3-Wheeled, 84 MPG Elio Moves A Step Closer To Reality

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Remember Elio Motors?

If you're one of their 17,000 or so Facebook fans it'll be hard to forget, as the company's little green three-wheeled vehicle will be a regular fixture on your timeline.

As The Detroit News reports, Elio has just released a new prototype of the tiny gasoline-powered vehicle, set to be built at an ex-GM facility in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Alongside the prototype, Elio also announced the names of several suppliers on-board the project, including Altair Engineering, IAV, NEWTECH 3, Comau and more--many of which already serve dozens of other huge automakers.

With a claimed $6,800 price tag and an 84 mpg highway headline figure, the buzz surrounding the company isn't hard to understand. It seems to side-step the usual issue with personal transportation--it can be either economical, or it can be cheap, but it cannot do both to any great extent.

Too many fuel efficient vehicles, electric cars and others skim along the surface of reality without ever making a splash, priced way beyond what most can afford, or complex to the point no startup company can reasonably expect to survive.

But the Elio might be different. The looks of such a vehicle will always be an acquired taste, as will the two-seat tandem layout, but the fuel economy figures look great whoever you are, as does the price, and its use of a small-capacity gasoline engine keeps it endearingly simple too.

And while some might prefer such a thing to be powered by electricity, customers' familiarity with traditional engines might actually work in its favor.

The latest prototype's launch event attracted several hundred people, according to Elio's Facebook page, many of whom have already reserved an example of the car for $100.

We're naturally skeptical of three-wheeled vehicles from small companies, as they don't have the greatest track record for success. Take a bow, Aptera.

And it's only fair that we remain skeptical until Elio three-wheelers start pouring out of the factory gates... and seen the company stay afloat in those troublesome first few years.

But by "Keeping It Simple, Stupid", Elio might have a better chance than most at finding that economic sweet spot.


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Comments (10)
  1. The K.I.S.S philosophy will be the one thing that let's Elio succeed where all the others have failed. Get a base model out there that everyone can afford, and THEN move up. Baby steps!

  2. Cliff, "Get a base model out there that everyone can afford, and THEN move up. Baby steps!" This is exactly the attempted business model that killed most EV makers (some have died multiple times)except Tesla. It is very, very difficult to engineer and manufacture new technology AND sell it cheaply.

  3. This could be an excellent short term fix and then Segway to battery powered/plug-in models a few years later. By 2017 this thing could get easily get 300 miles on a 30 minute charge.

  4. The "problem" with three-wheelers is that, well, they have three wheels! Who are they going to get in America?

    A fuel-efficient, enclosed three-wheeler is still classified as a "motorcycle" or "other vehicle" in MANY states and either requires a separate driver's license or some sort of "local" waiver. What's more, they are not as "safe" as regular, fuel-efficient cars. (Note: lack of side air bags!)

    What's more $6,800 can get you A lot OF FUEL-EFFICIENT two wheel motorcycles, soooo... But what cyclist wants to be seen in an enclosed three-wheeler?

  5. crash rating? Safety?

  6. I wouldn't be worried about crash ratings and safety. Motorcyclists aren't. I'd love to buy one and drive it to work. My commute is on country roads and relatively traffic free.

  7. That will work for you. I always worry about the "other driver" that will do something wrong that cause a crash that end up killing others...

  8. No official data yet Xiaolong, so I didn't want to speculate either way, but the company does say the car will have airbags and suitable side-impact features etc.

  9. Thanks for the info.

  10. They should make a midlife-crisis version, to compete with the Morgan, for the dozen or so guys out there who are willing to spend $45,000 on a glorified tricycle. This version would be a convertible, natch, and have a turbo on that three-banger. Or, gosh, maybe even a four-banger. That way, it could get to 60 mph in the same calendar month as when you initially press down on the accelerator.

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