By on April 14, 2015


Most of the big news at the 2015 New York International Auto Show took place on the first day of the media preview, with the introduction of the Cadillac CT6, production bound Lincoln Continental and Honda Civic concepts and an all-new Chevy Malibu, as well as the Porsche 911 fighting McLaren 570S. With that in mind it’s easy to understand why the press conferences for Elio Motors and Lyons Motors were relatively sparsely attended, being held on the second press day, though the two startups faced different obstacles in getting attention. Elio’s stand at the show was with the trucks on the lower level of the Javits Center, away from most of the cars, and reporters, upstairs. Lyons Motors’ head Kevin Lyons held his press conference in the concourse on the main level, but it was easy to miss as they had no car on display, just an empty piece of carpet and a lectern.

Lyons Motor Car LLC founder Kevin Lyons at his New York Auto Show press conference. Photo credit: João-Pierre S. Ruth,

Lyons Motor Car LLC founder Kevin Lyons at his New York Auto Show press conference. Photo credit: João-Pierre S. Ruth,

Both startups have gotten at least their share of skepticism but the two press conferences demonstrated, at least to me, the difference between a serious, albeit longshot, effort to bring something new to the automotive market, and something that’s more like complete vaporware.

Paul Elio at the New York Auto Show

Paul Elio at the New York Auto Show

There are some similarities. You have to love the romance of someone starting a car company and naming it after themselves. Henry Ford and Enzo Ferrari did it, so why not Paul Elio and Kevin Lyons? There are also some major differences. Elio is trying to reinvent the people’s car, inexpensive to buy and own, mostly for commuting. The Lyons Lyons LM2 Streamliner is aimed at a much more rarefied market, something more suitable to the red carpet. Jay-Z and Shaquille O’Neil were mentioned as being interested in the million dollar plus 1,700 horsepower, 290 mph carbon fiber hypercar that will not have a conventional wiring harness but some kind of single networking cable that will work wirelessly (why then have even one cable?).

Kevin Lyons explained not having their prototype at the media preview as being due to the car not meeting the company founders’ standards. The fiberglass and foam pushmobile they finally displayed during the public days does indeed look a little bit rough, and apparently the mockup was draped for much of the time but Road & Track’s Robert Sorokanich got photos. The quality of the show car and Kevin Lyons’ stilted interview with Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban don’t fill me with confidence about the quality of the parts they will produce in the carbon fiber autoclave that Lyons said is being installed so they can make the chassis and bodywork in-house.



Lyons’ rambling off-the-cuff presentation during the press preview hit his bullet points, but never offered any real technical details which also didn’t make me feel like it was a serious effort. Lyons does have some experience as a fabricator and drag racer, so putting aside the BS about how the car will be wired (“no fuses, no circuit breakers” – yeah, that sounds safe), it’s possible that they might produce some kind of coachbuilt car based around an existing carbon fiber tub for something like a Daytona or LeMans prototype racer. However, I strongly doubt that it’s going to be competitive technologically or dynamically with the new McLaren 570S, to be sold at a bit more than 1/10th the price, let alone compete with 7 figure hypercars like the McLaren P1 or Porsche 918. It’s also not going to be ready nine months from now as Lyons says it will, at least not if they’re still at the pushmobile styling buck stage. If they couldn’t get the styling prototype ready in time for the NY show, I don’t think they’ll any more likely meet that nine month deadline.


I don’t want to diminish Lyons’ skills as a fabricator but making carbon fiber parts isn’t as simple as having an autoclave installed. There are a limited number of companies capable of producing large structural CFRP parts and there’s a learning curve involved. Much of BMW’s i8 and i3 EV program involves a billion dollar investment in an international supply chain for those cars’ carbon fiber parts. Ford is using Ontario supplier and race car builder Multimatic to fabricate the new Ford GT’s carbon tub and bodywork, not fabricating it in-house.


At his press conference, Lyons billed the LM2 Streamliner as “America’s Bugatti”. Of course if anyone at the Volkswagen Group thought that Lyons will actually build even one LM2, their lawyers would contact them about Lyons’ use of their Bugatti trademark.

Paul Elio is a little more practiced and polished at giving a press conference than Kevin Lyons but Elio Motor’s appearance at the NYIAS was actually the first time they’ve had a press conference or even a display at a major auto show. Their stand at the NY show was part of the road tour to major events that they’ve been doing to get their prototypes and the project in front of the public. For the most part they’ve been hitting things like the Woodward Dream Cruise or Daytona Bike Week and this is the first time, to my knowledge, that they’ve had a display up at a big corporate auto show media shindig. They were also on hand for the public days of the show. Unlike Lyons Motors, for their part Elio had an actual operational vehicle on display, the P4 prototype that I was able to test drive last summer. They also had some real news, not all of it great, though their transparency about what wasn’t good news encourages me about the project.


