$7,000 84-mpg Elio car moves forward with new production plant


January 8, 2014

Elio Motors announces its next step toward production

Elio Motors announces its next step toward production

Image Gallery (10 images)

Elio Motors is taking the next big step toward the production of its 84-mpg (2.8 L/100km) tandem three-wheeler. It won't quite make its original Summer 2014 start, but it plans to get Elios rolling off the lines next year at the former General Motors Shreveport Assembly and Stamping Plant in Louisiana.

In the wake of the purchase of the plant by the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board, Elio is moving forward with its plans to rent 1.5 million sq ft (139,000 sq m) of space. Elio also mentions that part of the remaining 2.6 million sq ft (242,000 sq m) of plant space may be rented by some of its suppliers.

"This has been an extremely exciting week not just for me personally, but for the entire Elio Motors team," says Paul Elio, CEO and founder of Elio Motors. "We’ve had an incredible amount of momentum, which has led us to a new plant that will be the foundation for building the new vehicle. Plus, we also raised over $7 million to help us move forward."

"My dream has been to build a new kind of safe, reliable, fuel-efficient vehicle here in the United States. Acquiring this plant and all of the equipment in a fully operational state will allow Elio Motors to thrive right off the bat once commercial vehicle production begins in 2015."

Elio projects that it will create 1,500 new jobs in the Shreveport area, beginning its hiring push later this year and completing it by late 2015. It plans to start vehicle production in the first quarter of 2015.

Since we covered the Elio last spring, its engine has been updated to a 55-hp 0.9-liter inline three-cylinder. Other specs, including the 84-mpg highway fuel economy, 100-mph (161 km/h) top speed and 672-mile (1,081 km) range, remain the same, as does the projected price of US$6,800.

Check out our gallery for photos of the current Elio design from CES 2014, the latest stop on the prototype's ongoing tour around the country.

Source: Elio Motors

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Wow! That 3-cylinder engine looks sooo 'Made in China' .... and with a few 'prototypes' already on the road, I have to agree with other comments above: That fuel mileage claim definitely needs to be verified by a trusted independent laboratory. I doubt that any amount of aerodynamic streamlining - plus fine tuning of the propulsion and drive components - is going get that beast much past 45 to 50 MPG under practical driving conditions.

However... this may be a better idea: With the emergence of new battery technology, plus mass production driving down the costs, they'd almost be better off making that thing a plug-in electric. Priced at anything under $9 Grand, it would storm the market.


3 wheel Casket.

Tom Dingels

OMG I might have to buy one of these after all!! I got in at $100 "just to see", then I read Jo Borras's really nasty (but accurate) summary, and figured this probably isn't going anywhere. Oh well if it happens, I'll pay up. I'll have a gen-1.


Its a great Idea, I'm guessing they can be produced relatively inexpensively due to not meeting all the government regulations for cars since they qualify as a motorcycle with 3 tires. Now if they could just put a small (but powerful) turbo diesel engine in it.


I like it.


Twice the economy of my two cylinder motorcyle? crazy claim

Ozuzi's not exposed motorcycle rider is much higher and has a much high drag coefficient. Simple physics.

In fact the VW Polo gets almost 70 mpg on the highway with four seats and a normal car cross section. You just can't buy one in the United States thanks to the DOT.

The much thinner Elio should be able to achieve those numbers. Like DLK811, I too wish they would have opted for a smaller turbo diesel. It probably would have spiked over 100mpg on the highway easily.


I wager Elio will make a slightly more expensive model with a turbo-diesel, but one step at a time - they have to make and succeed with the original Elio first!

Joel Detrow

Great idea as a commuter vehicle that would be a blessing on fuel consumption. When competing with SUVs and CUVs they wouldn't have the carrying capacity but to travel between point A and B convenience would be paramount. Wishing them well in this venture.

