Elio Motors 84 mpg 3-wheeler (Image: Elio Motors)
But that's what Paul Elio has done with his Elio Motors firm, and though the vehicle in question is still a fair while from production reality, the company has a loyal following already.
So far, it's enough of a buzz that over 15,000 people have put down deposits for the car, according to Elio's website (via Autoblog Green).
That doesn't mean the company has 15,000 sales in the bag, of course.
Reservations can be made from as little as $100, though $250, $500 and even greater amounts can boost your position in the waiting list, if required. The bottom line, though, is that Elio cars don't require a Tesla-style $5,000 reservation.
If it did, you'd have nearly paid for the car in full: Elio is still touting a $6,800 starting point for the car, the low price being at least part of the reason that so many people are intrigued by the three-wheeler.
The other is the fuel efficiency, which again has remained consistent since the start. Highway mileage of 84 mpg could be possible, saving you money on fuel as well as purchase price.
It's led Elio to suggest the emissions from driving its cars 20,000 miles per year will produce lower greenhouse gases than the emissions of a cow.
There's some science behind that claim, naturally--a cow's gases are largely methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps as much as 20 times the heat of CO2 over a 100-year period.
Over a year, the cow will produce 4,840 lbs of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases. The Elio, over 20,000 miles, just 4,500 lbs.
Elio admits it's not the most conventional measure of CO2 output. Nor, we'd add, the most relevant (want to go for an Elio burger? No, us neither).
But it does illustrate the car's high efficiency and low emissions.
Now, it just remains to be seen whether Elio can deliver on its 2015 production date estimates, and its lofty sales targets. Those are less guaranteed than the loyal support of Elio's followers.
But as startup automakers go, it's one of the most intriguing around--and we'll continue to watch its progress with interest.