Creator of new DeLorean flying car says it’s not just for rich people

At the very end of the first Back to the Future movie, Dr. Emmett Brown utters the immortal words: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” The previously grounded DeLorean DMC-12 car he’s driving then lifts off the ground, and flies halfway down the street before turning around and rocketing directly at the camera. Cue the audience bursting into fits of wild applause and Hollywood execs avariciously rubbing their hands together at the prospect of a high-grossing movie sequel. Or two.

It’s a great scene, and one that sticks with you long after the film has ended. It obviously stuck with Paul DeLorean, nephew of the founder of the unfortunately short-lived DeLorean Motor Company — because 32 years after the first Back to the Future, he’s setting out to launch a flying vehicle under the DeLorean brand. And this time a DeLorean could have got it right!

As Paul DeLorean told Digital Trends, DeLorean Aerospace’s DR-7 isn’t technically a car — because it can’t drive on roads — but it doesn’t exactly look like a plane, either. Instead, the two-passenger electric vehicle sports a carbon composite, monocoque structure body, similar to that of an F1 racer. It’s designed to be flown with minimal operator training, courtesy of an autonomous flight control system that can also be used in manual mode for the “performance flying enthusiast.”

The DR-7 is maneuvered using a pair of 360-degree thrust-vectoring electric ducted fan units. The results will reportedly make it capable of hovering or forward flight, with a top speed of 240 miles per hour. It will also boast a range of 120 miles, which should make it more than capable of covering your commute to work. Then, at the end of the day, you can neatly store it in your garage, thanks to its smart folding wings.

Paul DeLorean is aiming high with the vehicle. When Digital Trends asked whether he was envisioning this as the next luxury yacht or the next mass-market car, he told us: “We aren’t targeting only general aviation customers; we see much broader market potential, extending into other transportation segments. Our target price point will reflect that, ultimately. However, we have not established our launch pricing yet.”

At present he said DeLorean Aerospace is seeking additional funding for prototype development, which it is hoped will be completed within the next year. After that, we just have to wait to see which of the various competing flying cars (or, well, “vertical takeoff and landing personal air transport vehicles”) we’ve heard about will take off first — in all senses of the word.

With the original DeLorean DMC-12 having become a cult classic, despite selling nowhere close to enough to stay afloat during its original production run, it would be kind of great to see the DeLorean finally become the mass-market transportation technology its creators always dreamed it should be.

Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.

The best hybrid cars save on fuel without sacrificing fun

The best hybrid cars are fuel-efficient and all the rage, but which one should you buy? We’ve broken through the noise to let you know the best hybrid, and a few interesting alternatives from different categories.

Ambitious but not rubbish: The best Top Gear episodes

Since its relaunch in 2002, Top Gear has become required viewing for any serious gearhead. The great moments from this show may seem too numerous to count, but we've managed to pick some of the highlights from the first 26 seasons.

Electric car buying guide: What you need to know before you buy

EVs are better than they've ever been, but buying your first battery-powered car can be an intimidating experience. Digital Trends has compiled a comprehensive guide that walks you through the process of buying an EV.

Nikola previews $80K NZT off-road EV speedster with 590 horsepower

Nikola Motor is taking reservations for the NZT, a high-performance, all-electric off-highway vehicle (OHV). The $80,000 NZT has 590 horsepower, 775 foot-pounds of torque, and reaches 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds.
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.

Google’s Stadia is the future of gaming, and that’s bad news for our planet

Google’s upcoming Stadia cloud gaming service, and its competitors, are ready to change the way gamers play, but in doing so they may kick off a new wave of data center growth – with unfortunate consequences for the environment.
Emerging Tech

Hawaiian botanists’ drone discovers a plant thought to be lost forever

In what may well be a world first, botanists in Hawaii recently used a drone to find a species of plant that scientists believed was extinct. The plant was located on a sheer cliff face nearly 20 years after its last sighting.
Emerging Tech

Alphabet’s Wing drones now have FAA approval to deliver packages in the U.S.

Alphabet Wing has become the first company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the FAA. This means that it can begin commercial deliveries from local businesses to homes in the U.S.
Emerging Tech

A battery-free pacemaker harvests and stores energy from heartbeats

Researchers in China and the United States have developed a new battery-free pacemaker which gathers its required electricity from the energy of heartbeats. Here's why that's so exciting.