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Elio Motors highlights its $7,000, 84-mpg 3-wheeled car


May 16, 2013

The Elio 3-wheeler

The Elio 3-wheeler

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Scheduled to sell for less than half the price of the current cheapest car in America, the Elio is a 3-wheeled "car" that hopes to shake up the automotive world. It eschews the trendy electric powertrain for a small gas system, but thanks to its small, light, aerodynamic design, it promises to keep drivers away from the gas pumps for as long as possible.

The 2-seat (1+1) Elio uses a 70-hp 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine, which is in the front. While that may sound entirely impotent compared to pretty much every other car on the road, the small 3-wheeler is able to hit speeds of up to 100 mph (161 km/h), which should be plenty for all highway driving. It can hit 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 9.6 seconds.

More importantly, the small powertrain sips gas like it's using a tiny straw and a shot glass, delivering a highway fuel economy of up to 84 mpg (2.8 l/100 km) and a city fuel economy of 49 mpg (4.8 l/100 km). With just 8 gallons (30 liters) of gas onboard, the Elio can drive up to 672 miles (1,081 km) – that's a trip from New York to Detroit without ever filling up.

Other Elio equipment includes disc brakes with ABS; 15-inch wheels; a 5-speed automatic transmission; and independent suspension with unequal length control arms, coil-over-spring and shock in the front, and mono-shock with coil-over-spring and shock in the rear. The car measures 160.5 inches (4.1 m) long and has a 110-inch (2.8-m) wheelbase and 66.8-inch (1.7 m) front track. Despite the car's diminutive package, Elio Motors claims that it can fit 95 percent of men and has even tested it with 6-foot 8-inch (2 m) and 325-pound (147-kg) occupants. It promises that trunk space will be at least 27 x 14 x 10 inches (68.6 x 35.6 x 25.4 cm).

Elio Motors isn't ready to send its 3-wheeler out to dealers just yet, but it is claiming that the car will cost US$6,800 when it hits the market. The sub-$10,000 car disappeared from the United States a couple years ago, and the $12,000 2013 Nissan Versa currently holds the title of cheapest in the country. That's a big price drop if you're willing to forgive the lack of a fourth wheel.

Elio's price isn't one of those obnoxious base prices that excludes radio, air conditioning, seats, door handles ... it includes all those things, plus a heater, defroster, power windows, power door locks and three airbags.

Of course, while the Elio is super-cheap compared to other cars, it isn't quite a car. Even in Elio's home state of Louisiana, 3-wheeled vehicles are classified as motorcycles, requiring a motorcycle license and helmet. Elio is working with the legislature in getting HB218 passed into law. The bill, which passed the Louisiana Senate earlier this week and was sent back to the House with amendments, would exempt vehicles like the Elio from motorcycle requirements.

Even if it's successful in Louisiana, however, the vehicle will face similar issues in other states – we don't see many people buying it if they have to get a separate motorcycle license and wear a helmet inside the cabin. Elio told us that it does plan to sell the car in all 50 states and has a government affairs team working on similar legislation in other states where vehicle laws threaten the Elio's status and acceptance.

As for its claim that this is a car and not a 3-wheeled motorcycle, Elio Motors points to the enclosed cabin and its underlying structure, which includes a reinforced roll cage and 50 percent larger crush zones than similar vehicles. The company even anticipates it getting a 5-star safety rating.

"What do you see when you look at the Elio?" Elio inquires on its website. "Fully enclosed, power windows, wiper blades, steering wheel, gas and brake pedals … you be the judge."

Of course, it also mentions that the vehicle is considered a motorcycle by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Its executives and lobbyists have some work to do in making the case that it is indeed a car and can be driven as such.

Elio Motors plans to begin production on the Elio by July 2014 in Shreveport, Louisiana. It held a press conference last week to announce its supply partners, and promised that not only will production be in the U.S., but 95 percent of materials will also be American-made. The more than 20 suppliers include Altair Engineering, IAV, NEWTECH 3, and Comau. It will provide more details about its plan for distribution and retail later this year.

With a few questions hanging over the Elio – including whether it will be able to finance its operations – it seems a bit early to start making reservations. The opportunity is available, however, starting at $100.

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

Pretty sure that three wheels is legally a motorcycle, not a car, enclosed or not. But it does look nice inside and you could stretch it for a passenger seat in the back.



