January 20, 2021 DMC

NHTSA releases final Low-Volume Manufacturing Rules

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has completed a regulation permitting low volume motor vehicle manufacturers to begin selling replica cars that resemble vehicles produced at least 25 years ago. Congress enacted a DeLorean Motor Company-backed bill backed by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) DeLorean Motor Company, and others into law in 2015, which streamlined requirements for small automakers, but implementation was delayed while awaiting the NHTSA regulations. Companies like DeLorean will now be able to apply for authorization to produce and sell vehicles under this program.

The recent release of the final rule document was unexpected, and we’re very pleased to see it finally happen. Still, four years overdue with no clear idea of when (or if!) these would ever be released did certainly keep us from putting too many eggs in that stainless steel basket, so to speak.

Some previous suppliers that we had lined up have gone out of business during the pandemic, others have been absorbed by larger companies that have made it clear low volume component production is not something they’re interested in pursuing. In that regard there will be a fair amount of work to be re-done. Perhaps worse, some “champions” we had at various suppliers have retired or moved on. In some cases this has left a void, where before there was a DeLorean fan, who rallied for us within their company and management.

Additionally, certain staffing candidates that were on our short-list have long since moved on in and while unemployment has increased during 2020, many of the specialized roles that we require are still hard to fill.

As mentioned before, in 2015 our planned engine had a life-cycle of emissions compliance through 2022. We had hoped to get into production by 2017 and get 3-4 years out of it before having to take on the engineering for a new powertrain. It’s believed that this engine has been extended through perhaps 2024 now, but it doesn’t seem like a good idea to plan around an engine so near its end-of-life.

That said, with EV’s becoming more mainstream, we’ve been considering switching to an all-electric as the future. It certainly makes for an easier path through emissions maze which still looms large over any internal combustion engine. While an electric Cobra or Morgan may be a little extreme for their potential market, we’ve already seen that an EV DeLorean – as we displayed at the 2012 New York International Auto Show – is not such an “out there” idea.

Most critically, financial markets have changed, and will change even more as the world navigates the continuing COVID crisis during the Biden administration. Will the financial support that we had lined up a few years ago to carry us through the final development and into production still be available?

As the automotive brand with likely the highest name recognition across all demographics in spite of not having a new product in 40 years, we still believe that none of the above is insurmountable and believe that others will see value in it, as well.

Stay tuned…