First the bad, well, so-so, news. Not long ago Elio released video of their purpose built IAV designed three cylinder engine being tested on the dyno. I asked Paul Elio if it met their power and torque benchmarks and he gave me a straightforward, “No.” Elio, who perpetually smiles, continued that everything was within 5% of their targets, within normal developmental range as he described it. Translated to numbers, 5% means that they were less than 2.8 horsepower shy of their 55 hp projection.

Also regarding transparency, guring his press conference, Paul Elio mentioned how their primary investor, real estate developer Stu Lichter owned the former GM assembly plant in Shreveport, LA, which they are leasing to build their $6,800 reverse trike. That sounded at odds with the published fact that the Caddo Parish government bought the plant and leased it to Lichter’s company. Lichter was at the press conference in New York so I asked him about the real estate deal and he was forthcoming with the fact that what Elio said wasn’t technically true. Lichter’s deal with the county is a lease to purchase contract that ends with a $1 balloon payment, what he described as a distinction without a difference.

Concerning other investors Elio is now describing his company as the second most successful crowdfunding effort ever, after the Apple Watch. So far the company has over 40,000 paid reservations and when I asked Mr. Elio how many canceled after their recent announcement that production won’t start until next year, he said “in the low hundreds”.

The company is also now soliciting equity investments from whom the Securities and Exchange Commission considers to be “accredited” investors. When I told Paul Elio that soliciting equity investors from the public, and describing product deposits as investments, all before starting production, might bring up uncomfortable associations with Preston Tucker’s problems with the SEC, he said that the actual investments will be regulated under the 2012 JOBS act and that the solicitation of individual investors is in response to one of the more common questions they get at public showings of the trike being about investment opportunities.

The company is still waiting on their application for $200 million in financing from Department of Energy’s revived Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program, which provided Tesla with $465 million in loans, and even more to Ford and Nissan. Tesla paid off its ATVM loan and Ford and Nissan have been current with their payments. Less successful was the more than half billion dollar loan to Fisker Automotive.

Regarding the Shreveport plant’s equipment, the surplus of which is being sold off by Comau as part of the startup’s financing, Paul Elio told me that so far they’ve sold “millions of dollars” worth of equipment, most of it for more than their anticipated prices. The loans for that equipment are still being paid off on schedule. The plant was one of GM’s most modern, having been only recently renovated, and Elio told me that the giant automaker has had people in the plant going over what they would like to buy back. Elio will only be using about 1/3rd of the plant floor space and related equipment, hence the surplus.

On the regulatory front, Elio Motors has had some success at the state level getting legislation enacted now in 26 states that carves out regulatory space for “autocycles”, enclosed three wheel vehicles. The company appears to be trying to avoid three-wheelers’ legal status as motorcycles requiring Elio drivers to wear helmets while at the same time making sure that any potential competitors would have to meet standards of construction and safety more or less established by Elio. Lousiana’s U.S. senator, David Visser, has introduced the Autocycle Safety Act at the federal level that would enable NHTSA to promulgate appropriate regulations.

From Elio’s press release on Senate Bill 685:

The legislation provides that autocycle manufacturers must immediately meet certain safety standards until such time as the NHTSA can promulgate final safety regulations covering autocycles.  To be eligible for the new classification of autocycle, the vehicle must qualify as meeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS)—not limited to, but including most standards for passenger vehicles under 10,000 lbs.  Some of the requirements will be FMVSS for seat belts and seat belt anchors, child restraints, roof crush and meet upper interior impact standards. Autocycles also must have front and side curtain airbag protection.  In addition to numerous safety standards needed for qualification, autocycles must meet FMVSS for motorcycles as well.  The legislation also requires the continued investigation of additional standards appropriate for autocycles, developing additional safety standards for these vehicles.

About those crash standards. In the past TTAC readers have raised concerns about the crash safety of the Elio trike’s outrigger, motorcycle fendered front wheels, particularly how they would affect the vehicle’s safety in the new partial offset front collision test. I asked Paul Elio about that and he said that there were indeed some issues in crash testing the reverse trike because of the design, though they have more to do with the side offset test, which uses an angled ram hitting the side of the car. Apparently they can’t get the sled to hit the narrow passenger compartment without first getting deflected by the wheel. Elio said that they are working with regulators to come up with an appropriate way to implement that test.