Toooooo risky!!


For a hundred, bucks, I'll take the chance at owning one

Ken Charbonneau

I like it! The rear end treatment is horrible, though. I'd really like to see pictures of what it looks like without that rear wheel cowling. Believe it or not it would be a deal breaker for me if you couldn't remove it.


Looks sensible. Possibly the hardest thing to do with something that is new ;)

Craig Jennings

Definitely interesting. But we've seen promising vehicles disappear into vapor many times before.

I wonder if that clunky housing around the rear wheel is removable, the body design is 'adequate' except for that.


Oh, P.S., WHAT were they thinking of with the green and orange body choices? They're horrible.


Pending the scrutiny of the DMV and CARB, I believe this would be perfectly legal and not require a motorcycle license or helmet in California. Maybe they should start here.

Mister D.

looks good lots of pretty colours, fuel economy isn't special, I hope it is real cheap, safe and made to be recycled.

Graham HomeMaintenance

Can you say Tucker? A car ahead of its time thats needed now but won't see production. Good Luck Gentlemen


Good shopping trolley, but even a motorcycle has panniers for that, and you can legally carry a pillion passenger as well! Still I would weigh that against the enclosed comfort and safety aspects before laying out 7K for a used bike - unless they make 7K new ones worth riding!

The Skud

The photos show its a two-seater, the black looks alright. No rear indicators? Front wheel drive, if the torque steering is under control this thing is crying out for a turbo


Washington State already has a 3 wheel exception on the books -

You don’t need a sidecar/trike endorsement on your driver license to operate a 3-wheel vehicle if it meets all of the following requirements: The seat is in a partially or completely enclosed seating area. The vehicle is equipped with safety belts. The vehicle is steered with a steering wheel. from: - http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/gettrike.html


This hits my sweet spot perfectly for a little urban runabout. Id like to see them do something about the naught to sixty time though. I expect a bike to make a thrill or two. Maybe a little turbo? Id sacrifice a few mpgs....

Bob Ehresman

It looks like a good practical commuter, although there are some onramps I would avoid in it. If I'm going to only have 3 wheels I don't want to have get front end alinements. (Please don't tell me that the deltas are inherently unsafe The Reliant Robbin is a bad design the previous notoriously unstable 3 wheeler was a tadpole built by Morgan.) It's not perfect but they shouldn't make any changes not necessary to get it into production.


"Of course, it also mentions that the vehicle is considered a motorcycle by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Its executives and lobbyists have some work to do in making the case that it is indeed a car and can be driven as such."

I think their whole purpose in making it a 3-wheeler was to get US DOT and NHTSA to consider it a motorcycle. There are a lot fewer safety equipment requirements for motorcycles than for cars, the only major exception being the mandatory helmet law in some states. Sorry, but I doubt they'll actually be able to deliver all their promises of AC, airbags, power this and power that for $6800.


It has positives and negatives. The passenger is more like a piece of luggage in the back. holding a conversation is best done with a person at your side, the way I would prefer the seating. It does get 84 MPG they say. I might rent one first before considering owning one.


I like the orange.

Mark A

I sure don't like side-by-side seating over tandem. Tandem seating provides much better and safer visibility to each side for the driver. If you must yak to the passenger while driving that's what intercoms are made for. They work great on motorcycles. Of course, one could just concentrate on their driving and avoid distractions. Plus the reduced frontal area of tandem seating also helps reduce air drag. Wheels are bigger than they need be, and use more energy, but that's the price one pays to look nicer. I really hope they get it into production. Leave the sbs seating for all the other drivers that think it's better. There are a few million of us that don't think it's necessary or safer.


Does it really matter whether the thing is called a car or a motorcycle? If it is safe enough for a motorcyclist, then it is safe enough, period. In any event, a three-wheeler is going to be safer than a two wheeler any day, especially with the reverse trike layout this design possesses. (Just don't expect to come out of a spin facing the right way! Though having said that, at least you can spin the thing, which is a bit tricky on a two-wheeler.)

With gas prices set to climb ever higher regardless of whatever desperate efforts the fossil fuel industry people make to save their pay an bonuses this sort of vehicle will become all the more popular, especially as a second car.

