Tag: startups

By on August 10, 2017

elio-otc-chart

The past year hasn’t been particularly kind to Elio Motors, the startup trying to launch an economical enclosed-tandem, front-wheel drive three-wheeler. The company seems to be no closer to starting production and in fact has shuttered most of their operations, including assembly of their production-validation prototypes, and laid off most of their staff, to concentrate on raising the money they need to start building trikes.

For a while Elio was flying high. They had over 60,000 reservations and a Reg A+ stock offering raised $16 million. That stock quadrupled in price and briefly gave the company a billion-dollar valuation. Then, starting late in 2016, a pattern started forming. Some kind of bad news for Elio would appear on folks’ screens, either another production delay, a SEC filing with ominous-sounding boilerplate, or local politicians in Louisiana, where Elio promised to start building vehicles in what was formerly a GM assembly plant in Shreveport, would start complaining about a lack of progress. The bad news would get amplified by Elio’s critics, and their over-the-counter stock price would take a hit. A year ago the OTC shares were pretty stable at around $20/share. Down from the high of $60, but still significantly above the initial offering price of $14/share. By the end of 2016, however, it had dropped to about $15/share and since then it’s had a series of drops to about $8, then $7 and most recently about $5/share. Elio seemed headed for penny-stock status, or worse.

(Read More…)

By on July 12, 2017

ff_91_exterior_8

Faraday Future, the American electric vehicle startup backed by LeEco founder Jia Yueting, has abandoned plans to construct its now infamous $1 billion factory in Nevada due to severe financial woes. It’s another nail in Faraday’s coffin as the firm was claiming it would resume construction of the plant less than six months ago.

Work at the North Las Vegas site stalled in 2016 after repeated nonpayment to the construction firm and numerous suppliers.

It’s become a bit of a running gag, as Jia has begun pleading with literally anyone who will listen to give his automotive endeavors more time to pay up. Last week on Weibo, China’s biggest social-media site, Jia publicly promised to repay his debts as he committed himself his electric car businesses. He then resigned as chairman.

“Please give LeEco some time, please give LeEco car some time,” Jia wrote, admitting he had made financial errors in the past. “We will pay back creditors, suppliers and any other debts.”  (Read More…)

By on May 31, 2017

Automobility LA, Image: Automobility LA

The Los Angeles Auto Show is once again hosting the Top Ten Automotive Startups competition and has opened the door for entrants. If you’ve ever wanted to troll a major automotive trade show with your worst ideas or promote your extremely flimsy business model, this is your opportunity.

Of course, the application process also works if you have a legitimate business you’re looking to showcase. Thanks to the LA Auto Show’s decision to rebrand itself as “AutoMobility LA,” the bar for entry is fairly low. Your automotive startup could involve a drone that finds your keys or a mobile app where people rank the visual appeal of various tire tread patterns. It really only needs to be vaguely auto related. Think we’re kidding? Previously selected winners include Elio Motors, Urb-e scooters, and HopSkipDrive — a ride hailing application aimed specifically at children.  (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2017

paul-elio

As TTAC reported recently, Elio Motors disclosed in its most recent annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission it needs an additional $64 million to begin series production of its first vehicle at a former General Motors assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana. This is on top of the $312 million it previously stated it required to bring the high-mileage trike to reality.

That isn’t the worst news.

In the filing, Elio Motors announced it was laying off sales and engineering personnel to conserve resources as it focused on securing more financing, primarily through the sale of stock and taking on more debt. An unnamed vendor is also in a payment dispute with Elio Motors, and the company is running a $100+ million deficit.

“Sure, there’s bad news,” Elio said on a phone call with TTAC, “but there’s also good news in the annual report that people are ignoring.”

(Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

elio orange snow

Remember Elio Motors? If you’ve ever expressed any public interest in its economical three-wheeler, the company’s aggressive social media campaign has ensured Elio is a household name in your life. You may also recall the company pushing back the vehicle’s release date every single year since 2014. With a revised launch of 2018, surely Elio Motors is on track to deliver the affordable and eco-friendly little trike this time — right?

Don’t bet on it.

After an assessment showing the company had $123 million in debt with only $101,000 in the bank as of September 2016, the future is now even more dire. Elio Motors’ U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows the company needs $376 million — $64 million more than the original previous $312 million estimate — to begin production, reports Jalopnik.

Worse still, it only has 76 weeks to find the money if it has any hope of maintaining its self-imposed deadline.  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

Faraday Future FF 91

Faraday Future, which spent 2016 as the automotive poster child for bad news, continues to face a myriad of problems. In this most recent hardship, we learn Faraday couldn’t even manage to choose a company name without stirring a legal backlash.

Faraday Bicycles, which manufactures electric-assisted pedal bikes, has filed a trademark lawsuit against Faraday Future in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In the complaint, filed Tuesday, the e-bike company states Faraday Future has been infringing on its name — which it officially trademarked in October 2013. The legal action follows a November claim against FF over the acquisition of its domain name and nearly endless financial woes.  (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

cruise automation

General Motors’ self-driving startup, Cruise Automation, has trickled out dash cam videos of an autonomous Chevrolet Bolt milling around San Francisco since February. The video quality was poor and it wasn’t anything we hadn’t already seen from a self-driving car. Tesla went so far as to call tech startups like Cruise Automation and Otto “small teams of programmers with little more than demoware” and scolded Ford, GM, and Uber for investing billions of dollars into “unproven” projects.

However, Cruise’s most recent video seems to show that it has made some legitimate progress in the last three months. Set at night, the clip shows the self-driving Bolt navigating a dense urban environment while avoiding collisions with cyclists, pedestrians, and even a raccoon.