Regarding the partial offset front crash test that involves the ram hitting the front of the car but to the side, not on center, Elio says that the fuselage is so narrow that the partial offset test might completely miss the trike’s front crush structure. In that case, energy would be absorbed as the ram hits the tire, and then the wheel and suspension would likely rip off the vehicle. While it doesn’t sound pretty, it also doesn’t sound particularly unsafe. In a conventional envelope body design it seems to me that more energy would be transmitted to the passenger cell as the bodywork around the wheel and suspension crushes.

A few new details on the Elio vehicle itself were released. The automatic transmission that will be offered will be a dual clutch unit based on the manual transmission used in the Elio trike. The instrument panel has been redesigned, and it reflects Elio Motors goal of using as many off the shelf components as they can. The new IP uses almost all existing supplier tooling, but by replacing the speedo and tach needles with discs and covering most of those gauges with brushed aluminum covers, they’ve come up with something that’s attractive, modern looking and not just the same old gauges.


When I drove the prototype, while vision to the rear is fine with the two side mirrors, there’s no back window and even if there was one, the tandem seating means a conventional windshield mounted rear view mirror won’t really work. As I said in my review, you can see behind well enough with the mirrors, but psychologically most people would like some kind of view directly out the back. I asked Paul Elio if they were considering offering a rear facing camera and display as standard equipment and he said, “Well, with the cameras costing about $10 today, yeah, that’s a possibility”.

Alternatively, rear cameras would be installed with other accessories and options post production, in one of the company’s seven proposed fulfillment centers. The way it is supposed to work, customers will order cars from a factory store. Other than transmissions and exterior colors, they’ll be made identically at the factory and the fulfillment centers will have cars in stock. Options and accessories will be swapped out at the fulfillment center, with the replaced parts shipped back to the factory, and the cars will be trucked to the local factory store by the next morning for delivery.

At the Elio announcement, when they opened it up for Q&A I asked Paul Elio when they’d have one of their own engines in a prototype car and he said that would happen only after they built about 30 engines for validation, with some used for destructive testing. At the Lyons announcement, between the lack of a car and Kevin Lyons’ literally unbelievable hype I couldn’t come up with a question that wouldn’t have gone past mere skepticism into mockery. Like I said, I like the romance of someone starting up their own car company so I kept my mouth shut, lest I rain on Mr. Lyons time in the spotlight. I don’t know how professional it is for a writer to ask, “Isn’t that complete and utter bullshit?” I will, however, make what I think is not a very bold prediction: Elio Motors will bring their trike to production before we see the first running LM2 Streamliner prototype from Lyons Motors.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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42 Comments on “A Tale of Two Automotive Startups in the City: Elio Motors and Lyons Motor Car...”

  • avatar

    I wish them both well, but even if Mr. Lyons gets it off the ground, it is less relevant to me than Morgan. Mr. Elio is encountering what happens with start-ups; his plan continues to encounter reality. It sounds like he is at least no longer being pummeled into the ground by reality and has started returning a couple body blows, as the three cylinder, although lacking in power, has at least been built, and, so far, the factory has not been yanked out from under him.

  • avatar

    Why can’t we get an interesting startup, supercars are a dime a dozen and I have a hard time even telling a difference between those made in the 90s and those made today. Elio’s trike just reminds me of all the cool technological pieces that wowed everyone for a year and then were forgotten.

    CUVs, SUVs, and Trucks are all very big sellers today, why not go for this market? It just seems stupid to waste so much capital building a product as a startup that has such a thin profit margin, unlike major automakers that have multiple other vehicles to fall on, startups can thrive or die on the flip of a coin. Elio’s trike at least has a vision, Lyon sounds a bit crazy thinking he can spend hundreds of millions of dollars and sell only a very few vehicles.

    I’m all for startups, but Lyon especially doesn’t sound like he knows what he’s doing. Didn’t VW lose money on the Veyron?

    • 0 avatar

      I think Elio’s edge will be when gas prices head back up. After all, the Saudis are only going to want to pummel our oil biz until there are enough bankruptcies, and perhaps until Putin has learned his lesson.

      So, I expect Elio will build their pre-orders, most of which will claim their cars, and by then, I would expect gas prices to have headed back up. Which is very good for them. I might be looking at a longish commute in the foreseeable future, something drier than a motorcycle, but very fuel efficient, would be really nice.

