City Council to vote on $562,500 grant to DeLorean

Next week, City Council will decide whether to grant more than half a million dollars to DeLorean Motor Company to establish its headquarters on the Southwest Side — the first step in the company’s plan to produce an updated, electric version of its iconic 1980s-era coupe.

DeLorean resurfaced in February when it ran a pre-Super Bowl ad teasing a comeback for the company that was made famous for its namesake auto’s role in the “Back to the Future” movies.

City staffers recommended giving $562,500 to DeLorean in exchange for the revamped automaker hiring 450 workers here and investing more than $18 million at its planned headquarters at Port San Antonio.

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If council approves the grant, it would be worth $1,250 per job that DeLorean creates, and paid out as the company hits hiring targets.

DeLorean plans to hire 450 employees by 2026. Most of the jobs will be engineering positions that pay over $70,000 annually. All workers at DeLorean’s headquarters will earn more than $50,000 per year, according to the city grant agreement.

By comparison, the median worker in San Antonio earned under $40,000 last year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

San Antonio leaders who have sought to build an automotive manufacturing hub in the region have cheered DeLorean’s headquarters decision.

Toyota recently completed a nearly-$400 million expansion at its auto plant on the South Side, where it will soon start building the Sequoia SUV alongside the redesigned Tundra pickup. And heavy-duty truck maker Navistar International showed off its new factory on the South Side last month, where the company is beginning to assemble commercial trucks.

Tesla, meanwhile, started building vehicles at its “gigafactory” outside Austin last year.

City staffers touted the kind of jobs DeLorean has said it will create, many of them in engineering and testing.

“These engineering positions will strengthen and diversify San Antonio’s advance manufacturing cluster by adding hundreds of auto (research and development) positions,” city staffers said in a memo to council members.

DeLorean told the city it expects to produce the electric coupe beginning in 2024. The company plans to contract with an existing auto manufacturing plant in Ontario, Canada, which DeLorean would pay to produce the vehicle. DeLorean would not employ the manufacturing workers.

In February, CEO Joost de Vries said DeLorean will produce a “low volume” of the electric cars. The price for the coupe hasn’t been set, but de Vries said it would be comparable to high-end electric cars such as the Porsche Taycan and Lucid Air, which range from about $80,000 to north of $150,000.

De Vries said the company is looking at producing an SUV vehicle after it starts manufacturing the coupe. DeLorean will “likely utilize an existing facility in South Carolina” to produce the SUV, according to the city contract.

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City Council also will vote next week on whether to designate DeLorean as a “Texas Enterprise Zone Project.”

The designation would make DeLorean eligible for refunds on state sales and use taxes, a subsidy worth $1.25 million over five years. The state administers that program, and it wouldn’t cost the city.

De Vries has declined to say how much funding DeLorean has secured, though he said in February the company is “not under-capitalized.”

DeLorean earlier this week released a teaser image of its electric coupe. The company plans to unveil the vehicle on Aug. 18 at the Concours d’Elegance auto show in Pebble Beach, Calif.

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