Elio Starts Build on Prototype With Production Drivetrain

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
elio starts build on prototype with production drivetrain

In today’s crowdsourced and Instagrammed era, companies are always looking to create some buzz, so Elio Motors can be excused for publicizing the fact it’s starting to build its fifth prototype of its proposed super-economical enclosed tandem reverse trike. Actually, it’s a fairly significant step as what they are calling P5 will be the first Elio vehicle powered by Elio’s own IAV designed 0.9L three-cylinder engine, driving the front wheels via the Aisin supplied manual transmission to be fitted to production cars. In line with building buzz by parceling out information, Paul Elio told TTAC the P5 will also have revised front end styling that will be revealed later this week.

Though our friends at Jalopnik say that the P5 Elio has been already built, that’s not the case.

Fabrication has indeed started at the same suburban Detroit shop that built P1 through P4. When asked when their latest prototype would be finished, Paul Elio said he didn’t want to give a specific time frame because they’re pushing to meet a somewhat unrealistic, accelerated schedule and they don’t want the attendant bad publicity from missing a published deadline. Prototypes almost always take longer to build than planned, but Paul’s hoping that by pushing to do it in half the time, they’ll be able to at least finish ahead of a normal schedule. Elio did say the P5 would be introduced within the next few months.

Assuming the P5 meets their benchmarks and Elio raises enough money, it will be followed by 25 additional pre-production prototypes that will be used for testing, including endurance runs and crash testing, once Elio and NHTSA come up with protocols appropriate for a reverse trike.

Interestingly, Elio Motors’ press release on their new prototype specifically mentions it is being funded by new investors brought in with the 506 (c) offering they announced just two months ago. That program allows private investors with at $2 million or more in assets or an established income greater than $200K/yr to invest at least $15,000 in Elio Motors.

Elio Motors appears to be gaining credibility. When the project was first announced, comment threads on posts about Elio were filled with scoffers and skeptics. Now, people are complaining that smaller investors won’t be able to get in on the ground floor, with some even mentioning Tesla’s stock and Elio’s potential in the same breath.

Paul Elio said he’d be happy to give TTAC access to the prototype build as they reach significant stages in the fabrication. Check back for details.

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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2 of 23 comments
  • Jeffkan1 Jeffkan1 on Jun 11, 2015

    I've been following the Elio for more than a year, and the information I have about the transmission in the P5, is that it very well could be the "automatic" version of the transmission. There's some misnomers for the Aisin transmission, the word "manual" appears in the automatic version, if that makes sense. I believe this is the official transmission, I'm 80% sure anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimode_manual_transmission The way I understand it, there's no clutch for the driver.

  • Jgwag1985 Jgwag1985 on Jun 12, 2015

    Many people forget or do not know that that Paul originally planned to sell for $5400 and sell 500K a year. So with this latest $6800 trike, he plans on selling 250k a year. He also said he would only need $200m to get this into production. Now he needs $240m! What did they teach him at Kettering? He's missed every deadline HE set with Elio Motors, he now says he will not put a date on when this P5 prototype will be done, I guess he did learn not to put out deadlines(now). He also claims he wants transparency, okay what happened to all the investors you said you had(2013) and did not need more? Also he has to hire workers at the plant this year, or renegotiate the deal with Racers Trust, IRG-Stuart Lichter. Who knows what will happen if he misses that deadline. Remember IRG almost had another tenant for the plant, but negotiations fell through................Elio has a long, long, long way to go before production.

  • Johnster Minor quibble. The down-sized full-sized 1980-only Continental (which was available with Town Car and Town Coupe trims) gave up its name in 1981 and became the Town Car. The name "Town Coupe" was never used after the 1980 model year. The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was available with a 2-door body style, but the 2-door Lincoln Town Car was discontinued and not offered for the 1982 model year and never returned to the Lincoln lineup.
  • Zipper69 Some discreet dwebadging and this will pass for a $95k Lucid Air...
  • Zipper69 Does it REALLY have to be a four door?Surely a truly compact vehicle could stick with the half-door access with jump seats for short term passengers.
  • ToolGuy See kids, you can keep your old car in good condition.
  • ToolGuy MUAWGA