Is it possible to use political satire to sell a car?
In the age of social media and viral marketing, carmakers have tried some pretty unusual stunts in order to sell their vehicles (think Matthew McConaughey's deadpan stoner Lincoln ads).
But this combination may be among the most bizarre yet.
Elio Motors is partnering with The Onion to market its low-cost, three-wheeled "84-mpg" car.
Jokingly billed as "America's Finest News Source," The Onion specializes in satirical fake-news pieces that mirror the style and format of traditional newspaper articles and other media content.
Like much of The Onion's current content, the ad campaign for Elio Motors will focus on the 2016 presidential election.
Elio Motors 84 mpg 3-Wheeler [Image: Elio Motors]Enlarge Photo
Because, while Democrats and Republicans disagree on many things, they can agree on the appeal of a fuel-efficient, two-seat, three-wheeled car.
At least, that's the general pitch of the ads.
The first video shows a stereotypical liberal and a typecast conservative (in blue and red shirts, naturally) fighting over the privilege of driving an Elio three-wheeler.
(If only bridging the partisan gap were really that simple.)
The video will be followed up with further ads linked to The Onion's political content, intended to run between now and November.
It's unclear whether Elio's bipartisan message will resonate, but the company needs to maintain interest in its three-wheeler as it continues to work to raises the funds it must have before it starts production.
Elio Motors 84 mpg 3-wheeler [Image: Elio Motors]Enlarge Photo
In March, Elio claimed to have more than $300 million in pre-orders for its three-wheeled car, with 50,000 reservations on the waiting list.
Individual customers will pay a "target" starting price of $6,800 if or when full production at Elio's former General Motors plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, starts.
Most customers orders likely won't be filled until 2017, at the earliest.
Elio has said it plans to build 100 "pre-production" models this year, which will be distributed to fleet customers.
It's unclear how those vehicles—which Elio originally planned to keep for its own testing—will differ from the final production models that will be sold to individual buyers.
However, the company still needs tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of additional funding before it can begin full-scale production of customer cars.