For the past few months, a stainless steel DeLorean DMC-12, the iconic automobile made famous by the Back To The Future trilogy, has been prowling the roads of California, possibly hunting for the Twin Pines Mall parking lot or other landmarks of Hill Valley. But it wasn’t this vehicle’s flux capacitor that stole the attention of passersby. "You have to be pretty astute to realize there’s no exhaust, but I had about 20 people accost me in different areas asking, 'What’s powering this thing?'" recalls Chris Anthony, the car’s driver. "And even for people who didn’t realize it was electric, it was still: 'Holy crap--that’s a DeLorean.'"
Anthony is the CEO of FLUX Power, the company that’s giving life to the new, electric-powered DeLorean DMC-12 EV. Created in partnership with the DeLorean Motor Company, the automobile is less a novelty and more so a vehicle to revive the DeLorean brand through modern technology. (Not that the company could ever be accused of being behind the times.) The DMC-12 EV runs on lithium batteries that can reach about 100 miles per charge, goes from 0 to 60 mph in roughly four seconds, and packs the electric equivalent of 250 horsepower. In a market dominated by all-too-cute-sounding rides (see Nissan Leaf), the DeLorean is a refreshing alternative--and an opportunity to bring the long-forgotten company back to the… well, yes… future.
DeLorean already has a Houston factory ready for production--the DMC-12 EV should hit the market by 2013, and run anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000. FLUX Power has opened a 450,000-square-foot plant on 13 acres of land in Louisiana, says Anthony, where he plans to supply to DeLorean with its power cells for mass production.
But the partnership between DeLorean and the aptly named FLUX Power, a startup that is gearing up for its IPO, was nothing more than a coincidence. "You always think of 'flux’ as in the flux capacitor-- I never dreamed I’d supplying be [the system] for the new electric DeLorean," Anthony says. "We did package it in a way that it looks very DeLorean-esque." Indeed, the charge meters of the car’s electric engine is an LED segment that races from yellow to red--designed after the back panel of the film’s flux capacitor. Anthony says there are little tributes like that here and there throughout the DeLorean’s new design.
The car itself is a perfect symbol for just how much the industry has changed. As Anthony explains, the original DeLorean was designed to be the most robust vehicle ever made. "Back in those days, they were making the most powerful car," he says. "They didn’t really care about efficiency--efficiency equaled power, so they were trying to make it as powerful as possible." Now, DeLorean has refocused its direction on energy efficiency.
Still, the company didn’t want to sacrifice power in the process--Anthony says he often gets in the 90s on the freeway. But what happens when he hits that magical 88 MPH?
"At 88 MPH?" Anthony laughs. "I haven’t gone anywhere but forward."