Mel Tisdale

I have driven all configurations of trike i.e. fwd, rwd, one wheel forrard, one wheel aft and sidecar. In my experience two wheels forrard and fwd is by far the safest, fastest and most comfortable ride, you don't have to worry about spin. You can break out the back end under total control if you want to and with properly designed suspension they corner as if the are on railway track even at speed. Just the thought of it makes me feel young again. I wish the manufacturers every success all power to them and their product. In my experience Morgan trikes are very stable even if your backside is a bit close to the ground, much better than those two rwd, rear engine all chrome and crap abortions one sees so often.


Sorry, but Messerschmitt were building these in the 1950s that achieved the same level of fuel economy. (look up KR200)

Surely with modern tech they could push it well beyond the 100mpg mark? Engine doesn't need to be so powerful, I mean this is a city run-around, very unlikely to see 60mph+ roads (and I wouldn't want to be mixing with trucks at that speed anyway)

It also suffers from being too fat to fit through gaps in the crowd - one of the main benefits of a motorbike in city commuting. So, needs to be 2 wheel self-balancing to get thin enough - but then that'll push the cost base up.


What state requires helmets on motorcycles? That hasn't been the law in ages.

Clay Jones

A completely un-practical 3-wheeler. Look at the front clearance, it is too low and that is part of the body, not a rubber skirt that is going to crash into every speed bump, high-edged driveway or poorly installed manhole covers. Unless your commute to work is a race course, the leading edge of this machine will get trashed the first week, if not the first time you take around the block. The powerplant sounds very reasonable though, I have to give them that much. But bottom-line, this isn't the car. The trouble is that we've seen too many scams on pre-order concepts where everyone gets ripped off in the end, because they can't or never intended to deliver. If you want people to feel comfortable with a crowd-funded car (which is what this is if people are pre-ordering them), you will need to go through trusted crowd-funding sources, where the funds are held in escrow. As a side note: why can't anybody develop a diesel-electric hybrid, electric drive with super-caps (no batteries)? Existing technology, could be done for reasonable cost, and it would get >100mpg, hwy or city. Something that doesn't look like an egg, please!


I like this car/bike. Not much room for groceries though, and why would you want electric windows when they are inches away from the steering wheel ? Just more weight, and expense. Not sure how it would go in snow. I hope they make a go of it. Just lose the electric windows.

Fritz Tomacari

Could benefit from being able to tow a motorcycle trailer for groceries. I really hope you decide on some better colors ! Also, you could tweak the front end to make it tougher looking. Over all, I really like it. You build it and make it a good price, and I'll probably buy one. Maybe two ?


Fritz Tomacari

The newest version of the Elio is being shown in the next few weeks, so some of the styling questions (including ground clearance) may get resolved. Kansas City this weekend, then Minneapolis, then Chicago on Memorial Day. Being classified as part motorcycle (laws vary) will often mean it qualifies for the HOV lanes. I wouldn't have any problem with this on the highway, any more than I would with a Smart or a Toyota IQ. I hope they do well, and am saving my pennies.

Bruce H. Anderson

They actually have a pretty good video showing people driving and using this thing. I like this idea and there's nothing hairbrained about the vehicle layout and it's performance and mileage specs - if the manufacturer were a serious motorcycle or automotive company. But even a company like Honda or Yamaha would have enormous difficulty coming in at that price even if the whole thing were made in China. I just cannot imagine an upstart company can put this together in the US for the stated price.

If they were more realistic and stated it would come in at $15,000 I would give it some credence. $6800 - I will believe that when I see it.


re; JPAR

After you get past the superficial resemblance you will find this one is carrying a lot more amenities, you know air conditioning and such.


It needs a rear window. Maybe it would help to qualify it as a car if it had one? it would certainly help with visibility. Also, they could save weight/boost efficiency by eliminating the power windows.

Dan Parker

Overall not a bad design. I agree the rear cowling looks clunky. I can see a lot of aftermarket modifications becomming common for it to customize it to taste.

For a vehicle this light they are getting lousy 0-60 performance from a 70hp motor. I own a 500lb motorcycle with a 30hp motor that can beat 9.6 sec 0-60 despite the high drag profile from the cruiser rider position. The site doesn't mention curb weight though. For all I know it oculd weigh in at 2K which would make 9.6 more impressive.


Where's the back window? No reason not to have one with front engine, front drive.

