By on January 28, 2020

DeLorean’s plan to produce updated versions of its only model has been delayed due to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) dragging its feet on the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act. The car was supposed to be here as a turnkey classic years ago, but the regulator failed to act after the 2016 election. The NHTSA doesn’t currently have an administrator, and the acting administrator would not sign off on the regulations. Vintage automobiles probably aren’t very important to an agency that’s also trying to manage autonomous and electric vehicles.

However, the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act was supposed to be the keystone in allowing DeLorean and the like to assemble new cars. Noticing three years had passed with no progress, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) decided to sue the NHTSA last fall. James Espey, vice president of DeLorean Motor Company, has taken this as a good sign — and he believes the company could start production in 2021. 

“Realistically, I wouldn’t expect to see production begin until at the earliest this time next year.” Espey recently explained to CNETadding that the summer or fall of 2021 might be when we’ll see orders filled.

That timeline, however, is dependent upon regulators being swift and the Office of Management and Budget not taking more than six months to review the final document.

The NHTSA will first provide 30 days for public comments on its proposed rules, which SEMA has already confirmed it will contribute to in order to urge the most favorable regulations. Espey praised the group for working so hard to get modern classics out of the factory. “SEMA is not asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit until NHTSA carries through,” Espey said in an earlier interview with Hagerty.

From Hagerty:

DMC, based in Humble, Texas, was started by Stephen Wynne in 1995 to service and restore DeLoreans. Born in Liverpool, England and a mechanic by trade, Wynne eventually acquired the DeLorean trademarks and vast stocks of parts left over from the factory and dealers. Using those parts, DMC offers refurbished and upgraded DeLoreans from its four locations in Texas, Florida, California, and Illinois.

“It’s crazy how many DeLoreans are used as daily drivers in California,” says Espey, who has been with DMC for 20 years.

The company has about 3.5 million parts in stock and Espey says an inventory survey shows 96.7-percent parts availability. That means DMC already has 96.7 percent of what’s needed to build complete cars. The missing parts don’t much affect DMC’s restoration business but would need to be procured to build whole cars.

Cars will be an amalgamation of the old DMC-12 parts and new modern equipment. The model will receive features it never had before (cruise control, updated center console, superior climate controls, etc) as well as a new motor. The old 130-hp V6 will be replaced with a unit producing an estimated 350 hp, requiring wheel and brake upgrades.

Cars produced under the new regulations are required to use an engine already certified with the EPA and CARB, but DeLorean doesn’t see that as a problem. While the motor it originally chose is due to be phased out in a couple of years, the company says it should have no issue sourcing something else.

The Low Volume Manufacturer law only allows a company to make 325 cars per year, but Espey says that the initial run of DeLoreans will be leaner than that. He’s not anticipating being able to build more than a couple cars every week, but expects demand to be high. “The DeLorean appeals to ages eight to 80, thanks to those movies,” Espey said. “Someplace in the world right now, one of those movies is on. Somebody’s seeing it for the first time. They’ll go to the internet and look up DeLorean and see it’s a real car they can buy, not a movie prop.”

The company previously suggested some versions of the car could exceed six figures; since then, it’s been cagey about releasing detailed pricing information. Considering the amount of modern amenities planned, the original $25,000 MSRP will seem like a bargain.

[Images: DMC]

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