Christopher Borden

I don't think a 1+1 seating position will sell well. GM did studies in the 50's regarding this and they weren't favorable. I would normally say this company is doomed to failure but the Board includes David Schembri (from Mercedes) and Kenneth Way (from Lear) so I'd say they're not aiming to scale up slowly (not your typical start-up). The unnecessarily large building no doubt is due to their other board member Stuart Lichter. It sounds like Lichter pushed for a lease, on one of the largest commercial real estate properties in his portfolio, with this start-up (which he also happens to serves as a board member). Dumping a large building on this start-up probably wasn't a good idea for scaling up but they were probably able to get a good tax incentive from the city/county/state to fill it. They'll also be in the location to get some of the cheapest skilled labor in the country to build it. Good Luck Elio

Matt Fletcher

Hopeful that there are enough Americans who are the opposite of the huge SUV buying neanderthals. The main stumbling block in America is one of perception. Difficult to believe but true, there are many millions of people who actually look at some stupid machine like the escalade, and view it as an aspirational vehicle. Oh look at me I am so wealthy I can waste resources just to drive myself around!

People with healthy egos drive whatever suits them. Some even more able people want something like this vehicle. A sporty looking vehicle which also gives you fantastic fuel mileage.

Best of luck Elio!


Sign me up. Glad I've kept my motorcycle license active :-D

Boyce Peele

The financials value in this article is incorrect. To day, Elio has raised $47M in capital. Additionally, there are over 6300 paid reservations with at least 2140 non-refundable reservations of $1000 from prospective customers (I'm number 2140).


I feel sorry for whoever the driver ends up dating.

Micah Houchin

"I got in at $100 "just to see", then I read Jo Borras's really nasty (but accurate) summary, and figured this probably isn't going anywhere. "

Jo Borras's continual scathing attacks of Elio have accomplished only one thing: the marginalization of Joe Borras. He had made some valid financial points, but his articles are so full of obvious technical and legal errors that he should be ignored.

Mike Barnett

Micah, not if the driver lets the date drive. :)

I think this is really cool. There are other small cars out there that people buy; ie, Smart Fortwo, Fiat 500, Mini Cooper, Toyota Yaris, etc. Not everyone wants a big car. Hopefully there is enough of a market for the Elio to keep it going. Personally, I think it is really nice. If it does get produced, it is on my list of possible future cars.


I'm only waiting to test drive one. Then, unless the outcome is extremely negative, I'll buy one to replace my 2 wheel motorcycle. I like to solo camp and this machine looks like something I can do that as well as my daily commute in. And it looks like one hell of a lot of fun!


Here we go again...

1 more super dangerous 3 wheeled vehicle.


Lewis Dickens

I'm with Micah. I have no problem with the 1+1 seating, but ingress/egress will be an issue, and well as a claustrophobic feel when in the rear seat. If the roofline had been kept tall, and a second door added (perhaps on the opposite side), would add some practicality.

Bruce H. Anderson

I'm Elio reservation holder #1054, and will soon hold another reservation. I typically drive a huge SUV 4x4 that gets 11mpg, I got tired of driving that daily so I purchased a nice touring motorcycle. I have a couple of smaller cars also. What drew me to Elio was the perfect timing, cost, economics, and style. I was in the process of saving a down payment for a new startup called LitMotors. Their new concept is all electric, 2 wheel enclosed self stabilizing motorcycle. First year production set to begin at 24K, in the mean time I wanted to upgrade my motorcycle to something with more comfort like a Honda Gold Wing or a BMW K1600GTL. Both starting in the mid 20'sK and up. About 8 months ago I came across Elio and stopped all those other efforts, investigated Elio Motors history and Board. A week later I placed my $1000.00 non-refundable deposit. The car brings all the primary goals I was searching for: fuel savings, comfortability, and under 20K. Another added bonus, this new Elio Motors vehicle wasn't using any cutting edge technology, which drives costs up. I will drive this 95% of the time, and my other vehicles when the need arises.

Cherokee Warrior

I'm interested, but I'm not crazy enough to put any money down till they've had a few roll off the lot and gotten reviewed. If they start selling some next year, I'll be paying a visit to a dealership.

