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Elio Takes Another Step Toward Building 3-Wheeler In Ex-GM Plant

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

Many in the green car industry are watching startup automaker Elio Motors with interest.

The company has big plans for its small three-wheeled car, as well as thousands of fans on social media networks and plenty of names on the order list.

Now, Elio also has a place to build its car, finally striking a deal to build its fuel-efficient tandem vehicle at the former General Motors assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Elio has long been eyeing the plant but having originally announced its intention to build there, plans to buy the plant outright fell through last September.

Instead, Elio took up a deal to lease space in the plant from the facility's new owners, Caddo Parish Commissioners and property developer Industrial Realty Group (IRG).

Those plans, says M Live, have now been finalized. Elio will rent approximately 1.5 million square feet of the facility from IRG, with plans to hire 1,500 workers and begin producing cars in 2015.

The small three-wheeled vehicle has a big fan following, and looking at the proposed numbers it isn't hard to see why.

The headline figure is 84 mpg highway, facilitated by a small frontal area and gas-sipping gasoline engine. The other headline figure is the price, which hasn't risen above the $6,800 originally proposed when the vehicle was revealed this time last year.

Low weight promises fun handling and decent performance, while Elio even claims high safety standards, despite the minimalist appearance. There are airbags, a radio, air conditioning--all the basic amenities buyers expect.

The big question is not of the car itself, but whether Elio's momentum can be sustained.

Elio says it has recently raised more than $7 million to help develop build its vehicle, but the company still needs to meet some heady targets to make good on its future financials.

There's an appealing simplicity to the Elio 3-wheeler but as ever, precedents set by previous startup automakers--not least the equally-anticipated Aptera--mean Elio really has its work cut out over the next few years--factory or not.

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