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.

Elio held an event introducing the E1A to a couple hundred engineers, executives of their vendors, some politicians, and a handful of media folks at what it’s calling its Pilot Operations Center in Livonia, Michigan. The company has brought its suppliers into the design process at a very early stage, and those companies are carrying a good deal of the engineering burden for the Elio trike. They all seemed genuinely excited about the project. For you Elio skeptics out there, the vendors I spoke to said Elio continues to pay its bills on time.

Paul Elio had a team from Continental pull the drape off of E1A and symbolically handed them the keys. Continental will use this prototype to develop the Elio’s anti-lock braking system. To be pedantic, E1A hasn’t really been “completed.” The headlights are just plastic mockups, but those aren’t needed for the testing Continental will be doing. Elio will provide later E series prototypes to vendors and possibly use some for destructive testing.

Besides E1A and earlier prototypes, Elio displayed unibodies in various stages of construction that will be the basis for the next three prototype builds. While there are still signs of prototyping, much of the unibody seems production ready. I asked Paul Elio about how much of the tooling is production level and he said that some of the “hard parts” are using tooling that’s close to the final form, while “soft parts” — such as interior trim pieces — are using less durable tooling.

Elio E1A Prototype Interior, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

A representative from Genesee Stamping stated that they aren’t yet using production tooling as the panels are stamped on dies made of kirksite, not steel, though the dies are still durable enough to make a couple thousand parts. While the unibody panels look close to production ready, smaller items (the right-hand-side window frame, for example) show signs of prototype fabrication.

Components that looked production ready included the steering wheel (now with a flat bottom for more room for the driver’s legs) and its adjustable (tilting and telescoping) column, windshield wiper, all the trike’s glass, radiator and electric cooling fan. The E1A has an Elio engine and the same five-speed Aisin manual transmission as will be used in the production car (a “manumatic” version of the same gearbox will be optional). The stubby gear shifter sits to the driver’s right, which reminds me of classic open wheel race cars.

Elio E1A Prototype Cowl, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The instrument panel still uses conventional-sweep dial gauges for the speedometer and tachometer, not the revised version inspired by an Elgin watch belonging to Paul Elio’s father. That’s still undergoing cost analysis by the vendor.

The exhaust manifold looked close to production, but the intake manifold is still welded up from tubing. As in the P5, the exhaust manifold dumps into an enclosed side pipe (presumably the muffler is there) that vents just in front of the rear wheel.

Elio E1A Prototype, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

While the E prototypes will have composite exterior body panels, the production Elios will use steel. Elio plans on building 250,000 trikes a year and it’s easier to build with steel than fiberglass in those quantities.

Elio E1A Prototype Engine, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

I’m sure that Elio’s critics will call the E1A reveal just a show. After all, they didn’t show it running at 70 mph on nearby I-96. As a matter of fact, the prototype was only finished just 20 minutes before the event, according to Jerome Vasselo, Elio’s head of sales, and hadn’t been started prior to its reveal. In reality, all the credibility that Elio needs to demonstrate that it’s moving to production are those other three unibodies.

Elio E1A Prototype Unibody, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

(One of the politicians present was U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, whose congressional district includes Livonia. She apparently had to leave the event early and said she was “so embarrassed” to be interrupting Paul Elio’s press conference. Not so embarrassed enough as to not interrupt the man’s prepared remarks to have her photo taken with him by one of her attendants. Elio, whose company still has an open loan application for a $200 million loan from the Department of Energy’s ATVM program, took it all in good spirits.)

[Images: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars]

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 over at Cars In Depth. – Thanks for reading – RJS

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74 Comments on “Elio Takes a Big Step Towards Production with E Series Prototype...”


  • avatar

    Absolute waste of money and time.

    When I was a kid, in the 80’s, one of my neighbors had an F11 cockpit trike.

    It was really cool, but nowadays very few of these would sell compared to a T-rex or similarly styled Trike with 2 seats.

    I sense a sales failure here.

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      But is it a bigger waste than the viper?

      • 0 avatar

        Considering people still buy DONORcycles…

        This will probably sell way better than the Viper.

        If only I was FCA’s CEO.

