The DeLorean Alpha5 is electric, curvaceous and up against a tidal wave of new, luxury EVs.
Brian CooleyEditor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and the Publicis HealthFront. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
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The DeLorean is back from the future but also from the past, in the brand's first true relaunch since its heady, infamous days in the early 1980s. After getting a close look at a prototype of the new Alpha5, I think it has a chance of standing out from a crowd of high-end electric GT's that is gunning for Tesla's domination of luxury car sales. Here's what intrigued and surprised me about this vehicle.
A tasty exterior
The Alpha5 is a real looker, as was the original DMC-12, but in a completely different way. If you aren't a car buff you'd never guess this car is related to the original DeLorean. It's a much larger car (what car isn't, compared to models 40-plus years ago?) still featuring gullwing doors, but they're now massive enough to reveal both rows of seats at once.
The face and rump of the Alpha5, key brand statements for any car, have no correlation to those of the DMC-12, nor does the side profile, which is curvaceous and organic compared to the DMC-12's angular origami. Italdesign heavily detailed the ends of the car without chaos of a C8 Corvette, to my eye. The original DeLorean was also designed by Italdesign back when it was under the leadership of legendary founder Giorgetto Giugiaro.
If you're a fan of shooting brakes, the sort of low and lean station wagon that Brits and Europeans love, a future version of the Alpha5 will be in that form; DeLorean calls it a Plasma Tail. My brief peek under the drape told me it should be first out the gate, not second.
What moves you
There's not as much to get excited about in the powertrain, partly because details are still scant and partly because of my personal theory that electric car powertrains are more alike than combustion car powertrains ever were, thanks to electric power's uniform excellence. The Alpha5 will be a dual motor all-wheel drive arrangement with an expected range of 300 miles and a 0-to-60-mph time of 3 seconds. There are presently no plans to offer range variants.
Have a seat and a hug
Things really get interesting when the Alpha5's doors go up. The cabin has a strong wraparound bow shape with two LCD screens, the larger of which can display a modern digital instrument panel or a perfect replica of the DMC-12's analog instruments. Clever.
Then there's DeLorean Sense: It's a connected band you can give to loved ones or (really close) friends that allows their heartbeat to be displayed on the console screen, their body temp to become your seat heater setting or their hug to be delivered to you via power seat bolsters. I stared at DeLorean CMO Troy Beetz for a moment after he described these; I don't think he was kidding. Apple does a couple of these tricks with its watch, but it definitely hasn't figure out the hug thing yet.
Like every car under the sun, the Alpha5 can import your phone contacts but this car will do more than use them to support calls and texts: As you drive, people in your list will be pinned on the live map screen to remind you when they live or work nearby, perhaps rekindling fading friendships. It's an interesting mashup of location, social and check-in that Google Maps on Android does to a lesser degree.
On top of the dash are two narrow LEDs that will both glow when you're heading toward a location you've configured as a special place, be that home, a vacation spot or the office (please don't). DeLorean calls this a True North indicator and, honestly, it's the most out there of a basket of edgy technology visions inside this car.
The bottom line
The Alpha5 will go on very limited sale in 2024 and there's no pricing yet. That said, the company openly targets cars like the Lucid Air, Mercedes EQS sedan and Tesla Model S Plaid, so it's not a bad guess that the Alpha5's base MSRP will be widely around $125,000. DeLorean plans to select a US-based manufacturing partner that checks off at least one of the new boxes for the complicated rules around federal EV tax credits if the car's over-$55,000 price didn't exclude it first.
I probably have a somewhat irrational soft spot for the Delorean brand, as far removed from the heady early 80s as it may be. The original car had a certain Apple-ness about it, captured our imagination rather than generating resentment of its well-heeled buyers, and had a truly American flavor - even though it was the product of Italian design and British manufacturing.
The Alpha5 is the product of a different company from a different era and lacks the larger-than-life leader that was John DeLorean. (That's no slight against the new company's leaders, who have their own controversies... but likely none related to illicit suitcases.) This car is a good example of a fertile moment in automotive history that most of us won't see again.