Your next RV toad car could have two seats, three wheels, get 84 miles to the gallon, and cost only $6,800.
Phoenix, Arizona-based Elio Motors wants to revolutionize American roads with its tiny car, which is the same length as a Honda Fit but half the weight and less than half the cost. With a curb weight around 1,200 pounds, the Elio would be the lightest passenger car on the road.
Perhaps ironically, Elio Motors plans to build the new three-wheeler at the former General Motors’ plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, that used to build the 8,400-pound Hummers.
Founded by automotive engineer Paul Elio in 2008, Elio Motors is scheduled to begin production next March with an initial hire of 1,500 workers. The company hopes to sell 50,000 cars during its first full year and as many as 250,000 units annually after five years.
More than 27,000 people have already reserved one. So far, reservation holders are older, more affluent buyers who will use the Elio as a second or third car for commuting.
Eventually, though, Elio believes the car will appeal to high school and college students as well as used-car drivers who want something newer and more reliable. He also hopes to eventually export it to other countries.
Officially classified as a motorcycle because it has fewer than four wheels, the Elio is nonetheless mechanically more car than it is bike. It has a conventional steering wheel, foot pedals, and shift lever and will come powered by a three-cylinder, 0.9 liter, 55 horsepower, fuel-injected automotive engine that drives the front wheels via either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Traction control, stability control, and antilock brakes will come standard. Its two front wheels stick out by a foot on both sides, aiding balance and preventing the vehicle from tipping.
The Elio has a top speed of more than 100 miles per hour and gets an estimated 84 mpg on the highway and 49 mpg in city driving.
The Elio is engineered to achieve a five-star crash rating by automotive standards with unibody construction, a hardened steel roll cage, crumple zones at the front and rear, and added side impact protection.
It would typically require motorcycle registration and plates but whether it would require a motorcycle license in most states to legally operate has yet to be determined.
The Elio’s two seats sit front and back instead of side by side, so the driver is positioned in the center with the passenger directly behind. That arrangement, plus the low seating position—the Elio is just 54 inches tall—and the lack of power steering may take a little getting used to.
Elio keeps the costs down in several ways. The car only has one door, on the left side. Having three wheels also makes it cheaper.
It has standard air conditioning, power windows and door locks, and an AM/FM radio. More features, such as navigation or blind-spot detection, can be ordered through Elio’s suppliers.
Elio will also save money by selling the cars directly through a network of its own stores and not through franchised dealers. Elio plans stores in 60 major metropolitan areas with multiple locations in each. They’ll be serviced by car repair chain Pep Boys.
The Elio is all about providing basic transportation on a budget, and from that standpoint the final production version may indeed deliver the goods. Whether sufficient commuters and RVers, otherwise accustomed to larger and more powerful rides, will embrace the tiny three-wheeled Elio in sufficient numbers for the company to turn a profit remains to be seen.
Elio Motors, Inc.
Elio Motors was founded in 2008 by Mr. Paul Elio. The mission and desire of the project was to provide affordable transportation for commuters and, at the same time, provide vital American jobs.
Address: 2942 North 24th Street, Suite 114-700 Phoenix, AZ 85016
Phone: (480) 500-6800 or (844) 289-3546 (toll free)
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