80-MPG Elio Three-Wheeled Car To Be Built At Former GM Truck Plant?

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Elio Motors 84 mpg 3-wheeler [Image: Elio Motors]

Elio Motors 84 mpg 3-wheeler [Image: Elio Motors]

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Startups making small, economical vehicles come and go, but one company offering a high-efficiency vehicle has big plans, buying a former General Motors assembly plant.

Elio Motors is the company behind a three-wheeled car capable of 84 mpg highway, on nothing more complicated than gasoline.

Reuters reports the company has bought an old GM plant near Shreveport, Louisiana, and Elio expects to begin production of its fuel-sipping vehicle in mid-2014.

It will then begin "significant hiring", building up to a workforce of 1,500 by late 2015. Renovation of the old plant will begin later this year, should the deal go ahead this spring.

$6,800... and 5-star safety?

A small carmaker with big plans is a story we've heard before, and not one that often results in success.

Some of Elio's figures are intriguing, however.

First is the price, which Elio reports as only $6,800. For that, you get three airbags, power windows and air conditioning, two seats, and a central driving position.

The company also offers a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty. Even more surprisingly for such a small vehicle--and one registered as a motorcycle--Elio says that preliminary computer tests suggest a 5-star safety rating is possible.

We'll believe it when we see it, but the figures are certainly headline-grabbing.

Unusually, given its layout, the Elio is front-wheel drive, and also offers ABS. It isn't clear exactly what engine and transmission the car uses, but Elio Motors says 84 mpg is possible in highway driving, with a 60 mpg average.

The company expects to use about 1 million square feet of the 3-million square foot Shreveport plant for its manufacturing operations. Industrial developer Stuart Lichter is buying the plant in conjunction with Elio, and the rest of the space will be leased to other tenants.

Leave us your thoughts on the Elio three-wheeler below--vaporware, or genuinely affordable, economical transport?


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Comments (38)
  1. This looks like my type of vehicle. Just wish that I didn't have to wait so long to get a test drive.

  2. I love it.

  3. Unfortunately, I don't thing Massachusetts will let me register this vehicle. A two passenger covered vehicle with less than 4 wheels is not allowed, according to my understanding.

    It reminds me of the Triac and Aptera (both dead).

  4. 60MPG isn't great compared to other small gasoline and diesel vehicles that are already available and get similar MPG and will seat 4+luggage in the sort of conventional looking vehicle people will actually buy. Of course those vehicles are mostly only available outside the US and cost substantially more than $6800, so using the three wheel concept to bypass safety regulations there might be a small market for something like this at that price in the US. A small market might not be enough though to meet the price target that sounds unrealistic even at serious mass production, so I doubt this vehicle is going to happen. Too bad, because it is sort of cool, if not very practical without bumpers and windscreen wiper.

  5. Your "not available in the USA" supercars tend to get their amazing gas mileage from lack of US required features or from acceleration similar to my bicycle. This makes them guaranteed to never be available in the the US. This car, being technically a motorcycle, skips all that stuff and we could actually have it. I'd like to see them succeed and if they can hit their price point I think they may have a chance.

  6. a one seater is a very hard sell, given the relatively poor sales of the Smart for 2 and other mini cars see http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1081447_now-we-know-u-s-buyers-dont-much-want-tiny-two-seat-cars

    i doubt a one seater will have even those numbers.

  7. Think it is actually a two seater.

  8. This vehicle is priced to sell. If the vehicle proves to be reliable and does well in the crash tests, I think this 2 seat trike would fly off the showroom floors. I'd like to know more about the drivetrain Elio Motors plans on using.

  9. The drivetrain will be supplied by I A V, a German company that furnishes automotive products to many car companies including the big 3 American car companies.

  10. I rather spend $6800 on a 2000-2006 2 seat Honda Insight that gets 70 mpg.

  11. Good luck with that. According to Edmunds the cheapest insight within a 100 miles of me is an '02 with 88k miles for $8489

  12. I think a tandem, front wheel drive, tadpole trike is a valid design and someone needs to explore it. Maybe people will buy a 2 seat for the right price. I don't know about MA, in CO this would register as a motorcycle and require a motorcycle endorsement. I hope they can do it, I hope they can hit the price point they say,

  13. This vehicle reminds me of the FREEWAY produced by HMV Motors in Burnsvill, MN. I toured the 17,000 sq. ft. factory in whitch half a dozen people produced 30 vehicles a month in 1983. It had a claimed 120 mpg without air and sold for about $3,500.
    My advice, reserve now & pick up erly, you will have a collectable in no time. gnbeemer

  14. Few questions, not in order. If this is a Motorcycle, will riders require a helmet? Will the Motor car, have a heater, and reverse gear? What will be the gross weight? Are there going 2 B a choice of colors? Water or air cooled? Stick Transmission? How can I order one of these? Can there be a Diesel?