A production version of the Tri-Magnum would be better than this. At least that design has an excuse for not having a back window, though designing a frame from scratch instead of just taking the front fork off a motorcycle and bolting the rest in would make having a back window possible.

Gregg Eshelman

Kinda sorta reminds me of a BMW/ Isetta (late '50s to early '60s). Good, stable idea, but... They won't be able to sustain that price, especially with all those included goodies. Still, if they can keep it under 10K it might have a chance.

Neil Larkins

Vaporware at $6800 even at double that it would be ridiculously cheap. I wouldn't trust my life on the freeway to something so ridiculously underspec'd.

Anne Yonimus

Actually this would be the same as the Aptera when it comes to licensing. The Aptera is considered a motor cycle as far as the Ca. DMV is concerned and as a car as far as the U.S. government is concerned.

Jerry Peavy

With a vehicle this narrow there is very little area that is not covered by the side mirrors making a rear window an unnecessary weight and expense.


I would like to see this start up project continue to grow and actually market their concept vehicle. We have seen so many start up projects, with deep pockets and big guns, mostly name droppers to hype their vehicles. Old cliché, new meaning, but we have to get out of the box. Just one man's opinion, styling should be updated, and don't be so secretive about the power supply. Incorporate molded in headlights on the fenders,, see as you turn, I know all this adds to cost, but also note once in production run, drives costs down. Okay so we have to wait another year to see what happens, in the meantime............

Go go

Slowburn, I always look for your comments because you are usually right on the money. I find myself in the uncomfortable position of dissagreeing with you a bit here, tho. Tadpoles have 2 wheels in front. A tadpole, a juvenile frog, has a big head in front and a skinny tail. The Robin was a delta, it had one wheel in front. As to which is more stable, it depends on the width of the rear wheel track and where the center of gravity is. The conundrem is that if you move the CG rearward to reduce the likelyhood of a roll-over, you've set yourself up for having understeer.


I can see a "Battle Star Galactica" type wig wag brake light option in the back. ;-)


Why all the negatives? Every bodies so cynical. Sweet imaginative little ride, and you have to have some colors same ole boring black or white or silver. And for feeling unsafe people die in SUV's all the time. And as far as a motorcylce licnse is concerned so what, its called studying and a trip to the dmv. Crossing the street can be dangerous. Don't buy it I will.

Packy Lex

There are only 2 states with no motorcycle helmet law. IA and IL. Most states have some restriction on age, amount of time licensed etc. and about 20 (including CA and NY) require helmets for all riders.

This is one of those, I can't believe nobody else is doing it yet kind of configurations. I'm not sure if they can meet their price point or not but I have to give them credit for trying.


re; kuryus

Perhaps I was unclear I first acknowledged that the Robin was terribly unstable fully in the knowledge that it was a delta. (I have come to believe it was an eugenics experiment because designs that bad do not usually make it to production.) I then went on to say that the pre Robin 3 wheeler known as being notoriously unstable was a tadpole built by Morgan it was a pre WWII model. Incidentally I would be really excited by a gyro-stabilized 2 wheeler powered by a 20hp ICE and an energy recovery system that used the flywheels in the gyroscope as the energy storage system. (for that I would even forgive an electric hybrid.


I will stick to my Kawasaki ZX-11 or my Honda Fit. Since I use my 29er mountain bike for most local commuting I purchase very little gas compared to most people.


The thing is growing on me fast. What they should add is either a flywheel kinetic regeneration or a hydraulic kinetic regeneration (to boost acceleration and get better city mpg). And they need to protect the radiator better than that; maybe 2 chrome teeth ;) Tires should be about 2/3 the width. Needs to be a few inches longer...the back seat is just too small. And that back passenger probably needs a handle on the ceiling somewhere to get out. The front is a bit low. That low hang could easily hit a dip especially as the wheels seem to be set back. And the concrete stops in parking lots will do a number on it. The fenders are also too low in the back. They will catch on curbs. All fixable stuff...well lengthening it might be a costly change but the rest should not add too much to the cost. A lot of problems could be solved by getting taller narrower tires on the front and better fenders. Maybe hydraulic kinetic regeneration should be fitted into the front wheels as the rest of the space is probably already taken unless they lengthen it.


very ugly. if the design was good half the people here would be impressed, it looks like a playmobil toy.