    • 0 avatar

      Going head to head with the established carmakers in the mainstream marketplace would be suicidal. It takes an enormous amount of development to build a competitive product, the only chance a new carmaker has is to go for a niche product.

  • avatar

    “At his press conference, Lyons billed the LM2 Streamliner as “America’s Bugatti”.”

    Another car company that starts with a B comes to mind. Malcolm, god amongst men, show them the way.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t forget about Jerry Wiegert and the Vector W8. It was America’s answer to Ferrari and Lamborghini and America’s first supercar!

      (mostly it was a terrible scam)

      • 0 avatar

        Didn’t that Vector make it into the original Gran Turismo? I never got to drive it because it was too expensive, and I refuse to use cheat codes.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes. I think Gran Turismo 2.

          I remember my friend who loved Gran Turismo used to talk about how awesome Vectors were. Like they were a real thing and not some POS made in a shed with leftover GM parts.

          • 0 avatar



    • 0 avatar

      I looked through the R&T photos, and the word “believe” was spelled wrong on the poster. Cannot take seriously.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s not the only editing issue with their promotional materials. To be fair, though, I’ve seen some gibberish put out by Asian companies that use computers, not people, to translate their hype, and press releases from German companies are obviously translated, often stiltedly, from the original German.

        I’ve seen spelling and typographical errors from companies much larger than Lyons Motor.

        My day job is machine embroidery (which involves a fair amount of lettering) and even though I have procedures in place to prevent it, sometimes spelling and lettering mistakes are made. My guess is that Kevin Lyons is writing most of the copy himself and as I writer I can assure you that it’s always better to have someone else do the final read-through and edit. When you edit your own material you read what you wanted to write, not what you actually wrote. I don’t catch some mistakes until after posts are published.

        • 0 avatar

          Or at least (what I do when nobody is around) is leave the document or whatever it is alone for a while, do something else, and come back later.

          I’m instantly more objective then.

          My GS430 manual from 01 had some silly English in it. My A8 manual was flawless.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, the worst proofreader you can use is… yourself.

      • 0 avatar

        “Skidpad” was also misspelled.

        Ferdinand Piëch Lyons is not.

      • 0 avatar

        Instead of bothering with all that copy, they should have ‘shopped out the flying saucer in that X-files poster and replaced it with a pic of their monstrosity concept car.


  • avatar

    The Lyons thing looks like somebody half-melted a Malaise-era brougham coupe and then copied the fonts from its advertising. Why, why, why?

  • avatar

    TTAC forgot to mention the main issue regarding Elio. Is it possible to successfully launch a mass-market vehicle without the backup of a major OEM / global brand? Particularly considering the enormous investments involved with developing and putting a new car onto the market, of course the after sales, and the competition. That competition may not be another new car, but a small, frugal, pre-used car that’s cheaper and that carries all the guarantees consumers have come to expect from that particular brand.

    Yep, Tesla did it (launch a new car). But not only does the charismatic Elon Musk have an impressive rolodex of co-investors… he himself expects to turn profitable not earlier than 2020.

    • 0 avatar
      John Painter

      Good question about mass marketing. Though I think the comparison to an automobile company like Tesla is not as good an analogy as, say Motus or other new American motorcycle companies since Elio Motors is technically a motorcycle deftly navigating between automobile and motorcycle state and now possibly federal definitions.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The Lyons project has fraud written all over it. Who shows up to an autoshow, as an exhibitor, without a car? As noted above a comparison to Morgan, really? Morgan has been around for almost a century now. Love or hate there product, they do deliver what they claim to be able to deliver. Complete with a factory and all, more like a collection of out buildings but you get the point. Morgan is really the true definition of coach builder. They use off the shelf drivetrains form other manufacturers along with electrical, wiring harness etc. The only Morgan made parts are the body and what not. I don’t think this Lyons or Elio deal fall unit the catagory of coach builder at this point.

    What I don’t get is he Elio motor issue. Why go through the brain damage of creating your own, is there not one that is on the ‘shelf’ somewhere and that group may be wiling to sell them enmasse?

    • 0 avatar

      Be certain that Paul Elio has tried. Car makers aren’t too keen about sharing engines, let alone help a new contender.

