San Antonio startup DeLorean says it now has a host for customer deposits on its cars

DeLorean plans to launch its long-delayed NFT exchange in August, but depositors are skeptical.

San Antonio-based DeLorean Motors Reimagined wants to bring its Alpha 5 electric vehicle to market. - Courtesy Photo / DeLorean Motor Co.
Courtesy Photo / DeLorean Motor Co.
San Antonio-based DeLorean Motors Reimagined wants to bring its Alpha 5 electric vehicle to market.
After months of uncertainty, customers who made deposits on San Antonio-based electric-vehicle startup DeLorean Motors ReImagined's Alpha5 model have some good news.

Maybe.

In an email to some customers last week, DeLorean officials said they had contracted Toronto-based creative agency Otherlife to develop the company's long awaited NFT-exchange.

Unlike other EV makers, DeLorean gave customers who put down deposits on the Alpha5 non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or unique digital assets that exist on a blockchain, as proof of purchase. Those assets can't be reproduced or edited.

DeLorean's NFT exchange, where customers can buy, sell, or trade their NFT deposits, was expected to launch in February 2023. However, those plans were derailed after the NFT host DeLorean was initially working with, New York-based NFT IQ, ceased operations.

"DeLorean is a brand that embodies the spirit of innovation, and we are thrilled to be a part of this transformative project," Otherlife's man bun-wearing CEO Michael Perrow said in a statement. "The path towards transparent vehicle analytics is a perfect use case for blockchain technology. It will provide the tool required for buyers in the secondary market to make informed decisions."

In last week's letter to customers, DeLorean also announced plans to use blockchain technology to store vehicle analytics. For those unfamiliar, blockchain is a digitally distributed, decentralized, public ledger that can't be changed or edited.

In other words, no one will be rolling back the odometer on the Alpha5 — once they finally start rolling off the assembly line, that is.

"The vehicle will be tied to our blockchain, where vehicle analytics will be stored," DeLorean Chief Technical Officer Ben Marquart told the Current. "It will act as a transparent ledger so that initial owners and secondary owners will be able to access the vehicle's history via DeLorean's website."

Word of DeLorean's new partnership comes two months after the Current reported that depositors couldn't access their NFTs on the company's website.

Despite DeLorean's new plans, depositors the Current spoke to last week remain skeptical, saying past promises from the company fell flat.

"Who cares if they've got some new partner for [the marketplace] if it's worthless and nobody's going to want to buy them," DeLorean NFT holder Ken Brackins said. "If they look into it, they'll see that there's no timeline on completion. It doesn't matter if they've got an exchange; if you have nothing to exchange, what does that even matter?"

Brackins, who spent a total of $5,000 on two NFTs as deposits on Alpha 5 vehicles, said he wants to sell at least one of the digital assets to recoup some of his money.

"I think pretty much everybody at this point is beyond skeptical, so I'm not holding my breath for anything at this point," NFT holder Jeff Reed of Tyler, Texas, said. "I think it's just another tactic. I'd be shocked if anything happens."

Since setting up shop in San Antonio a little over two years ago, DeLorean has delayed car production several times and was accused of trademark infringement by EV maker Karma Automotive, although that suit was eventually dropped in September 2023. DeLorean officials also talked up a partnership with Southwest Research Institute, which the Alamo City-based organization has denied.

In the wake of those hiccups, DeLorean CEO Joost de Vries left in December, and then-Chief Marketing Officer Alan Yuan stepped up as his replacement. It's worth noting that Yuan was also named in the trademark infringement lawsuit with Karma.

Company officials also hinted at a major marketing partnership with Pepsi in December. However, such a deal has yet to materialize.

Neither PepsiCo or DeLorean has responded to the Current's request for comment on the status of that marketing relationship.

Even so, Marquart said DeLorean will unveil other "great partnerships" soon. He declined to say when the company's first car is expected to roll off the assembly line.

Following De Vries' resignation and decisions by the city and county to end a $1 million incentive deal, DeLorean quietly relocated its headquarters out of Port San Antonio. It's now located in downtown's Phipps building.

The Phipps building itself has been at the center of controversy. Earlier this month, the building's owner, CDC Enterprises, locked out high-profile attorney Martin Phipps and three other ventures under his control due to a rent dispute.

The lone security guard patrolling the Phipps building on Friday told the Current that only people working for tenants who have paid their rent are permitted to enter the complex. DeLorean's four employees are on that list, the guard added.

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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