Ooh Bertie

Okay a few things....why are people asking for a back window? There isn't room, your passenger would block it anyway, and this is a narrow vehicle. Might as well add a back window on a real motorcycle for all the good it would do. Use the mirrors or have them install a simple backwards looking camera and display.

SBS seating would increase drag quite a bit. Want SBS, buy a car. I don't need to see a face to talk to someone. You're driving, not attending a social gathering.

I like the idea of deleting the power windows. That would save some cash and a bit of weight. Offer the power windows as a dealer installed option. I've never liked power windows. If you're too lazy to crank one, stop driving.

An optional diesel engine should give the vehicle at least 30% better mileage than it current;y gets with no loss of power, it may even be quicker with the lower power band and increased torque.


@ slowburn,

My bad. I didn't read your comment cloesely enough. Sorry.


The economy niche has been overlooked for over 40 years. This vehicle would have been useful and popular in 1970, but not now. It's too little, too late. They tried to re-invent the Aptera and failed. Look for the clues. No drag or curb weight is revealed.


Funny how history repeats itself. The 1 + 1 concept first was seen in a German-made mini-car in 1911 called the Wanderer Püppchen (Wanderer "Little Dolly"). The three-wheeler concept was popularized in motor vehicles throughout the 1950s - BMW Isetta, Messerschmitt Kabinenroller, Reliant Robin and Bond Bug, just to name a few. None of them needed motorcycle exemptions in the U.S. or anywhere else. The downside of three-wheelers, known in German pejoratively as Schlaglochfinder (or "pothole-finders") is that with the deteriorating roads of the U.S., driving one of these anywhere but on new roads and new highways will be a rib-shaking, possibly injurious nightmare. And at the quoted price, this turkey is sure to be another Yugo.

TheLast Weeren

for those of you who haven't seen it in person, I think many of you will be surprised by the room, the visibility, the fun factor and the overall purpose. I saw it live in Mpls and I can tell you it generate alot of interest. It is not for your trip across the country with the kids. It's an inexpensive high mileage personal vehicle, able to carry alot of groceries INCLUDING a passenger- yes at the same time. the trunk is huge when the seats are folded down.

I ride a motorcycle too, and we preordered one of these. Why not? I have wasted alot more money on crap over the years and for plain old commuter it is safer than my MC, gets half again as much MPG and keeps me dry. Would I have this INSTEAD of my MC? No. But as an addition to run around in it's awesome.

Mark Daniels

not fond of the 'metro' motor- would rather see an electric hybrid (maybe onboard gas turbine /generator charger? (Tesla at 20,000 rpm ?)). Excellent place to start. Next model should be a "twin bathtub" two seater with a mcclaren -ish front end. lol. 7k for a new A2B grocery getter- kewl.

Two very narrow wheels almost touching each other could replace the single rear wheel. The vehicle would remain the same but the technicality of the fourth wheel would be met. Or the two rear wheel could be in line with each other like a bicycle and meet the four wheel requirement as well. Condo associations will have nervous breakdowns over the prospect of the dreaded motorcycle parking on the grounds. There are a bunch of six cylinder motorcycles made by Honda with a trike kit that adds two additional wheels to the bike while maintaining the original rear wheel in the center. I have though about buying one just to see the faces on the people in my condo with their must have four wheel rule. Jim Sadler

According to legal definition three wheels is a motorcycle most places. Many states have some exceptions for enclosed three wheelers. So most states will not require a helmet so long as it has a roll cage.

I would have to caution the teams trying to get this redefined as a "car" whatever that is. The reason most of these startups are beginning with three wheels is because a motorcycle does not have to go through the same emissions and collision testing prior to being allowed on public roads. If they succeed in arguing this thing is a car they may bite off more than they can finance. you need to run 100 or so of them through brick walls without injuring the dummies inside before it will safety certify and no power plant that is this small will meet the car emission standards.

So be careful what you wish for, and good luck!


By law, many states classify 3-wheeled vehicles as motorcycles. This drives up the cost of insurance, requires a special operator's license, and in some cases, forces the driver to wear a helmet. These laws are beloved of insurance companies, and so are not likely to change. The 3-wheeled vehicle has no future in the US, energy costs be damned.


As mentioned the design is not new in concept. There are unseen and unmentioned factors that make this product only suitable for a limited and niche market. As long as the producers keep this in mind they won't loose to much money. Not a cash cow product.

