Is it back to the future for the DeLorean Motor Company?

San Antonio has awarded a successor company grants and tax incentives to manufacture an electric version of the famed gull-wing-door car.

By David Brown, Rhonda Fanning & Caroline CovingtonApril 20, 2022 10:36 am,

The DeLorean, the famed silver, gull-wing-door car featured in the movie “Back to the Future” is getting a reboot thanks to a San Antonio company that wants to mass-produce a new, electric version. And San Antonio is giving the company a lot of money to do it.

Last Thursday, San Antonio City Council approved up to $562,000 worth of grants for the DeLorean Motor Company, which is unrelated to the original DeLorean company, and says DeLorean can also apply for one-quarter million dollars worth of tax refunds through the state. The company says it will create about 450 new jobs with an average salary of $145,000 by the end of 2026.

Author and veteran automotive journalist Micheline Maynard has been writing about the new, electric DeLorean and spoke with Texas Standard about whether it can compete with other EVs in development. Listen to the interview with Maynard in the audio player above or read the transcript below.

This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.

Texas Standard: Are you excited about getting behind the wheel of a new DeLorean?

Micheline Maynard: Well, I would want to see in person, in the flesh, one of the new DeLoreans before I made up my mind about that. Because first of all, people may not remember this, but the DeLorean itself was an absolutely terrible car in terms of fit and finish and quality and things like that. It looked really cool and it was a great idea. But go back and read some old consumer reports. There were a lot of complaints about it, so I think it’s going to be very interesting to see what actually comes to life out of all of this.

I understand you’ve seen some pictures of the designs for the new vehicle?

I think it looks very cool. It’s got kind of an ’80s throwback but with a modern twist to it. And there’s an awful lot of people that don’t have any memories of the actual DeLorean car; they only know it from the movie and just don’t have the overhang about it that maybe some older folks might have. So, you know, probably the worst of its reputation is behind it, and now there might be an opportunity to come forward with something of better quality.

More than 500 companies have recently gotten into the electric vehicle business. But only one or two of the newer brands are likely recognizable to most people. What would it take for DeLorean to pull this off?

It depends on what their actual ambitions are. First of all, people need to remember that at the dawn of the automobile industry, so if you go back 120 years or so, electric cars were all the rage and there were dozens and dozens of manufacturers who were selling electric cars. And they just got out of vogue because of the same thing that a lot of electric cars face today: battery range. So once the internal combustion engine was perfected, you could go farther and be more reliable on a gasoline engine than you could on electric.

But also, the hurdles are enormous for any of these companies to actually get manufacturing up and running, which is an art form in itself. If you look at Tesla, people think of Tesla as a relatively recent thing, but they’ve actually been producing cars since 2008, and it wasn’t until 2016 when they introduced their mid-price model that they really took off in terms of production. So it took them almost a decade to really get up and running and then to now become the Tesla that everybody knows.

Scaling up production is a major issue electric vehicle manufacturers face. Is it possible DeLorean, and the San Antonio City Council have gotten ahead of themselves at this point?

One of the things that I would definitely be asking in San Antonio is to see the car – to actually see a drivable version of the car and not one that was just put together in somebody’s warehouse by hand. I would want to know that they do have a feeling for the production line and what it will take to actually put together a car in some sort of scalable fashion. You can build one in your garage; you can probably order the kits, as they say, but that’s a lot different than turning them out on a schedule.

This story has been updated to correct a spelling error of Micheline Maynard’s name.

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