TL;DR The politicians giveth, and the politicians taketh away.
This morning, I was delighted to read that the DeLorean, the car made famous by the 1985 movie “Back to the Future” is back in production after more than 30 years. I read through a handful of articles about its return and tried to figure out why it went away. I was surprised by a comment by DeLerean CEO Stephen Wynne, who said,
“It’s fantastic. It is a game-changer for us. We’ve been wanting this to happen. That was a green light to go back into production. That was prohibited. It was against the law to do it.”
Why was it against the law? I got on the phone with the Vice President of the company, James Espey, who explained it to me:
The DeLorean did not meet current Federal requirements, but a new law exempts it. The new law states that if a manufacturer produces fewer than 5,000 cars per year, then it is considered a “Low-Volume Manufacturer,” and they are therefore allowed to produce up to 325 “replica vehicles,” defined in the law as “a vehicle that resembles the body of another motor vehicle produced at least 25 years ago.” That makes them a new special class of vehicle with their own set of requirements. James shared the text of the law with me, and I will link to it here.
In other words, people calling themselves the federal government threatened to steal from car manufacturers if they produce vehicles that do not meet their requirements, and then they exempted certain manufacturers from those requirements.
Want your own DeLorean? Tough. You better be one of the lucky 325 first people to buy because the politicians will put the company out of business if they produce more than that.