For myself I'll stay with heaver four wheel forms of travel, thank you very much.


I like everything about it! I would like for the rear wheel to be wider... like the one on the Veeco RT from Portugal. But, this looks like is going to be a winner and make the other car companies take notice and do something in the innovation and energy savings end. The big car corporations will not budge from the traditional gas gusslers until they see their demise on the horizon. I will buy this Elio Motors vehicle!


I'd get a motorcycle permit for it, though I'd probably not wear my helmet except right after getting pulled over.. but I'd probably also be bitching about having to be there through the entire motorcycle class... "Why are you here if you don't want to be here?! I'm here because our laws are stupid. You pass me, I'll write you an oath swearing that I'll never touch an actual motorcycle in my life."

Ethan Anderson

This would be great for getting around the city. Might be good for pizza delivery too.

Paul Griffith

Yeah, I would definitely look at getting one of those, but that backend is definitely a deal breaker. I think somebody called it a rear wheel cowling. Honestly I would like the front wheels to be enclosed also with a real sexy design.

Matthew Denson

And the spare tire is??? Where?

North East Micro Assoc.

@North East Micro Assoc.

the same place it is on a motorcycle...

on a rack in a store


Most states have an enclosed trike exemption already.

Will Nelson

California requires a helmet for anyone on a motorcycle. Unfortunate side effect of the law is that now there are far fewer young male organ donors in the state. They were the perfect donor as they were brain dead and too young to have screwed up their livers, lungs, kidneys, and other parts. Hopefully other states are taking up the slack.

It would be terrific if these cars were classified as motorcycles in California as then it would be legal to drive in the high occupancy lanes anywhere in the state. These lanes now require cars with at least 2 drivers or a fully electric vehicle or a motorcycle.


Deposit is non-refundable... difficult to support this business... or is it just a website asking for money with no intent on delivering a vehicle?

Mark A

It looks like ground clearance is only about 2 inches at the front with or without a passenger. That low says a really uncomfortable ride, since you've got no room to give. I get why the math works better when you design it that low. But without a metal bumper, even a parking lot curb at 1 mph is going to do some serious damage to the nose.

Michael Hart

I'm in for a green one. Power windows on a motorcycle? A heater? A roof? A windshield wiper??

I like it, it's not as swoopy as the XR-3 (http://www.gizmag.com/go/7011/). The headlights are ugly but they did another version with smaller, projector bulbs.

Popular Mechanics had a story about eleven 3-wheel kit cars. If you don't like this one, it seems there are plenty of alternatives for the DIY crowd.




Daniel Gomez

saw this on the local tv station in philly. it was actually being driven in the city with one of the station personnel. great for a sr who only has occasional driving needs or for the family who's breadwinner needs a car to get to the septa station for his daily commute to the city. hope it makes it. i am almost 70 and it would suit my needs.

Linda Fritsch

Not a car? Just get a pair of bicycle training wheel for 10 bucks at walmart and stick em in the rear wheel hub. Congratulations you got a car.


I am not a car expert but I have seen something a bit like this vehicle ; Renault Twizy.It is on the market and prices are round € 7000.It is a two seater with four wheels and an electric motor.It is not a car at least not in Germany .

Timo Tiilikainen

Nice looking little vehicle and I'd buy one. I'd love to take it on a solo vacation with a tent and bag in the back. I wonder if a small roof rack would be an option... I'm looking at a new ride summer of '14. For the maybe $10 K delivered price, this is a lot cheaper than most decent new bikes. As a daily commuter, with the 30 miles each way on good highway, anything over 25 mpg is better than what I have now. Also, I'm 61 years old - the top speed is good and I am SO past doing wheelies. My only concern would be the spare tire. The vehicle's spare tire, not mine...


Wait until these companies have real working pre production models,many of these companies are far from delivering a product and using your money,gaining interest you could be earning.Some won't return your money and or will charge you a fee,what?Just be careful,look at home many products never made it out of cyber space.

Thomas Lewis

I LOVE the green, I LOVE the orange, and for that price, I want one of each.

A Bunches

YES I would love one but I too have concerns that could be eliminated if ELIO would create an order webpage that guaranteed price and delivery or a refund of my $100 deposit. They also need to announce how they plan to distribute, and service the vehicles. Partnering with a motorcycle dealership would make sense. They also need an independent conformation of their claims on mpg and safety.