We have to take General Motors’ word for there being zero human intervention, since we never get a clear view of the steering wheel, but the company has assured us that is the case. We also noticed the Bolt never makes a single right turn on red, even when it seemed safe to do so, and reached out to GM to ask why. (Read More…)

By on January 27, 2017

tesla model-s-rear

The former director of Tesla’s Autopilot program has choice words for his former employer.

Sterling Anderson is being sued by Tesla for stealing confidential information, which he allegedly put to use at a new autonomous vehicle start-up. According to Bloomberg, the electric automaker isn’t happy about his attempts to hire away Tesla employees, either.

In his response to the suit, Anderson doesn’t have very nice things to say about Tesla. (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2016

LUCID prototype

Lucid Motors, which hopes to someday be an EV manufacturing heavyweight rivaling Tesla, took an important step on Tuesday by announcing plans for an assembly plant in Casa Grande, Arizona. The automotive startup claims it could create up to 2,000 jobs over five years. Governor Doug Ducey seems particularly pleased to divulge Lucid’s commitment to training and hiring Arizona veterans.

For its part, Arizona will offer $46 million in subsidies dependent upon the company reaching milestones as it approaches vehicle production. (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

google prototype-early

Every now and then, a critical mass of clever, ambitious folks excited about a particularly good idea coalesces, often in a particular geographic region, and humanity gets lucky. The American colonies in the late 18th century and Detroit in the early 20th century are historical examples. Silicon Valley, starting in the 1980s, is probably our best contemporary example.

In recent years, those modern titans of technology have turned their futurist eyes towards personal transportation. Whether explicitly or in sotto voce tones, they’ve indicated that the traditional auto industry personified as “Detroit” was a dinosaur about to go extinct. Not knowing the auto industry metaphor of becoming an obsolete buggy whip manufacturer, the tech industry saw Detroit’s future as “making handsets” — i.e. low tech assemblers.

Tesla was going to show us the new electron driven future, Google was going to make cars that drove themselves, and the Apple of the tech world’s eye was going to do nothing less than completely reinvent the automobile, just as it had done with music players and telephones. The push towards self-driving, autonomous cars and trucks was only going to accelerate the ascendancy of Silicon Valley as the new Motor City.

Just because you’re good at one thing, however, doesn’t mean you’re good at another. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2016

Sondors Electric Trike, Image: Sondors

Last year, Storm Sondors, a Malibu-based entrepreneur, used an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to launch a very basic $499 electric bicycle. He’s since sold 15,000 of his Asian-made electric bikes.

Buoyed by that success, Mr. Sondors has announced the creation of the Sondors Electric Car Company, which he says will sell an electric-powered, aluminum-bodied, three-passenger, enclosed reverse trike with a variety of battery pack options that offer 50 to 200 miles of range.

The Sondors electric trike is supposed to have a starting price of $10,000 and will be called the Model Sondors, more likely a nod to Tesla than to Henry Ford.

The folks over at Gas2.org think the Model Sondors is everything the proposed Elio is not. I agree with that statement, though not in the same way as Gas2go’s Steve Hanley. (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2016

For the past few years, startup Elio Motors has said that the “target price” of their enclosed tandem three wheeler was $6,800. As the company and their vendors finalize the design of the production vehicle and seek financing for that production, Elio has announced a “locked in” base price of $7,300, though that price for now only applies to the first 65,000 reservation holders (and it appear that those who already have placed reservations may pay as little as $7,000).

Since more than 56,000 people have already put down reservations for the Elio trike, if you want to buy an Elio and lock in that $7,300 price, there are fewer than 9,000 slots remaining. There was no word on what the price will be after the first 65,000 are reserved.

The pricing announcement is tied to the company’s still active application for a $185 million loan from U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2016

Elio E1A Prototype, Image: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

While it’s still a $200 million dollar question if Elio Motors will raise enough money to start production of its low-cost, high-mile-per-gallon tandem enclosed reverse trike, the automotive startup took a major step towards building vehicles for sale with completing the first (of 23) E series prototype. Elio will use it for testing and refinement of the final production design.

Though it looks very much like the P5, the E series trikes have fully engineered unibody construction made of stamped steel panels, unlike the previous five Elio prototypes that were scratch built with tubed space frames. The E series prototypes aren’t what the industry calls validation builds (there will be a 100 of those assembled at Elio’s Shreveport factory by the end of this year, Elio claims), but they’re very close to production designs. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2016

Arcimoto SRK New York Auto Show, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

It looks like the makers of three-wheelers are trying hard to get the attention of car and light-truck consumers.

Last month, at the Chicago Auto Show, Polaris had a couple of trikes on display. Immediately adjacent to the Slingshot display, Campagna was showing its T-Rex and newly introduced Harley-Davidson-powered VR13R. The Polaris starts at just under $20,000 and the T-Rex is about three times that price.

Interestingly, the New York International Auto Show, often chosen by high-priced car manufacturers for reveals, also featured two reverse trikes, but at the lower end of the price spectrum: the electric Arcimoto SRK (target price of $11,000) and the gasoline powered Elio (targeted at $6,800). (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2016

Elio Motors 2016 NAIAS, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

In a move that has already generated criticism from disappointed deposit holders, Elio Motors announced that production of its enclosed tandem three-wheelers will be delayed, yet again, to an undisclosed date sometime in 2017.

In a statement issued on Friday, Elio Motors said, “the bulk of the consumer launch will have to be moved into 2017 at a date to be determined, as the company continues to seek additional funding.”

Ironically, that delay was made public as the company appeared to make progress towards getting at least some vehicles built in Shreveport later this year. Founded in 2009, Elio had previously announced production dates of 2014 and more recently the end of 2016. (Read More…)

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