Elio Motors founder Paul Elio at New York Auto Show press conference, Apr 2015
Paul Elio told investors and media Friday in Shreveport, Louisiana, that his three-wheeled car would go on sale next year after several delays and questions about funding.
"I believe this project has to happen," Elio said.
Elio told media that his company had raised more than $110 million for a three-wheeled car that would cost $7,500 and manage 84 mpg when it goes on sale. Elio said production vehicles would start rolling off the lines in 76 weeks "plus a few weeks," sometime after October 2019.
Elio Motors would need roughly $376 million to begin production, the company has said publicly. Elio said Friday that the company would raise money for production through a cryptocurrency release.
“We need hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. The cryptocurrency offering should get the company to "cashflow positive," he added.
In 2013, taxpayers in Shreveport purchased a shuttered GM facility for $7.5 million and leased it to Elio. The fledgling automaker pledged to employ more than 1,500 workers by 2015, but reported just 28 employees in 2016.
“I’m not here asking for money. I’m here for an update…we need to get those jobs there," he said.
Officials at Friday's press conference said that Elio acknowledged that he had not effectively communicated with taxpayers in Shreveport, but also said Elio couldn't answer crucial questions about the company's finances because of SEC rules.
Last month, Overstock.com announced a $2.5 million investment in Elio and said it would help back the company in a cryptocurrency offering that would help raise money to build cars.
Elio didn't answer many questions about the coming cryptocurrency, including its anticipated revenue, value, or timing for release. Elio said he would update local Shreveport officials at a closed-door meeting about his fundraising later.
Elio faced critical questions about his ability to produce a car from the factory and how much money he's raised so far. He said the former GM plant had "many" of the tools and machines he needed for production, and said the company would not have to buy many machines to produce the future car.
About 150 prototypes will be built between now and October, Elio said Friday, but he didn't specify how many workers he would need to build those cars. Elio said he was confident that his company could fulfill the 65,000 orders it's received for the three-wheeled cars, but Elio didn't specify when all of those orders would be fulfilled.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Elio's production timeline. Elio said production vehicles would be built in 76 weeks "plus a few weeks."