    • 0 avatar
      John Painter

      I’m a reservation holder for an Elio, and Elio Motors has been very clear they decided to build a new engine for several key reasons; 1) the Geo Metro engine in the P4 Mule (at the show) that was originally intended as the production engine, did not meet the economy specifications Elio needed (early on they worked with McLaren (yes that McLaren), to improve the vehicles body aerodynamics and fine tune what would be needed for the power plant, 2) Elio realized that they would not be able to purchase the quantity of engines from someone else they believe they will need 3)when they did the math, for the volume of engines they need, it is cheaper for them to manufacture their own engine.

    • 0 avatar

      The original plan by Elio was to use the Suzuki triple that they have in the prototypes (I assume they’d buy a license and some tooling), but they say that after looking into it, they couldn’t get what is by now a 20 year old engine design to meet their benchmarks. As far as I can determine, IAV did base the Elio engine on the Suzuki design, so they may share things like bore centers and some architecture.

      There are costs to building your own engine, but when you’re buying them from someone else, you’re still going to pay for those costs plus your supplier’s profit margin. I’m guessing that it’s only cheaper to buy if your vendor’s economies of scale are significant.

  • avatar

    The proudly prominent anus on that Lyons reminds me of the rear view of a short-haired kitty.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the same. The car’s aesthetics are dire. It looks like the kind of poorly finessed CAD model someone does when the programme’s limitations are in charge. A good CAD modeller could run something better up in a few days but to be worth doing a CAD model needs much more time. This is a rough sketch and lacks any degree of finesse.

  • avatar

    Thanks, Mr Lyons, I know longer have to wonder at the result of an unholy union between a Studebaker Avanti and Speed Racer’s Mach Five.

    (How it would actually run and drive, however, will likely remain a mystery.)

    • 0 avatar

      Oh oh, or like that Packard revival they tried a few years ago. Though they actually -made- a functioning car.

      Oh no!

      “The Packard Name Trademark is available. Contact information for Roy Gullickson or Neil Lewis is on our “Contact us” page..”

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve seen and photographed that Packard prototype when it was sold at auction last year, it’s on the to-write list. While it was a serious effort with some cool engineering (it has a Falconer racing V12), the attempt to use some Packard styling themes resulted in a car that at best is aesthetically awkward and funny looking.

        When Dick Teague did the last true Packards, the 1955-56 models, updating a body shell in production since ’51, he paid homage to the classic Packard grille shape by incorporating it into a mid-1950s chrome bumper and grille, but he didn’t try to give the hood a retro shape. The shape of the classic Packard grille/hoodline just doesn’t work, for the most part, with postwar envelope bodies.

        Even retro designs need some talent to get a grille originally designed over a century ago to work with more modern car body shapes. A few years ago, Fran Roxas, the Cadillac and Packard restorer who has done some one of none Cadillac V16s from the Fleetwood catalog, did his first custom car, the Packard Myth, which was a Ridler Award finalist and later sold for mid six figures. It was a what-if modern take on a Packard LeBaron boat-tail coupe. Roxas hired Strother Macminn, longtime GM designer and later head of the transportation program at the Art Center College of Design to do the original sketches.

        Not only does the Packard prototype you mentioned do a bad job with the Packard Grille, for some reason they gave the body shapes cribbed from the postwar ‘bathtub’ Packards, I’m guessing because Packard sold a bunch of ’48s so they’re fairly common today and it’s what some people think a Packard looks like.

        After years of shooting 3D, I tell people that things look differently in real life so they should reserve judgment about cars until they see them in person. The Packard prototype looks even worse in person.

        As for the legal status of the Packard trademarks, I’d check with the Packard Foundation, because they own some of the logos.

        • 0 avatar

          You’re just giving me all kinds of info today, I like it!

          I mostly liked the scale of the new Packard Twelve, a proper sized car with presence. I agree the fenders didn’t really work, especially going through the door cut lines that way. And the interior was filled with parts bin items, which looked like they were from an 80s era Bentley Eight. I also read previously that the prototype was pretty rough, and didn’t ride well at all, lacking anything like a ready to go suspension set up.

          I think they should have hired an old designer, maybe one who knew Teague or some of the other old and dead guys from Packard, to get it a more cohesive style. (I can’t believe all of the memorable things Teague designed, by the way.) Then let the old guy work with someone younger who has an eye for the modern.

          I was under the impression that Ford/Lincoln still had some rights to Packard stuff, but clearly not the important stuff if they were able to build the car and use the name and logos.

          I’d love to see Packard come back, but I feel it’s unlikely – unless a Chinese company were to buy it and create a Lincoln competitor.

