It may look a little unconventional, but the three wheeler Elio from Elio Motors may one day usher in a new era in economical motoring. The US built vehicle is the brainchild of engineer Paul Elio, and is scheduled to start production in an old GM Hummer plant in Louisiana sometime next year. The front engined, front wheel drive car, which is actually classified as a motorcycle, doesn’t scrimp on features or safety either, which is definitely different.
The car comes with three airbags, a reinforced roll-cage frame, Anti-Lock Braking System, and 50% larger crush zones than similar vehicles, and the company is anticipating that it will receive a 5 Star crash rating when it completes the approval process in the next few months. It also ships with power windows, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo and power lock.
However it’s the mileage, price and performance that most people will be interested in, and in these respects the vehicle really does set some nice standards. The top speed is 107 mph, it will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 8.2 secs and along with the 84 mpg highway it will offer up a very credible 49 mpg in city driving.
As you can see from the video below, it is a lot roomier than it looks from the outside, holding two adults with plenty of space, which is another indication of how seriously the manufacturers are about making this a practical vehicle for everyday use. The fact that it costs a fraction of the price of a normal car is also a big plus point, especially when mobility is so important for getting jobs and improving opportunities.
One of the things we really like about the project however, is the innovative financing option. Instead of just putting the car on finance, buyers get a credit card along with the vehicle, which they use to buy gas. They pay extra for the gasoline, part of which is the financing payment for the vehicle. It’s innovative and could open up the market to more people who may not have the immediate funds to buy.
One worrying aspect about the project is it seems to be a typical underfunded startup, which has already led to delays and changes in operations. This post goes into uncomfortable detail about the parlous state of the financial projections, which does lead to concern. However, there’s always a possibility that they’ll be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat, so we’re happy to give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
Even though history shows that these types of project often do not fare very well at all. Although it should be remembered that the Elio is a much less ambitious project in scope and technology.
For now, we’ll applaud their brave enterprising spirit and wish them well.