Low Volume Regulations Overdue For
April and May were busy months as we continue with preparations for beginning “Low Volume” production in 2017. Here are the highlights…
DeLorean Chassis Update
In April, we met with another potential supplier for the DeLorean chassis, as shown below. The original DeLorean chassis was made from mild steel and coated with an epoxy to protect against corrosion in one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” things. As the epoxy aged and became more brittle, and as the chassis would twist and flex, the epoxy would crack. This allowed moisture – and road salt in the winters up north – to cause rust. Over the years we have used various methods to prevent rust when doing chassis replacements on DeLorean cars, including:
- Galvanizing, followed by powder coating
- Complete stainless chassis
- Electrocoating (cathodic electrodeposition) followed by powder coating
Our present plan for the initial production is to use existing new old stock chassis, electrocoated for corrosion protection and powder coated for cosmetic appearance. For later production it is still planned to use a reproduction chassis with modified front suspension as soon as practical.
Electrical system improvements
In early May, we met with a potential supplier for a new wiring system for the car. The original DeLorean wiring system is plagued with too many connections, using poor sockets/terminals that are not weather-proofed. Even the original DeLorean Motor Company knew this to be true while the car was in production, and before the company closed, plans were well underway to completely redesign the wiring harness and electrical architecture of the car.
Our plan is to update the wiring system, completely replacing the main harness with a modern multiplexed architecture, resulting in less wire (and weight), built-in diagnostics, and the ability to add many modern features that would otherwise be impractical. In any instances where we are using an NOS sub-harness, all connectors will be replaced with modern, weather-proof components. We have a complete system in-house now from this supplier and are installing it in a test car soon.
Front Fender Update
We have sent the 3D scans of the left front fender to various potential suppliers and have received good feedback from several of them. We have discovered that while the scan looks good, greater detail will be required before the file can be used to create tooling. We have a complete set of engineering drawings for each part of the car, but have discovered the drawing we have for the left front fender is a couple revisions OLDER than what was actually in production. In order to make sure we are using the latest specification, we needed to locate a later drawing.
In May, one of our employees was able to locate the original, pencil on paper, drawing for the left front fender in a private collection. Because of the size of the drawing, at 60″ in height and more than 120″ in length, copying the drawing was not practical. Photographs of the drawing were taken of all relevant areas in question, and our CAD file is being tweaked to reflect these now exact dimensions to the final factory specification.
The molds for the underbody were shipped off to our supplier in Ohio, who received them in good condition in early May. An on-site visit is planned for June to layout the timeline and procedures for production. One of the two molds is shown in the foreground and the drilling jig/rotisserie is in the background along with the cutting jigs in the “cages” to its left.
We now have narrowed our engine choices to two different suppliers, and have test engines from both of these companies being adapted to our current five-speed manual transaxle for further development and testing. Each of the two engines offers more than double the original engine specs of 130hp and 100+ more ft/lb of torque (original spec was 153 ft/lb). We expect to be driving and evaluating DeLorean cars fitted with these engines in the next 6-8 weeks.
We have entered into a development program with a company that specializes in modifying the UN1 transaxle as used in the original DeLorean car. The purpose of this program is to test and modify the transaxle internally to handle the increased horsepower and torque figures the new engine will deliver. This supplier has received two NOS manual transaxles and work is now underway.
In April, we also met with another potential supplier of braking systems in suburban Detroit and are continuing talks with them as we focus on improving the ability of the car by taking advantage of the greater space available by the use of larger wheels.This company is one of the best known names in the automobile industry and we are excited about the opportunity to work with them to dramatically improve the brakes in the DeLorean car.
Wheels and Tires
Also in April we had a very good meeting with a Tier 1 wheel manufacturer and were given a preview of some unreleased designs that could be made available exclusively for the DeLorean car. We also received initial costing for these new wheels in 17″and 18″ sizes (which offer the greatest tire selection). Further updates will come as this supplier relationship progresses.
Regulatory work has been slower than expected, which has caused concern here at DMC. While the legislation mandates that final regulations for Low Volume Manufacturing be completed by the EPA and NHTSA by December of this year, progress is now only starting to be made. In early May, along with other potential low-volume manufacturers, one of our staff met with legislative aides to Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and met personally with Congressman Gene Green in Washington, DC. The purpose of these meetings was to express concern about the glacial pace of the rule-making progress and how it will affect not only planned 2017 production of DeLorean cars but many other manufacturers who are planning on low volume production in 2017, and the associated jobs that will be added.
We are pleased that the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), which was instrumental in getting the Low Volume legislation passed in 2015, has contracted with a regulatory specialist to work closely with the EPA and NHTSA to speed this process along.