The most important part of the Low Volume Manufacturing legislation passed at the end of last year is the final rules for the program. The law as enacted instructs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalize the rules for the legislation by the end of 2016.
Low Volume Regulations Overdue For
Note that this isn’t a countdown to the start of production, but rather a countdown to when the rules are due. We are still proceeding with a plan to begin production in Q2 2017, presuming this critical deadline is met by EPA/NHTA. EDIT: This is now a “count-up” timer, showing how far behind the EPA and NHTSA are publishing the regulations for this program.
While we await the final rules from the EPA and NHTSA, we have been busy on many different fronts. February was especially busy here at DeLorean Motor Company in Texas thanks to all the media attention, both from the initial news story in late January and the promotional video (mistakenly identified as a commercial by some media reports) that still continues to attract attention, NBC’s Today Show also ran a story on us that has created yet another wave of interest. Click the image below to see the Today Show piece…
We’ve had some great meetings with four potential engine suppliers – two here in the USA and two from outside the USA. We even have a development engine from one of these here in our facility now to see how well it will fit in the car’s available space. We’re excited about this process and want to choose our official engine supplier as soon as we can. As talks progress and there is more to share, we will talk about it here, too.
Other engine suppliers are working from CAD data of the DeLorean engine compartment, which was completed earlier this month, and we are awaiting data from them to help evaluate what engines are a “good fit” for us.
We’ve also had a good conversation with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), who will need to certify that whatever engine we choose is acceptable for this low volume assembly program. The staff at CARB is interested in the success of this program and has offered some great ideas that we intend to pursue. They are also excited about the possibility of us being able to offer this engine as a retrofit for the existing 1981-1983 DeLoreans, as well.
Bill of Materials
A significant amount of time has been spent creating a preliminary “bill of materials” for the assembly of the DeLorean cars. The first draft of this has been completed, and we are now identifying the parts that will either need to be reproduced or otherwise sourced. It is our intent to reproduce as many of the currently unavailable DeLorean parts as required, making sure that they will be suitable for use on the existing 1981-1983 model DeLorean cars wherever possible. For items that will be used primarily on the 2017 assembly, we are striving wherever possible to make sure that they will also be suited for use on the original DeLorean cars, as well.
Our CEO spent 10 days in the UK meeting with potential suppliers for both components and for chassis development. Our plan is to re-design the front suspension geometry, an area of the original DeLorean that certainly could be improved upon. We are also in talks with two different suppliers to manufacture the re-designed chassis for us.
Some Great Outside Help
Two “heavy hitters” from the car industry have been assisting us as consultants in these talks with various suppliers. Their expertise, automotive-industry experience and interest in the success of the DeLorean project has been invaluable.
We have just recently also contracted with a UK automotive manufacturing specialist whose past experience as the Production Manager on the Jaguar XJ220, General Manager for the Aston Martin DB7, and Manufacturing Director for the McLaren Cars on the Mercedes Benz SLR project will be put to use on this project. His primary task will be to determine the best methods and facility configuration to allow production to ramp up from 1 car per month in Q2 2017 to 50 DeLorean cars per year by Q4 2018.
Two Key Parts
Two of the most notable parts necessary for the success of this project are the reproduction of the left front fender and the underbody. Most in the DeLorean community are aware that the fender has been in short supply since the 80s. The reason for this one body panel being in short supply has never been fully and accurately explained, but the fact remains that we need it, and the tooling was destroyed in the mid-1980s.
In February we had a 3D scan of a right-front fender completed (which will be reversed to obtain LH scan data) and have begun sending it out for tooling and production quotes. If anyone reading this has connections to a company that can handle low-volume (500-1000 pieces) stainless panel stamping or forming that has interest in a high-visibility project like this, please contact us.
Many in the DeLorean community know that we have the only surviving, complete set of underbody molds along with the cutting and drilling jigs from the DeLorean factory. Several years ago we had these molds refurbished and then worked with a company in Louisiana create a couple of samples for us for evaluation.
Based on that experience, we are in talks with a few companies here in the USA that have expressed interest in being a part of this high-profile project and we have had an on-site visit from one of them to inspect the molds and discuss this further.
We have had a number of unsolicited emails, faxes and letters containing resumes and inquiries about employment opportunities here at DMC. In April we expect to begin posting for new positions we would like to fill, so keep an eye on our “regular” website at delorean.com and we’ll also post here as we begin to list these openings.
How to order the 2017 DeLorean
We’ve had lots of requests for more information about the project and we’re answering some of the more general questions that we can here in these blog entries. There have been many questions relating to the features and how to get on a reservation list.
- We’ve established that, save for tires and wheels, the exterior shape will be closely aligned with the original car – and use new, original DMC stainless body panels.
- In-car electronics will be significantly updated to a modern standard with mild updates to the interior “look and feel”.
- The engine will be a modern, current year emissions-certified engine supplied by a major manufacturer.
- Initial production will likely be limited to manual transmission only, using a significantly stronger version of the original five-speed manual originally fitted to the DeLorean.
- We are evaluating the costs associated with building right-hand drive versions for non-US markets, but a final determination on availability has yet to be decided.
We expect to be able to begin accepting reservations in April/May of 2016. A fully refundable deposit will be required to secure a place in the production schedule. Reservation holders will receive frequent updates about our progress and are welcome to visit our facility at any time. As we get nearer to the start of production, we will confirm build specification, allocate a VIN and give a time frame for completion. At that time an additional deposit becomes due and the order becomes non-refundable.
The first year of production will be 12 cars – approximately one per month – with production currently forecast to begin in March/April of 2017, presuming EPA/NHTSA releases the rules on schedule. Production is planned to gradually increase to the rate of about one per week in years two through six.
Stay tuned for our next update in April!