Keith Lamb

Those front wheels are draggy. I question the mileage claim, too...along with the price, actual North American labor/parts content and production launch date. They should send one of the prototypes to an independent testing facility to back the mileage claim. I wish them luck, but I also advise caution to the investors.

The mileage claim is legitimate. It is essentially a three wheel motorcycle with streamlining. Motorcycles are not efficient due to three problems. The greatest is lack of streamlining. The second is that most motorcycles are built with very high powered engines and to make it worse many motorcycles are too heavy. This new cycle-car has great advantages. The fear factor from the competition will result in every possible, established company playing dirty are trying to force failure. Realize that most decent sized motorcycles are far greater than $7,000 so the designed price is right in the face of the big three auto makers as well as the motorcycle industry. Jim Sadler

Having owned an autocycle (3 wheel enclosed cab vehicle), I remember some states outlawing them entirely or requiring helmet usage. I hope they are able to beat back those regulations before they come to market. If it were electric, it would be a dream come true. Well there's always v2.


Last year Elio claimed to be coming out this year. Now it's next year. Is this going to be another Aptera fiasco? Speaking of Aptera I thought it was a three wheeler getting well over 100 mpg. Why can't Elio get that? And why did the Aptera disappear? Didn't it prove itself at the X-Prize?

I have been waiting 50 years for this platform and all I hear is unfulfilled promises.

Don Duncan

The price is right but the claim of aerodynamic is questionable. What's up with those bug-eye head lamps? And the rear view mirrors that stick out? Why don't they give the drag coefficient? Is the undercarriage sealed? What is the weight?

Why only pictures with no specs? Is this a scam?

Don Duncan

@ Lewis M. Dickens III Vehicles are not dangerous, the drivers are! I ride a tadpole recumbent trike and I can go faster on corners than SUV on downhills, safely. It would be more dangerous if there were two wheels on back and one on the front!

@ DLK811 Which government you are talking about? UK, France, Germany or perhaps Finland :p

Henry Van Campa

I'm a fan of the two wheels up front/ one at the rear format, with several moderately successful designs of this type being available in the UK, such as the Grinnall Scorpion, Morgan Trike, and the Citroen 2CV-based Lomax 223 (one of which I've had the pleasure of driving).

However, I would not consider one as a primary year-round commuter, since in wet weather they are particularly vulnerable to patches of diesel (as are motorbikes) and in icy or snowy weather- that rear wheel is going to in between the ruts, making driving extremely difficult.

Therefore, I suspect that these will not replace conventional 4 wheelers, but could augment a conventional car for year round use- and if that other car happened to be an SUV, then at least it would be used to its best advantage (marginal weather) and not at other times, except when there is a need for more space than the Elio could provide.


Bought in with the $100 deal too.Gonna be funny having a 84MPG 3 wheeler next to my 8MPG F550.Maybe I can rig up some ramps and park the Elio on the bed to save space.Or carry it around every once in a while and just say I am carrying a spare.

Jonathan Rutledge

Don't see how they can do it for $7,000 retail? Believe many aging boomer motorcyclists might go this route. Surely they will add a convertible later?

What's so dangerous with 2 wheels in the front? Get tired of the negative comments. Those that think "out of the box" should be congratulated.

Hope they do well.


The car has a terrific safety rating by an independent company. And regardless of the criticism, it would bode well for all of us to support their efforts.

The 1+1 seating wasn't popular in the fifties. Neither was saving electricity or natural gas. Duh! Things change.

John Mauldin

I'm in for $250.00. I need one for my daily 35+ mile commute drive to/from work. Look like it is fun to drive. I'm going to deck mine out with under the car LED lights.

