Low Volume Regulations Overdue For
NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator and nominee for the Undersecretary for Policy at the Department of Transportation (DOT), Blair Anderson, was asked by Senator Dean Heller of Nevada if the agency was on track to list final regulations by the end of 2016, as outlined in the legislation. Mr. Anderson replied:
NHTSA is actively engaged in implementing the low-volume manufacturer provision of the FAST Act. While the agency may not be able to complete a final rule by the deadline, NHTSA is working to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking as quickly as possible.
Stuart Gosswein, SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs reports that EPA staff continue to work on a draft proposed rule for this program and that SEMA staff are working with both EPA and CARB to take actions necessary to implement the federal law.
All in all, while we at DMC find this encouraging, we are still concerned about the relatively slow pace of the progress to date.
After the May Update was posted, MLive.com posted an article on our progress that was picked up by other media outlets around the world including Breitbart.com, BoldRide.com, Inquisitr.com, Telegraph.co.uk, and CanadianManufacturing.com among others.
Additionally, the July issues of Car and Driver (USA) and Octane (UK) and the June issue of Ruoteclassiche (Italy) magazines all carried stories about the planned new production.
Since 1981, automotive manufacturers around the world have utilized a sophisticated numbering system to describe their vehicles – called a Vehicle Identification Number or VIN, for short. This number is a coded description of the vehicle – things like manufacturer, year of production, place of production and other vehicle characteristics.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations require manufacturers to place the complete VIN on their vehicles, and NHTSA has contracted with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to assign a selected portion of the VIN known as the “World Manufacturers Identifier” or WMI.
The original DeLorean Motor Company WMI was “SCE”, as the car was assembled in Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. Since we have no connection/affiliation with the original DMC and the planned 2017 production will take place in the USA, we won’t be able to use that WMI.
In May we applied for, and in June received, our WMI Code from the SAE. The first three digits of our VIN’s will be 1 D 9 and, as a low volume manufacturer, the regulations require that we also have a set of assigned numbers for the 12th, 13th and 14th positions of the 17-digit number, and ours will be 7 7 9.
Steel vs Aluminum chassis
After last month’s update in regards to our choice of a mild steel, e-coated chassis versus something like aluminum, we received a couple of questions from people asking the reasoning behind our choice.
We’ve had several mechanical engineers with extensive automotive experience review the original chassis design and the structural requirements based on our planned performance upgrades in the areas of engine, braking and suspension. Based on this review, all have been of the opinion that an identical replacement, made from aluminum, would not result in any significant weight savings if built to the same durability as the steel chassis. Furthermore, designing a new chassis suited to aluminum would require extensive changes to the underbody which would be cost-prohibitive.
We are still a few weeks away from being able to install each of the two engines under consideration into test cars here at DMC. Most of the delays have been in regards to identification and sourcing – and in many cases, fabrication – of the necessary parts required to adapt our existing transaxle to each engine, including the clutch hydraulics.
As the single largest dollar item on the bill of materials (when tooling is factored in to the total), we’re reaching out to as many potential suppliers around the world as we can. Having a part that is indistinguishable from an original, in terms of both fit and finish, is most important. Closely behind is being able to get these at a price that doesn’t adversely impact the overall bill of materials, and we also want it to be something we can retail to the owners of existing DeLorean cars who have had to “live with” a less than perfect fender. This will also take away owners’ trepidation of not knowing if they would be able to get a replacement part if they ever needed it.
We’ve had two more quotes from a potential fender supplier – one of them being better than all the rest – but still have a few more to come through. Lead time for tooling for all of them is looking about the same – 12 to 16 weeks – so we have a bit of time before we need to make a decision.
In our March 31st update we mentioned we have contracted with a UK automotive manufacturing specialist. His initial task has been to determine the optimal facility configuration for Year 1 (one car per month) and how we get to 1 car per week by the end of Year 2.
In suburban Houston, Texas we already have our 40,000 square foot building containing a showroom, service/restoration center and parts warehouse. With some additional off-site warehouse storage space, we expect to be able to re-configure this facility as shown below to accommodate Year 1 and Year 2 production.
In addition to the two test cars awaiting the completion of evaluation drivetrains, we have three development bucks on hand.
The first is being used for “packaging” of the new drivetrain into the existing engine compartment’s available space.
The second is a stripped center section of a DeLorean underbody and is being used for interior development – seating, center console and related items.
Finally, the third development underbody is being used for design and layout of the new chassis electrical system.
We’ll have some photos of these to share in a future update, so stay tuned!
We have made some progress – though not as much as we would like – in getting the reservation process, corporate structure and legal documentation completed. However, we are pleased to announce that we will begin accepting non-binding reservations in August.