Elio update: Overstock gives 84-mpg automaker a shot, with a cryptocurrency twist


Elio E1A test vehicle, June 2016

Elio E1A test vehicle, June 2016

Enlarge Photo

Fledgling automaker Elio Motors said it has good news this week for its three-wheeled car, which has been delayed for several years.

KTBS in Shreveport, Louisiana, reported last week that the company's founder, Paul Elio, would offer an update on the company's promises to build a small car that costs less than $8,000 and  is reported to return more than 80 mpg.

Elio Motors, with taxpayers' help, leased a former General Motors production facility in Louisiana, but production of the car hasn't yet started.

Elio promised it would employ around 1,500 workers by 2015. In its 2016 annual filing to investors, the company reported it had 28 employees and spent more than $27 million in research since 2014. The company reported more than 63,000 reservations for the car.

Critics have called for the company to detail its finances after it spent millions in deposits and investor money without producing a car.

A spokesman for Elio didn't immediately comment on the report.

Elio E1A test vehicle under construction, June 2016

Elio E1A test vehicle under construction, June 2016

Enlarge Photo

Last month, Elio said it had sold about $2.5 million in stock to Overstock.com to help pay off debt and move closer to production. The companies also announced a joint cryptocurrency venture, called "ElioCoin," to help fund the oft-delayed vehicle.

Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne said in a statement that his company would help bring to market Elio's small car, which could be sold on his retail website. Selling ElioCoin will help fund the car too.

“It is our fondest hope that, once issued and cleared for trading, ElioCoin may trade on the blockchain-based securities trading platform that is in development at (an Overstock subsidiary),” Byrne said in a statement. Byrne and Overstock were early-adopters of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and own a platform to develop their own called tZERO.

It's unclear what Elio may tell investors on Friday, although it's likely the recent Overstock investment will be one of the topics.

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