        We’d be building cars as powerful as Veyrons where you could fit your whole family.

        • 0 avatar
          SlowMyke

          If you want to talk about boring… Bring up the veyron and any other 1,000+ horsepower nonsense-mobile. I understand the technological achievement there, but aside from that, the cars themselves are prohibitively expensive and I’d imagine fewer than 10% of their owners are even remotely capable of using them to their full ability. For less than 10% of the price of those cars, I’ll take a lowly viper, thanks.

          On topic, this and DONORcycles are aimed at different purposes. Had my specific circumstances not recently changed, I’d be on the waiting list for an elio. But a 7 mile commute doesn’t justify a commuting only vehicle and I don’t have the space or budget for automotive toys. If elio can build and maintain some market visibility, I could see them doing alright. I could see them doing even better if gas prices spike or if the government sees it a deserving vehicle of favorable laws and incentives.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “But a 7 mile commute doesn’t justify a commuting only vehicle and I don’t have the space or budget for automotive toys.”

            For a 7 mile commute, Trek, Specialized, Cannondale or Raleigh could probably put you on a very space-efficient commuter, likely for under $1K.

          • 0 avatar
            SlowMyke

            @kixstart

            Exactly, 7 miles doesn’t really even justify a motorized vehicle. I could bike about 80-90% in actual bike lanes, as well. It’s the winter that justifies a motorized vehicle for me.

            All that said, I’ll still seriously check out the elio, whenever it hits the market. Who knows what’ll change by then?

    • 0 avatar
      Makoto

      You missed the point of the Elio. It was never intended to compete with a T-Rex but then it will sell for a fraction of the T-Rex. It is intended as a cheap form or “Fun transportation. Many people that can afford what ever they want to drive have already put down a deposit, as have many people that can barely afford to put one down. There are currently more than 55,000 reservations like my #7715.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Elio is still a thing?

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      More like it isn’t dead yet. Which is a pretty huge accomplishment (compare to other would-be carmakers), but it has a ways to go to be a “thing”. Looking at it so far, I can’t believe they got this far. Maybe the original guy isn’t calling any shots, and maybe they can sell for a higher price (noway they will hit the original price) without losing their market.

  • avatar

    I admire Paul Elio’s perseverance. THE two big question marks are:
    1. like the topic starter already suggested, will the ATVM loan become available? That loan is about stimulating advanced technologies.
    2. will the Elio be safe enough according to standards that people have come to expect from new vehicles? If so, will it be NCAP tested to support Elio’s safety claims?

    • 0 avatar

      Can’t seem to edit…
      I admire Paul Elio’s perseverance. I have never understood the flak he has been receiving in the media. Still, THE two big question marks are:
      1. like the topic starter already suggested, will the ATVM loan become available? That loan is about stimulating advanced technologies. Using a government loan to secure the development of yet another ICE seems odd, to say the least.
      2. Will the Elio be safe enough according to standards that people have come to expect from new vehicles? If so, will it be NCAP tested to support Elio’s safety claims?

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        voyager: “1. like the topic starter already suggested, will the ATVM loan become available? That loan is about stimulating advanced technologies. Using a government loan to secure the development of yet another ICE seems odd, to say the least.”

        I am thinking roughly the same thing. However, politics is the art of the possible. If a sitting Congressman (or Congresswoman) can get some new jobs in his (or her) district, there’s incentive to do it.

        It could possibly fill a market niche and may be a worthwhile investment in the long run, mostly by bringing mobility further downmarket. This *may* be of use to people that otherwise really can’t afford a car but also lack access to decent public transit.

        • 0 avatar

          True. But it also makes one important thing very clear. Elio does not get any support from a major automotive OEM. I mean, with the ICE having had the longest time, you’d think that at least one car maker would have been interested in supplying Elio a last-generation ICE…

          • 0 avatar
            Makoto

            You need to go to the Elio web site and look at the list (long list) of automotive suppliers. These companies are very involved in the Elio and many have provided design and engineering work for Elio. Sure no car companies like ford and such are involved. However, Auto suppliers generally do not want to deal with smaller businesses like Elio. They seem to see that it is good for them and Elio. Also look at the resume of the board of directors. They all come from heavy automotive backgrounds.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    It looks a lot better in steel.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    This looks promising…..
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice story, Ronnie. Impressive something of this size can meet crash standards.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I thought it’s main trick was classification as a motorcycle with no crash standards.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s classification as a motorcycle means they don’t have to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for automobiles before going to production. The trike is designed with crush zones, a passenger safety cell and airbags and Elio claims it will be as safe as FMVSS automobiles, even though they don’t have to meet those standards. Side intrusion wouldn’t be any more of a problem than with four wheelers, you sit just as close to the outside of a car as you do in the Elio trike.

