Efforts to electrify an iconic car hit its first speed bump. Earlier this month, electric car company Karma Automotive sued DeLorean Motors Reimagined, the Texas-based company that owned the original DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) trademark rights, and four of its employees, alleging stolen intellectual property.
More broadly, Karma claims that DeLorean Motors Reimagined only exists because a joint venture between the two did not work out. In a lawsuit filed Aug. 8 in US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Karma alleges that four DeLorean employees — CEO Joost De Vries, COO Alan Yuan, Vice President Nelo Harris, and Marketing Director Troy Beets — stole the company’s trade. The secrets you used to launch DeLorean Motors Reimagined. The company said it plans to sell electric versions of the sports car that was revived in the 1980s.
According to the lawsuit, talks between Karma and DMC began in 2020 about a goal to “electrify DMC’s iconic DeLorean car, which would have helped the two companies accelerate in the future at 88mph.” (This is a reference to the 1985 movie Back to the futurebest known for the DeLorean time machine.)
Instead, the joint venture failed, and the defendants left to form their own venture, along with Karma’s classified information. “They secretly took Karma’s confidential information, materials and models,” the lawsuit says. “They actively concealed information from Karma to prevent Karma from pursuing the project or from discovering what the individual defendants were doing. Then they left Karma one by one.”
In a statement obtained by Car NewsAnd the De Vries said: “The potential Karma/DMC project has been put on hold due to Karma’s inability to fund or produce the output necessary even to move forward in talks with DMC. DeLorean Motors Reimagined is a brand new entity with a completely new all-electric vehicle unrelated to the scale replicas project. Low. We expect the court to hear this groundless litigation in a short time.”
The lawsuit comes after the San Antonio City Council approved a $562,500 incentive package for DMC in April, clearing the way for the company to file for $1.25 million in tax refunds to set up its headquarters in the city. The DMC package requires 450 jobs to be created by the end of 2026, paying an average salary of $145,600.
Karma Automotive was formed after a Chinese company called Wanxiang purchased several assets from bankrupt EV startup Fisker Karma. The company then rebranded itself as Karma Automotive and formed a small lineup, including a Karma-based hybrid sports car known as the Revero. The company shared its ambitions to build all-electric vehicles as well as sell core technology but struggled to find a foothold.
This isn’t Karma’s first lawsuit. Two years ago, the company sued Lordstown Motors, alleging that the Ohio-based electric truck company stole trade secrets and took away employees who were involved in developing information and entertainment technology.