DeLorean has returned to the automotive world in the form of a new entity, planning on producing the fully electric Alpha 5 alongside other EVs inspired by the DMC-12 heritage. There is however a shadowy part in the story since Karma Automotive sued DeLorean Reimagined for allegedly stealing their intellectual property.
In the lawsuit, Karma claims that four of its former employees that are now high-ranked officials of DeLorean had been working on a potential DMC-12 electromod project whilst still working for Karma, using its intellectual property for the creation of their new venture. Joost de Vries (CEO of DeLorean), Alan Yuan (Chief Operating Officer), Troy Beetz (Chief Marketing Officer), and Neilo Harris (Vice President) were all working for Karma before joining DeLorean Reimagined, although they claim their new EV, the DeLorean Alpha 5, has nothing in common with Karma’s unrealized DMC-12-based project.
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It all started in 2020, when Karma Automotive and the original DeLorean Motor Company owned by Stephen Wynne started talking about potentially electrifying DMC-12s using Karma’s EV architecture. The secret “Project 88” was assigned to the aforementioned employees who according to Karma “actively concealed information” and “furtively took confidential Karma information, materials, and templates” with the goal of “usurping Karma’s corporate opportunity for themselves”. The California-based company is accusing the four individuals of “breaching their contractual obligations”, “consummating a deal with DMC” and “tortiously interfering with Karma’s prospective business relations”.
Here we should note that DeLorean’s high-ranked officials left Karma between August 2021 and February 2022, while Stephen Wynne himself is also a member of the board in the new venture. The first teaser for the new DMC-branded EV was published by Italdesign in January 2021, before plans for the DeLorean Reimagined venture were made public. In December 2021 and a few months after departing from his previous position at Karma, Joost de Vries said that funding and the majority of engineering work for the DeLorean Alpha5 were already completed. The vehicle debuted in digital form in March 2022, with a full reveal expected at Pebble Beach Concours d ‘Elegance in August 2022.
Speaking to Sant Antonio Express News, Joost de Vries, CEO of DeLorean denied any wrongdoing, saying that the DeLorean Alpha 5 was fully engineered outside of Karma. More specifically, he said: “The potential Karma/DMC project died due to Karma’s inability to fund or produce deliverables necessary to even move forward talks with DMC. DeLorean Motors Reimagined is a completely new entity with a completely new fully electric vehicle unrelated to the low volume replica project”.
Speaking about the Alpha 5, de Vries said: “This car has a very specific, unique DeLorean lineage that has no relation to Karma Automotive from a design, engineering, supply chain or manufacturing perspective”. Finally, the CEO added that he and his colleagues “remain committed” to the future of the company and “excited about the innovative products we are bringing to market”. DeLorean Reimagined is headquartered in San Antonio and has disclosed plans for hiring 450 employers in the next few years, benefiting from financial subsidies offered by the city.