        • 0 avatar

          I remember how Cadillac and Rolls Royce both struggled with jellybean styling when it became avant guard in the 1980s. For years, Rolls Royce just mounted their traditional grill onto whatever the latest shape of car was; while Cadillac had the grill and vestige of tail fins; neither styling feature translated well into the world of jelly bean cars.

          As Sajeev’s latest Vellum Venom on the 2014 Rolls Royce Wraith shows; it is hard to translate traditional styling onto a modern platform without coming across as clumsy and chubby. Today’s pedestrian standards and aerodynamic realities do not help either.

          EDIT: I just now looked at the Packard protoype; and it proves my point; clumsy and chubby.

      • 0 avatar

        Eww…that Packard almost looks like one of those Mitsuoka vehicles.

        The only company that can get away with putting an ancient face onto a modern car, at this point, is Rolls-Royce. Everyone else should just quit.

  • avatar

    Is Kevin Lyons another son of Lucious Lyon? He’s certainly filled with as much braggadocio.

    Anyway, the side view of his car looks very much like a lady’s razor, all curves with a big blobby handle for a sure grip in the bath. I wonder what level of fool or huckster is backing this financially?

  • avatar
    John Painter

    I think this is a well written and balanced article on the challenges and opportunities for Elio Motors. As a reservation holder for an Elio #12436 I appreciate reporting that is not primarily about the authors ability to predict the future of whether a company succeeds or fails. Most reservation holders I know are very aware of the real risks that Elio might not make it. It was a bit discouraging to hear that the new engine was off from it’s target by 5% though it’s likely with a 900cc engine they have the hp but have not been able to dial it in just right. I have also heard of a number of people asking for their reservations back and it is good to hear that confirmed by Paul Elio, as it demonstrates the company indeed honors reservation holders with refundable reservations, and if the number is in the low hundreds that represents 1% or less of reservation holders a good sign. I also think a number of us who have been following the design and safety have speculated that the front wheels would indeed deflect an offset front hit an while destroying the vehicle would bode well for occupants in slowing down the impact. I was pleased to hear that Comau is indeed selling excess equipment from the plant, since their ebay listing shows little activity though we know that represents less than 15% of excess equipment. Again a well balanced article providing a fair description of the risks and opportunities with Elio Motors.

    • 0 avatar

      Good to hear. Thanks for the info.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the kind words. The description that the folks at Elio use for my coverage of their company is “fair”, which is all that I’m trying to be. I’m not trying to be a cheerleader and I don’t pull any punches (see me comments about investors and Preston Tucker) but we have established enough of a rapport that as far as I know, TTAC is still the only automotive publication that’s had a chance to drive the Elio prototype for more than just up and down a boulevard for the cameras.

      Frankly, I’d like to see them succeed to test out my theory that it could be a new kind of enthusiast vehicle, a poor man’s Morgan. The Elio triple is being tuned to hit that 84 mpg mark. If you consider the kind of output the new crop of liter triples can put out, a 100 hp Elio isn’t out of the question and based on my drive in the prototype with it’s tired old Geo Metro motor, a 100 hp Elio would be a blast to drive.

      I didn’t mention it in this particular post, but regarding a higher performance Elio trike, Paul Elio told me that Comau is reserving a station on the assembly line for installing a possible turbo

  • avatar

    That’s the original Chevrolet Volt concept. It looked cool, but it turned out to be about as useless as a Hummer when it came to EV duty, owing to its aerodynamics (or lack thereof), which is why the production Volt looked *way* different. I think this will go the same way. If it makes it to production, it will be significantly different due to function constraints. First of all, there’s no way that body is going to generate enough down-force to handle the kind of power Lyons wants without taking off (of the ground) like a jet, especially with that insect-like curve below the door opening. Air intake might also be a problem. A 1,700 horsepower engine needs plenty of opportunity to breathe, and this body affords none. Between those two things and DOT regulations, the finished product would look quite apart from what we see here, and on that basis alone, it’s vaporware.

    • 0 avatar

      Lyons says that the car has “21 vents” mostly on the underside.

      A 1,700 hp engine doesn’t just need air to breathe, it needs to be cooled as do the transmission, rear end and other components that get hot. To deal with the waste heat generated, the Bugatti Veyron has ten different radiators. When they first dyno tested the Veyron engine at VW’s engine development center, the heat from the exhaust started a small fire on the roof of the facility.

  • avatar

    I really want Elio to succeed. I really do. I’m not sold enough to be a backer. Also I’m not there financially. Especially as gas prices fall.

    Still I think it’s a great vehicle. And I totally would buy one if I could.

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