Roger Rigal

If you doubters spent a little time at the Elio website and blog, you would know that the pictured car is the #3 test mule, not even the first prototype of the production model. On the production model, the headlights will be flush to the body, the front wheels will be skirted, and the rear end has been tweaked for more aerodynamics. I've been in the Elio, and it takes about 30 seconds to realize that you have more side to side room in the Elio than in most compact cars. The rear seat is pretty roomy, too, and I didn't find it claustrophobic. It's no more difficult to get into than any 2 door coupe with back seats... in fact, it's easier than some. And there is no need to have two doors unless you have a split personality - after all, you get out of the same door every time you drive your current car, right? Also, with only one major opening, the cabin structure is potentially far stronger than with two. The one+one seating will appeal to motorcycle riders, as well as younger people (and some of us old codgers) who like stuff that's different (pilots will find it fun, too). I haven't gotten to the point of a deposit, but I'm pretty close to doing it - this is serious innovation, and if Elio can pull it off, it will be a great thing for the economy and the environment.

Mike Barnett

I want one too since I don't have a job, I can start by saving coins and by the time they come out I will have enough!

Matthew Lee

In Texas this car is considered a car. No motorcycle license required. Various member states in the Union will have their own laws regarding this car. Check your own laws to see what you need.

James Kimm

I hope this succeeds, but it's hard to see how they can meet the price projection. Stop by a motorcycle store or a farm and ranch vehicle store and see how much metal and plastic you really get for $7,000.

If they can deliver 50 mpg for $9,999 out the door in the next year I'll be pleasantly surprised.


The idea that three wheels = deathtrap is bullcookie. Any poorly balanced vehicle is dangerous. If I was building a 3 wheel vehicle of my own I would go with a delta and a 2 ring flywheel energy recovery system. I don't want to have to deal with front end alinements on a three wheeler.


About time! Look around when you are driving down the highway. How many empty seats can you count? This vehicle is designed for the single driver. Clear market "niche."

Seth Miesters

Now why not an air cooled 67 VW engine in this thing-cheaper and no need for water cooling! How about winter use and clerance where one has lots of snow, why not a side door for pass snd groceries? Note all the changes thesmartfor fwo had to go through to meet needs of consumers?

Bill Black

While I'm not "in" as an owner yet, the concept is intriguing, and I hope to see them on the road. Good luck, Elio!


Count me as a doubter. Claims of such a low price make me skeptical. It's not that much more than the price of a motorcycle yet claims to have tons more amenities, like windshield wipers, power windows and air conditioning. And as Tesla proved, $7 million or even $47 million isn't enough to start a new vehicle manufacturer. Tesla was hemorrhaging tens of millions every month. At worst, this will be vaporware like Aptera. At best, a failure with lots of vehicle problems like the infamous Yugo or the Corbin Sparrow. Let's not forget Delorean or Tucker. Not to mention Vectrix, which lost money on every bike it sold, until it finally had to declare bankruptcy.

I do wish Lewis Dickens above would stop spreading his "three wheels is dangerous" FUD, especially since he has never answered any challenge from other readers to produce evidence.


Nice vehicle for a multi-vehicle household. I don't think it was ever intended to be a single persons only vehicle, but it might work as one in CA, FL, or TX. I will definitely be test driving one when they come out.

Mike Kling
1041 on the list-

Those complaining about how " unsafe design - unsafe this and that " - please tie your shoe laces together and stay home -

Motorcycles - 2 or 3 wheel designed are not "unsafe " until either the driver/rider makes a gross error In judgement OR the vehicle is overpowered by another less observant driver in a 4 or more wheeled vehicle....... All other times , they seem to play well together on the highway. Are you going to get hurt if hit in or on a motorcycle ---- duhhhh! Don't get one if this is YOUR fear. All riders know the risk of owning such excitement. Tandem seating nay-sayers -- 1 question. When you drive to work each day how many people are sitting in your 4 passenger car or 3-8 passenger minivan or truck ? Usually just 1 person per vehicle . This Elio is not a replacement vehicle , it is a sensible supplemental addition to what you don't want to get rid of - your car. Gas mileage claims -- my 89 Subaru Justy did well at 55 mpg and it had a 3 cylinder engine with A/C that worked also--- if I were to drive half a Justy ( 3 wheel tandem setup ) , I'm sure my gas mileage would have been much higher . I have been wanting a 3-wheeler since the popular mechanics article on how to build one ( urbasport I believe ). Later the TriMagnum , Corbin Merlin and even bought the plans for the XR3 . Not for everybody --- but the design and practicality and coolness factor will sell for sure !


