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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Elio: Buy American and Travel In Style at 84 MPH



Do you need a new, economical way of getting around? How about buying an American automobile made in Louisiana that curbs erosion of the environment while insuring the United States will become far less dependent upon foreign oil? Buy one and you will also be investing in American employment, as the company estimates creating 1,500 jobs at their Shreveport plant alone (and, eventually upping that figure to 3,000 people there). Does it sound like a dream? You decide.

Welcome the distinctive, beautiful, three-wheeled Elio. Elio Motors was founded in 2008 by Mr. Paul Elio. The mission and desire of the project was to provide affordable transportation to those commuters seeking an alternative to the days offerings; at the same time to provide vital American jobs. Guess where Paul got his inspiration? In the words of Elio...

"In 2008, oil prices were going through the roof. It was just really making me angry that so much money was pouring out of this country to people who don't even like us so much. I guess I was complaining about it too much to my wife, so she finally told me I should do something about it. I went to work the next day and decided to kick the project off. Working with 46 engineers, we had the actual concept finished by 2009."

Standard features at no extra cost include a relatively roomy interior (The vehicle is designed to fit a 6’1” 220 pound person. It has accommodated people as tall as 6’8” and as large as 365 pounds.), air conditioning, three air bags, power windows, power lock, AM/FM stereo, heater, defrost, windshield wiper, seat belts, and tempered glass. And, the Elio comes standard with a 3 year/36000 mile warranty.

Although it will be fully enclosed like a standard automobile, the Elio's three-wheel design falls under US government classifications as a motorcycle. The vehicle can be registered as a motorcycle because it has less than four wheels, but Elio says most states will not require a motorcycle license to operate the vehicle, although but the company still recommends checking with your state.

Consumers may consider purchasing an Elio for these outstanding design considerations:
  • 84 MPG Highway
  • Engineered for an anticipated 5-Star Crash Test Safety Rating
  • $6800 Cost Tag
  • Customized vehicle


The Elio has an inline, 3 cylinder, .9 liter, 55 HP, fuel-injected, SOHC gas-powered, liquid-cooled, automotive engine. Customers can order a 5-speed manual or an automatic. And yes, it has a reverse gear. The engine is in the front, and it is a front-wheel-drive vehicle. So, with a low center of gravity and weight towards the front, Elio promises great traction – even in the snow.

So, you may assume it is a slug on the road. Think again. Top speed is in excess of 100 MPH, and the 0-60 speed is under 9.6 seconds. So it’s not exotic sports car fast, but it’s not slow, either.

Brakes? The vehicle has 3-wheel disc brakes with the Anti-Lock Braking System on 15″ wheels.

Suspension?  The Elio has an 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 ground clearance is 5.75″ — similar to most of the passenger vehicles on the road today.

How about that unbelievable gas mileage? The Elio is a very green vehicle. It gets 84 MPG on the highway, and it has a city rate of 49 MPH. It can go 672 miles, or thereabouts, because it has an 8-gallon tank and 8X84=672. Of course, other factors will affect your mileage but you get the point. That means it consumes only 1/3 of what the average American vehicle consumes. 

Part of the secret to the great mileage: the vehicle also weighs less than any car. “We’re half the weight, so it costs less money,” said Elio. Most small cars are in the neighborhood of 2,500 pounds. The Elio comes in at 1,200 pounds.

Elio said the vehicle meets every necessary four-wheel vehicle safety requirement. Each Elio comes equipped with a Safety Management System that includes three airbags – a reinforced roll-cage frame, Anti-Lock Braking System, and 50% larger crush zones than similar vehicles.


With dimensions not too far from the 2013 Honda Civic sedan, here is the tale of the tape for the Elio outside:

Overall Length: 160.5″
Overall Height: 54.2″
Front Wheel Track: 66.8″
(center rim to center rim)
Wheelbase: 110″
(center of front wheels to center of rear wheel)



Is it a crackerbox? There is room for two people and some trunk space. Interior measurements are as follows:

Headroom: Driver 39.8 Passenger 36.4 in
Seat width: Driver 20.6 Passenger 25.3 in
Interior Shoulder Width: 26.8 in
Front seat Legroom: 42.7 in
Rear seat Legroom: 33.1 in
Elio has been designed to fit 95% of all men.

The trunk space will be at least 27″ x 14″ x 10″, enough for an airline carry-on bag or a golf bag with the fold-down rear seat down (47″+).

The company also promises a quiet ride. The body panels are made of a composite (which is more sound deadening than steel) and attached to a tight, solid body that doesn’t have a lot of moving (read squeaky) parts. These two design features help keep outside noise from getting into the cockpit and getting in the way of your favorite tunes playing on the AM/FM radio.

The trunk space will be at least 27″ x 14″ x 10″, enough for an airline carry-on bag or a golf bag with the rear seat down (47″+).



Are You Ready to Order An Elio?

Here is the company info:

"First off, no bargaining baloney. We will offer No Haggle Pricing. Because nothing is more discomforting than driving off wondering if you got the best deal or not. Everyone will get the same great deal. We want you to be wearing a big smile from the get-go. This will help.

"We will also have a team of trained, certified and salaried Elio specialists. People you can trust to know your Elio inside and out.

"Getting back to your uniqueness, it only stands to reason you should be able to customize your Elio. We will offer the means to do that. Can you feel your smile getting bigger?

"We're looking at a network of Retail Centers in the top 60 markets across the country. Larger markets will have more than one location. These Retail Centers will be stand-alone sales locations run by Elio-trained employees.