Cons: I'm not thrilled on the body style and with hybrids making their way, 84 mpg in a vehicles this small is not ground breaking.

Pros. Easy to park, cheaper than a TREX and better equipped.

I can see this on city streets with cars like smart for two and golf carts.

For highway use it would have to be more powerful and have a five star safety crash rating..


I would probably also risk 100 dollars even though I don't care for the front end styling I think they had to sell the innovative features and have a crush zone to get this thing started to build....and after selling enough of them next year they could come up with something a little more attractive like for instance the now-defunct Plymouth Prowler front end except for that ugly plastic bumper... It was a bit nicer looking.


So this is the projected price? I don't see how a pre production vehicle could be any less than very expensive...? And about driving in colder climates like where I live it would be something for three seasons only?


Ha! Been working on a design just like this, only using a small diesel unit for propulsion and with a standard 5 speed manual gearbox.

Here in the UK, our laws place this vehicle as a Three wheeled vehicle, that can be driven by someone who possesses a motorcycle licence or indeed anyone with a car licence. Due to the dubious invention of the Reliant Robin and its family back in the early days of motoring, all three wheeled vehicles that have a steering wheel [...as opposed to three/four-wheeled ATVs, which have handlebars, where helmets are compulsory], are regarded as cars by law and thus do not require the driver to wear a helmet. The exception being our law on trike's with a motorcycle front end. We can drive these on m/c and car licences and without a helmet [...though it would be prudent to wear one].

During the swinging sixties, there were the imports from Germany of the Heinkle and Messerschmitt three-wheeled vehicles. Loosely resembling their wartime aviation namesakes, they proved very popular, due to economy and the fact that they were designed with front two-wheel axle configuration. A design that owes its roots to Motor-Guzzi and Lomax companies, which made forward engined/twin front wheeled sports cars, which are very sort after and extremely safe. Safe, because this configuration of wheelbase is the most stable of all wheelbases and that even includes four-wheeled vehicles... A fact realised during the arduous hill-climb events that still take place all over Britain [though they tend to use low-profile side-car units with high-powered Japanese motorcycle engines nowadays...]. In contrast, the front single wheel configuration; the Reliant range and your classic trike, is the most unstable of wheelbase designs. I have turned a Robin on its side, with extreme ease. Very unstable.

If Elio have problems in marketing this vehicle in the US, down to its ridiculous state legislature, then Europe would, I feel embrace it immediately. [If they need an importer, let me know!!!].

I cannot understand why, other than the logistics carrying capability, why there are not more vehicles of this configuration available. Oil is FINITE [...ok Americans?], so we should be thinking of every way to economise. These vehicles [my own design is far more futuristic and high tech...] are far more efficient and can travel just as fast as most common cars. I am even looking into a 3-wheel drive design concept for an all terrain styled vehicle.

But well done Elio, keep pursuing those senators...

Herr Kaleunt

if that's rear wheel drive your going nowhere in the snow.


Herr Kaleunt, Intrigued by your posted comment, you expressed an interest in the Elio concept car...I'm sure there are others that would think it to be of great interest to get as much information as we can about your design. Keep up the good work.


I bought a no-frills Spyder the 2nd year they came out. I think it is cool. It was double the cost and gets less than half the mileage of this 3-wheeled toaster. I don't see how aerodynamics can make that much difference in mpg, but it sure makes it ugly. I'll keep my Spyder.

I'm intrigued by the idea. If they can pull off the price and mpg's, I'll be surprised, but I wish them well. But it is still very ugly. You can't sell much ugly.