@ Seth Miesters How many cars do you own? Most people can't afford a special car for commuting to go with the car that fits their spouse, kids, and pets for trips to to Grandma.


The Elio website lists the engine as being a 70hp engine. The prototype makes do with the 55hp donor engine. So the info posted is not correct. The newest prototype has had refinement to streamlining which includes virtually full front wheel covering. I sure hope this works, as I want to put my deposit down soon.

Doug Danzeisen Sr

Awesome price for another start up car with all the comforts found on a "normal" 4 wheeled counterpart! This is the one that I'm betting will go all the way to production and if they keep their promise of $6,800 not including the necessary taxes of course, then I'm buying one! Why so? For one, This is not another APTERA with "carbon fiber" bodies- very expensive to make like exotic cars! No expensive li-ion batteries that can go far while sweating because turning on the airconditioning will shorten your drive! That also explains the high price of these failed start ups! Elio motors embraced the proven 3 cylinder motor in an enclosed environment, made it sleek for aerodynamics and what they've got is a winner! This can easily be mass produced using regular sheet metals for skin like regular cars. And who says I'm sharing a ride with anybody else.... this is my personal ride got it? Another cool thing is Elio motor can easily offer a "TURBO CHARGE VERSION" in the future without breaking the bank or doing extreme mods because of the engine's simple layout! Adding more horses on this baby will be easy and still saves gas.


Wow, some nice speeches from people considering they only just bought a shed to start work in! I'll buy one for sure if they can meet the safety standards to be released here. I still think the economy claims are dreams considering they also want 100mph, but I'd buy one if the actual efficiency is just 'pretty good' if it can get away decently. I wouldn't buy a turbo diesel anything driving just one wheel, the no-power-then-surge characteristics could get that wheel spinning unpredictably which would be terrible on wet corners. And yes I drive current model turbo diesels at work.


Ozuzi, It's front wheel drive. It's not going to have a stability issue on slick roads.

Everyone else, Before making negative comments try reading more about it so you don't sound stupid.


I saw this at SEMA in LasVegas and i like it, I wonder if i could put a small trailer behind it .

Monty Griffiths

I wonder if they will take the Elio to the 74th Annual Sturgis ® Motorcycle Rally, August 4-10, 2014.

Will the vehicle make the trip distance? I don't know engine size, etc. All I can do right now is look at the pictures.

I just remember driving my 74 MGB and feel this unit looks like a great replacement to a full size 2000 Mitsubishi Galant, that needs a lot of repair $$$. That car went through and survived 2 daughters who had to learn to drive, etc. They have their own cars now and on their own.

Because it's enclosed and the 2 wheels are in front, I feel I would have the same turning driving concept.

Hoping the inside will be plush like some of the sports cars. Doesn't have to be striped down & basic like the inside of the MGB.

Hope to drive one some time this year.


The Elio is like any other vehicle. Some will like, others not. For example, I like Chevrolet's but do not like Ford's. It is all in the preference of the user and their needs. Some people are knocking them but that is to be expected like anything else. For us, we love the concept, the price and the safety rating which is projected to be 5 star. It has all the safety features as a standard car. If you do not like, don't buy! We are considering purchasing once we can see and drive as will use for our secondary car. They are producing the car in the USA, using USA suppliers so kudos for them for staying in the country. Means alot. Best of luck to Elio and hoping for huge success!!

Debbie Stoner

I'm all in for the $1000 and waiting for my production number. As a retired Air Force and commercial pilot, the "cockpit" of the Elio reminds me of my old Mooney. I can't wait for production to start so I do a little low "flying" across the Nevada desert again. All you nervous, fearful bystanders out there need to "think big or stay home." If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.


eliomotorsscam dot com has some pretty interesting history. Might be enough to make someone think twice, or at the very least take some time and wait and see how far this goes.

