Oct 19, 2023 - Business

Tampa EV startup brings classic cars back to the future

DeLorean with its doors up and an Ampere EV decal on the windshield

Photo: Courtesy of Ampere EV

It's hard to turn heads on Ybor's 7th Avenue. Cars with massive rims and flashy paint jobs fade into the background all the same as roosters clucking by and palm trees swaying in the breeze.

Yes, but: When Matt White drives by, jaws drop.

The intrigue: His 1982 DeLorean doesn't just remind people of Marty McFly. He's taken it back to the future by making the car electric.

Driving the news: White's company, Ampere EV, started selling an EV conversion system in December. The DeLorean was its first conversion, an experiment done in just six weeks in 2021.

  • The company, partially based in Georgia, has sold 20 systems. White hopes to sell 50 next year.

The big picture: Converting classic cars to electric vehicles is the latest trend for collectors, an eco-friendly modern twist that could change the market for wealthy hobbyists.

Flashback: The "Back to the Future" movies made the DeLorean into a classic car, but its poor build kept it in the past. The car's PRV engine made it unreliable and sluggish, with a speedometer max of 85 mph.

  • White tripled the horsepower with his electric conversion, and it can now reach 60 mph in a little over four seconds. Its battery can take the car 120-140 miles.
  • "John DeLorean always wanted to do something way outside the box and the big automakers wouldn't let him do it. He sort of under promised and over delivered," White told Axios. "I think we made a vehicle more true to his vision had he known something like this could happen."

The price tag: White paid $46,000 for the DeLorean, relatively cheap for a classic car. But the conversion is pricey.

  • The Ampere EV system starts at $55,000. To have someone else install it will run you about $20,000 to $30,000, White says.
  • That's hefty, given that the average EV transaction price was $53,469 in July 2023, according to Kelley Blue Book.

What they're saying: White knows his company isn't for everyone. He started Ampere EV because he liked the idea of making any car eco-friendly and drive better, but mostly, he says, it's for the spectacle.

  • "It's ego-driven," White told Axios.

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