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This student-built electric DeLorean is the best way to celebrate ‘Back to the Future’ Day

In just a matter of hours, the clock will strike midnight on Oct. 21, 2015. And that’s no normal Wednesday; it’s the date at which Doc Brown and Marty McFly are set to arrive in a flying DeLorean from 1985, setting in motion the events of Back to the Future Part  II.

If you take a look out your window, you’ll notice that the “future” we’re living in today is slightly different than the one depicted in the 1989 sci-fi film. There’s a severe lack of available hoverboards (at least for now), holographic sharks aren’t promoting Jaws 19, and we can’t find any self-drying jackets for the life of us.

There will be one familiar element for McFly and Brown on Oct. 21 though, because students from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in Northern Ireland will unveil their all-electric DMC-12 on that very day. The car — heavily modified with a bevy of batteries and a 270-horsepower electric motor — is thought to be the first DeLorean built in Northern Ireland since the brand’s Belfast manufacturing plant halted production in 1983. With the help of Northern Ireland Electricity Networks, QUB students have been working on the vehicle for the past 18 months.

“The DeLorean was in a poor state of repair when we took ownership in January 2014, and since then our students have worked with experts within Queen’s Electrical Energy laboratory — one of the few university facilities in the U.K. dedicated to teaching and research of electrical generators and motors — to develop the car’s hi-tech electric engine,” said project leader Dr. David Laverty. “We are using the original drivetrain from the DeLorean, including its Renault gearbox, which our students have modified so that it is driven by a 270-horsepower electric motor, giving a top speed of 120 miles per hour.”

The DeLorean EV may a light-hearted and nostalgic endeavor, but it’s also a unique opportunity to train the next-generation of vehicle developers in a field that is growing more significant every day.

“In the future, more and more of our energy will come from renewable electricity — whether to power appliances in the home or our means of travel,” Laverty continued. “The electrification of transport is a major global challenge, so projects like the Queen’s Electric DeLorean are crucial in equipping young engineers with the knowledge and expertise to build the electric vehicles of the future.”

The vehicle will be revealed in full at Belfast’s Ulster Museum to a group of school children on the morning of Oct. 21, and the event will also give them opportunities to learn more about electric engineering courses at QUB. If you happen to be local, there will also be a free lecture about Queen’s Electric DeLorean project at 6 p.m local time. Interested parties can register here.

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Andrew Hard
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