LetMe TheReason

As a traveling salesman, I average 2,650 miles per month. Going from 20 to 80 MPG, at $3.65/gal, the car would pay for itself in 22 months.

I considered their pre-purchase program but the reward isn't quite great enough to risk loosing the deposit if the company busts.

The uniqueness of the vehicle might help in my line of sales. I have to wonder if it is really a year-round vehicle in the high desert/sierras. Also if I have to wear a helmet, that might be a deal breaker.


The Elio seems to good to be true, which is the common definition of a scam. However, I was willing to gamble/throw away $100 on the chance that it actually makes it to market. The mileage figure seems plausible to me given the poor aerodynamics of most motorcycles yet some still get very good mileage, when that is a design priority. The price of the Elio seems unrealistic though, compared to other vehicles. Most motorcycles cost more. Still, even at a couple or three thousand more, it'd be a good deal. I hope they manage to pull if off and enjoy great success.


Need to support this effort. This kind of thinking is what we need to keep our travel and energy independence. I'm all in for 100.

David Perkins

A comment made ,it gets better mileage than my 2 cylinder motorcycle,crazy claim,and thats it is a death trap.Both are wrong Motorcycles are not fuel efficient,only the smallest engines offer up any economy,the average cruiser ,35-50 mpg,why?because they have a lot of drag,they are not aerodynamic.Wrap a low drag body around a big Harley,80 mpg plus.Safety,don't be fooled into believing that a small vehicle with 2,3 or 4 wheels is a death trap,they can be built to be very safe.BMW built a 3 wheeled concept the Clever,anybody can go online and read the crash data,and it was a prototype,a production version would be much better had they wanted to build it.It proved to be very safe in crash testing.The car manufactures and oil companies would love for everyone to accept things as they are,they can continue to increase there profit margins and the oil companies,do you really think they would decrease the cost of fuel,if the demand was cut in half,no,they would increase it,to offset their loses.Wake up people.The Elio could be built as a four wheeler,I just don't think it offers anything other than cost.


Does it come with training wheels? lol

Ace Kogut

The typical 700cc Honda motorcycle is $7000, and it does not have 2 seats, seat belts, airbags, air conditioning, audio system, and a body. Plus the owner was supposed to be in production 4 years ago, and so far has only raised 25% of his $200 million get started goal. I'll see you all on those cool 3 wheel'ers when I'm looking out the window at the nursing home. SUCKERS!

Thomas Stratford

It's been 23 years since I've been able to ride a conventional motorcycle. The Elio will offer an automatic transmission (possibly in the form of CVT. I have looked around for the past 20 years trying to- fin a durable, predictable way to adapt the foot operated shifter into a form I can use (can't reach the shifter as my left leg is permanently straight).

As for the safety concerns raised by other readers, the Elio will have airbags. Show me one motorcycle that can claim that status. I will feel just as safe in an Elio as in any sub-compact car. A highways prime occupant is a semi truck and few vehicles will come out ahead in a wreck with a truck. It's my risk to take and frankly it's no more a risk than any other small vehicle.

I live out in the desert of western Arizona. 110 degrees for extended periods is common. A/C is not a convenience - it is a necessity. With a sub-liter engine under the hood, electrically powered A/C, power steering appear to be appropriate drive method. Detroit is heading down that road now, and manufacturers such as Elio will benefit from their knowledge and research.

If I am going to buy a vehicle, I do not want a monthly payment. Cash and carry. Maybe not literally...well, given its low curb weight...;)

Now, if al you can do is complain, DON"T BUY ONE! Seems to be the simplest answer.

Noel K Frothingham

Being American made is awesome! We need jobs and lot of them. I lie the optional parts you can buy with the Elio to make look better. About looking better. I know it's a Gen-1. so the Elio motors company should take a hint from successful manufacturers, and build a better looking gen-2 now! Then I'll be interested. $7grand isn't a lot of money, but you still have to like what you're driving.


Five years ago Saab came out with a 3cyl diesel engine that got 120mpg. Eilo should consider them for a diesel version of their car !

John Golling
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