"You come to the Retail Center and we take it from there. First, we’ll guide you through the selection of your new Elio – manual or automatic, your color choice, and finally any further customization you have in mind. Our specialists will assist you throughout the process and can even offer suggestions. These specialists have been selected based on their ability to help others, not on ringing the cash register.

"To help you even further, we’ve developed a website containing a tremendous amount of specs, photos, videos, interviews and even links to other websites talking about Elio. Again, our Elio Specialists will be right there to answer any questions.

"And wait until you see the showroom floor! It’s going to be super-cool! Along with computers, we’ll also have kiosks to help you create your personalized Elio by filling out a customer profile. Of course, you can create one from the comfort of your home or work computer (when the boss isn’t watching) by using a private user name and password, but we think you’ll have more fun by stopping in."

Click here for Elio Motors Website: http://www.eliomotors.com/

Here is how you get your hands on the wheel of your custom car:

"Delivery: Once you make your choice of transmission, color, etc, we go to work fast and hard. We will have your new Elio cleaned and ready with options installed and back to the Retail Center within 24 hours of the order! 

"Our distribution centers are designed to move Elios...lots of Elios, quickly, efficiently, and damage free. That is part of our commitment to you. Further, we are working on that fantastic “Factory Pick-up” program we mentioned earlier. Details are to follow, but this delivery involves a tour of the plant in Shreveport, Louisiana and more." 

Of course, you must consider service. The word from Elio...

"If there really is beauty in simplicity, then Elio is a knockout. Your proverbial 10! That’s because Elio was specifically engineered for reliability and simple service. As if that wasn’t enough, Elio is partnering with a nationwide authorized service center. This service center will have more authorized locations than any other major brand – and stocked with all the parts and accessories needed to keep your Elio running smoothly."



Bottom Line on the Cost

At $6,800, the price seems like the bargain of all bargains. But, wait, Elio even offers inventive payment options:

"This is the Coupe de Gras. Along with the traditional methods of paying for vehicles, we wanted to add something else unique; a credit card payment plan. It will allow you to drive off with your new Elio with no money down. You simply sign an agreement to use the Elio credit card for all of your gas purchases. We, in turn, charge your credit card three times the amount of the fuel (most likely less than what you were paying for fuel on your existing vehicle). The simplicity is the difference. Two-thirds of the bill is your car payment the remaining third of the bill is the original fuel cost.

"Let’s give an example: You put $50 worth of fuel in your new Elio. Your credit card will be billed for three times the amount, or $150 due in full. The breakdown is simple; two-thirds ($100) is the Elio payment, one-third ($50) is the fuel. Details on minimums and the like are being worked out with several banking institutions, but the reality is simple. Drive off with a new Elio for no money down and pay for it with the massive fuel savings you have over your existing vehicle!" 

(David Aaron Moore. "Interview: Paul Elio and His Ultralight Three-Wheel Cars."
 Popular Mechanics. 2014)

As of March 23, 2014, Elio Motors has 12,899 current reservations. A couple of celebrity clients include Ed Begley Jr., and Adrianne Curry. The high level of interest is evidence that consumers are clamoring for an entirely new type of transportation option, according to Paul Elio, Founder and CEO of Elio Motors. Paul Elio has raised $50 million already.

Founder and CEO Paul Elio believes that at its price point, his brand could see annual sales of 250,000. He admitted that that is a "nutty number," but said that the vehicle should catch the attention of new-car shoppers with its low base price and quirky design.
The state of Louisiana and the federal government praised Elio Motors for the purchase of the old GM plant in Shreveport. The vehicle is slated for production in 2015. It seems the Elio is perfect for individual commuters looking for an inexpensive and fuel efficient mode of transportation, but who also yearn for a unique expression of their passion for driving.

On the negative side of the dream, here is what cleantechnica.com reported:

"250,000 is a big number, in other words, and – if Elio hits that number – that would make the Elio trike the number 4 best-selling vehicle in the US using 2011 number. The Elio would out-sell the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ram pickup, etc., etc. And it would have to do it all with (get this) 120 dealers. (pause for hilarious laughter).

Based on that “120 dealers” number (provided by Elio), each dealership would have to sell 2084 units per year. Divided by 12, that’s 174 units per month (before the mental midgets start questioning my math, you can’t sell “0.xxx” of a car). 174 units per month is a decent number, representing a fairly solid car dealership … but here’s where this gets really stupid: each of these dealerships has just 5 (five) employees making all those sales. Even assuming that 100% of your staff is in sales and you have no finance people, no administration, no service writers, no techs, no porters, no title clerks, no receptionists, etc., each employee would have to sell 35 units per month.
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/19/paul-elio-motors-releases-financials/#kKX1PWS0a17p7cUY.99
"Based on that “120 dealers” number (provided by Elio), each dealership would have to sell 2084 units per year. Divided by 12, that’s 174 units per month (before the mental midgets start questioning my math, you can’t sell “0.xxx” of a car). 174 units per month is a decent number, representing a fairly solid car dealership … but here’s where this gets really stupid: each of these dealerships has just 5 (five) employees making all those sales. 

"Even assuming that 100% of your staff is in sales and you have no finance people, no administration, no service writers, no techs, no porters, no title clerks, no receptionists, etc., each employee would have to sell 35 units per month."

I refuse to believe the pessimism. I love the vehicle and the dream. Keep those great ideas coming, Mr. Elio. Make this blog entry viral so that I can afford to reserve my customized three-wheeled auto. You make my car-loving imagination run wild. Good luck in everything you do.





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