nothing to do with automotive. You’ll see it in surprising places.”