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DeLorean Goes Electric: Company Plans New Model Of Iconic Gullwing Car

There's a new DeLorean DMC-12 coming out — or rather, there's a new version of the same stainless steel wedge of a sportscar that became an icon (and perhaps the lone representative) of '80s cool. But it won't run on gas — it'll be electric.

And unlike the DeLorean that played a vital role in Back to the Future, this one won't require a nuclear reaction that generates 1.21 gigawatts.

Instead, the prototype runs on batteries, which currently give it a range of between 70 and 100 miles. But the company says that its second-generation prototype should have a greater range, thanks to more efficient batteries and a lighter frame.

But as DeLorean CEO Stephen Wynne tells Autoweek, that doesn't mean the car's body isn't made of stainless steel — only the underpinnings have been changed to lighter materials.

"I know my market well, and there are certain things we won't mess with," he says. "It will keep the stainless-steel exterior. We still want it to be a real car."

The car comes as electric vehicles are rising in popularity — and overcoming early doubts about their performance capabilities. As NPR reported back in 2009, there's even a niche group of drag-racers who convert old cars to run quick quarter-miles on maxed-out electric power.

DeLorean Motor Co. announced the new car this past weekend, unveiling the electric model for fans who had gathered in Houston, where the revamped car company was holding an open house. It anticipates putting them on the market in 2013, for a retail price of around $90,000.

The original company's founder, John DeLorean, died in 2005. Since the late 1990s, Wynne has been rebuilding old DeLoreans, as well as building them from scratch — he owns the remaining DeLorean parts inventory, as well as the DeLorean logo.

DeLorean Motor says it will also be converting existing DMCs to run on electric power.

On DeLorean's webpage announcing the news, Joshua Inglima writes:

I would love to convert my 83 to be electric.

I'm also thinking that the front hood could be converted to a substantial solar panel... probably get nearly 200W out of it.

The car could probably top off the batteries sitting in the parking lot while I'm working for the day.

In the meantime, if you'd like a wallpaper image of a DeLorean spreading its wings for your phone, the company can hook you up.

The DeLorean has been a cultural touchstone ever since Michael J. Fox drove one into history — and back — in Back To The Future. As noted in the NPR photo blog The Picture Show, the film even inspired a photographer to create a series of images that recreate moments in her subjects' past.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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