Things I'd like to see: 1) Push the headlights into the body at the front corners so they are flush for aerodynamics. 2) Replace the exterior rear view mirrors with cameras and 2 interior 7-8" monitors for improved aerodynamics. 3) Size the tire widths for mpg. The front tread is overly wide and robbing from potential mpg. One would think the friction coefficient for the front and back tires would be uniform for slide control. Look at the 4 wheel Honda Insight (version 1) as an example. It had specially made low roll resistance tires made by Pirelli. 4) Cover the front coils for aerodynamics. In fact the whole exposed front suspension needs major aerodynamic work. 5) Make a 2-3' long narrow section of the roof retractable for a sunroof. Manual operation would be fine. Power as an upgrade. 6) The side roll down windows have some aerodynamic issues where it meets the rear glass panel. 7) Talk to either Honda to get manufacturing rights for the 3 cylinder Insight (version 1) hybrid engine or talk to Ford Motor Company about licensing their new 1.0L 3 cylinder eco-boost engine. Those engines probably would have better performance and economy numbers. 8) Provide automatically adjustable front radiator louver openings to only allow the necessary louver opening size for radiator cooling. maximize aerodynamics. 9) Have all flexible body panels that can be replaced by the users at home. This way you can change colors or mix and match panels in a one day operation. Tired of one color? Then buy the extra panels and you end up with 2 or more different looking cars. 10) If this company never gets off the ground, I'd like to see either Honda or Ford (preferably) buy the rights add this vehicle to their lineup.


I would love to design a vehicle like this, the economy and cities would benefit from smaller(for parking and traffic reasons) and budget friendly vehicles like this.


Try Europe, I'd buy one for work and let the Partner keep the Car. That mpg would keep me going for two weeks :)


I like the fact that they're not trying to promise the impossible like the Aptera, but if it ever sees mass production I think the $7,000 cost will be too low. I think it'll rise to over $10,000 and end up too expensive to sell. There's one thing, and one thing only that'll make Americans mass-produce more economical cars. Unfortunately it'd be political suicide for the incumbent party - gasoline prices similar to Europe. An $8 US gallon would make you all rush to buy less thirsty cars and reduce the USA's demand for crude oil.

Andy From Norwich

Weight is 1200lbs. They project 5 star safety rating with 3 airbags and a roll cage, and it goes 100 mph. I saw these questions in other posts, so I thought I'd answer (Google elios for their website to read more specifics that weren't mentioned in this article).

Dane Calderon

Ever picked up an old window roller assembly? a clever power window system may end up cheaper and lighter.


Sooner or later, three-wheel cars will need to be accepted as cars rather than motorcycles - otherwise the insurance and licensing requirements will be a problem. I'm glad to see they're working on it. It this car doesn't succeed, the next one will.

Style-wise, this car needs wheel pants. I don't know why it doesn't have them now.


In comparing this vehicle with Tesla's Model S, I found that at highways speeds, this Elio will emit 3.7 ounces CO2 per mile, while the Model S generates 11 ounces per mile at the power plant (U.S. average). The Tesla is thus responsible for three times more emissions than the Elio on the highway and over 50% more around town. Would someone care to tell me exactly why our Federal govt gives Tesla buyers a $7500 tax break and exempts the car from road taxes, despite the fact that it will cause three times the wear and tear on our highways as the Elio, which,naturally, will pay highway taxes, and receives no tax break? Or why California shovels $25,000 to Tesla Motors for every Model S they build, paid for by those who buy cars other than the Tesla? I think it's delightful that the Feds and California tax the minimum wage earners and send their money to the millionaires who chum around with Elon Musk to help them buy their $100,000 Tesla cars. After all, we wouldn't want those near-indigents to have to go domestic on their wine list, now would we?

Kent Beuchert

I think this will be a flop, in my state and many states A Motorcycle which means the rider would have to hold a Motorcycle License and also wear a Motorcycle helmet inside the seat of the vehicle. Looks ugly too. Oh well..


Kent Beuchert (2 comments up), you forgot to account for the C02 emissions in gathering crude oil from the earth, converting that crude into usable gasoline, and the emissions in delivering that fuel to gas stations. I believe it takes about 20% of a gallon of gas worth's of energy in order to make a gallon of gas from crude, or about 6.5KWh. Add in the cost of gathering the crude and transporting it, and the Elio's net energy usage is higher than the Tesla especially where renewables are used.

In the future more renewables will be used so electric cars will continue to become more net efficient while existing gas cars emission controls decay.

Small errors in article; the pictures are out of date compared to the latest concept. Also it is a 55HP engine not 70HP, which still should be fine since it doesn't weigh much. Hoping for an electric or extended range EV version eventually but first they have to succeed with their 1st generation.

Daniel Watkins

You have to wear a helmet? That will kill this car. Nobody is going to want to wear a helmet inside this thing. Perfect example of laws not keeping up with tech.

Nice knowing you Elio. It was fun.

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