  15. I currently own a 2000 Honda Insight 5 speed with 225K miles on it. I paid $20K for it new, and have never been sorry. I have monitored and recorded my mileage very carefully, and over the most recent 40,000 miles I have averged in excess of 51 mpg with an average cost of slightly more than 7 cents per mile. Most of my driving is high-speed turnpike driving, and this car can easily cruise well in excess of posted speed limits.

    Honda keeps inviting me to by a new car, and I always say "why?" I have no intention of buying a new car until I can get one that gets 75 mpg.

    If this car becomes available for anything close to the projected price I will definitely buy one.

    John Saggese

  16. I most agree with this post. I will buy one tomorrow at this price with a guaranteed delivery by end of 2014.

  17. David just because a trike can be registered as a motorcycle does not mean it is one. That means it will have a heater reverse gear and you won't have to wear a helmet assuming they want to sell them.

  18. Can't tell you about the helmet but I doubt it depending on your state laws. It has a heater and reverse gear. Several color choices, water cooled engine, choice of standard or automatic transmission. You can get on the list to get one at the Elio website. www.elio.com

  19. Who really wants a two seater car?

  20. a single person or a couple w/ no kids

  21. I do.

  22. perfect price for a new econ car. please make it soon i will buy no doubt i will even buy it in ugly green.

  23. Sounds like a winner. Good gas mileage, safer than an actual motorcycle and lots of luxuries and the price is down in the affordable range. Hope they start production soon!

    As for concerns that some states won't allow it, hogwash. That is an easy fix since YOU elect the people who write the laws, if they won't fix the law problem, fire them and elect ones that will.

  24. will definitely buy not just one .. but three :)

  25. i want one

  26. I'm very interested in purchasing this car. Would like to know when they expect to have them available for purchase. Sounds like a great deal for the money and also for insurance purposes to register as a motorcycle.

  27. Cool ride. I would buy one.

  28. I don't even need to test drive it. I know it will fit my needs perfectly. i'll wait and keep riding my Suzuki c50 t and my Honda elite 80 until then. good luck elio. keith in Vancouver wa

  29. i love this car/tryk It has all the safty features that a big car has and more than a motorcycle, windsheild wipers roll bars, air bags,heater, all lights, and its covered in case of rain or cold,Wish the top could fold down when not in use, wonderful gas mileage, I thought I read 70-80 mpg. and will go 100 and something mph. not that I would ever want it to. Would love to get it and show it off in Michigan,

  30. To the guy that said "who wants a 2 seater car" I do!!!! I have had A trymph Spitfire convertable @ seat's and A Fiero, @ seater and loved them both. don't know why GM doesntcome back with the Fiero. I got wonderful gas milage. lover driving it. Had to drive it careful in the winter with slippery roads, but I drove it to work all the time.IN Michigan.iy

  31. $6800 and 50 city/ 80 Highway. Not bad...

  32. Sounds like a winner to compete with gasoline prices. I would like to know the engine and transmission manufacturer.

    Andy Redmond

  33. I started designing cars at five years of age, I am now seventy seven, and I have designed cars all my life. I design them on copy paper, and if I were to put them all in a box, I could not lift the box. But let me tell you what I do not want to design: contemporary cars. Contemporary cars basically all look the same, and they are boring! I have a motto: "Do It Different Or Don't Do It", that is the way I design cars. And as for the Elio Three Wheeler, their design team needs help.

  34. I'm very keen off the new Elio Threeweeler
    I would buy such a thing at once if it would be to buy in Germany.

  35. I would love to try this car it looks like so much fun

  36. I think this will be a great car. The only thing that I would like is to see one that would seat at least 4 like my '92 Geo Metro did. I got 50 MPG out of that and just loved it. Either way I will get one when they become available.

  37. Harry Morgan was years ahead with his "Cyclecar". very popular. I understand his "New" version for 2014 can be seen at: http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/morgan-3-wheeler-updated-2014

  38. The only thing stopping this automobile from going into production is the foot dragging by the government. If they would hurry up and approve all the exemptions from motorcycle regulations, and give it a safety rating of 5.0, it could get under way. Insurance companies need to get their stuff (eu) together and be ready when they do come onto the market. I am buying at least two, and maybe more if they are dependable and don't ride like a combat vehicle. A family of four could travel across country very cheaply even if they had to take two of them.

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