        Some of the crash tests for cars aren’t appropriate for three wheelers and Elio says that as part of their lobbying efforts to create a regulatory scheme for “autocycles” they’re trying to come up with appropriate testing protocols.

        • 0 avatar
          Makoto

          The assumption is that elio will be using the same steel used in the average car. The Elio will have crumple zones in the front and rear. The passengers will be in a roll cage of higher strength steel that commonly used. It also has steel intrusion steel in the doors to make it much safer. I feel confident that Elio will have a vehicle that is as safe or safer than many cars we all drive now. Crash testing when it is done soon will show that they have done their homework. By the way I have mechanical engineering background and follow the progress of Elio Motors daily.

      • 0 avatar
        Makoto

        no Elio did not try to get it classified as a motorcycle. Most states and the Federal Gov say that any vehicle having less than 4wh eels is am motorcycle. not sure exactly how many states have approved an Autocycle classification so far but at one point months ago there were at least 22 states that had done that. Elio is not trying to get around crash test ing the Elio. The fact is they have said all along that they want the Elio to have a 5 start crash rating. BUT there has been no crash rating for motorcycles. Elio has taken it to the Government to work with them to develop a set of standards that are reasonable for crash rating Autocycles. Bottom line is Elio will be doing several other companies that are developing Autocycles a favor by getting this done. To be clear an Autocycle by the definition being used in many states is any vehicle that is enclosed has automotive controls air bags and seat belts and an automotive type engine.

      • 0 avatar
        Makoto

        Wrong, but what many people have assumed. The only reason that the Elio is considered to be a motorcycle is that the states and federal Gov definition of a motorcycle is “any motor vehicle that has less than 4 wheels”. and you are correct that crash testing for them is not required like it is for cars. Elio motors actually wants this type of vehicle to be crash tested. They are working with the Transportation people to try to come up with reasonable standards that would be used to test three wheeled enclosed vehicles. Some months ago 20 states had already created an “autocycle classification” in their state. More states are working on it now and will likely do it at some point. It means that instead of being classified as a motorcycle Autocycles will have their own set of requirements for licensing in each state. An Autocycle (by definition) is any vehicle having less than three wheels, has automotive controls, seats,seat belts, air bags, automotive engine as well as being enclosed in a crush strengthened frame.

  • avatar
    yamahog

    The existence of this thing nourishes me.

    In 2013 I thought about getting something more fuel efficient and thought, ‘nah the Elio is going to come out next year’.

    In 2014 I thought about getting something more fuel efficient and thought, ‘nah the Elio is going to come out next year’.

    In 2015 I thought about getting something more fuel efficient and thought, ‘nah the Elio is going to come out next year’.

    In 2016 I thought about getting something more fuel efficient and thought, ‘nah the Elio is going to come out next year’.

    Thank you Elio for helping me get an extra 4 years of use out of my car. I’ll put in my deposit once I hear that you’ve hit mass production.

  • avatar
    redliner

    So they have an engine of their own design. They have a working prototype made mostly of production ready parts. The suppliers are happy with the project. Bravo!

    A few questions remain. How much will a well optioned Elio actually cost? How safe is it? How refined are the NVH, chassis, engine and general build?

    • 0 avatar
      Makoto

      They have 5 prototypes the P5 (the red one) being the last and final prototype. As for options there will be no packages like the darn car makes force on everyone. We have all bought cars with options we did not want. but to get something we want we end up paying for an expensive package that has other things. Elio will sell you the Elio and any options you want separately. No you must buy this to get that.
      THe cost loaded wuith options is not something easily figured. the list is long as to what will be available. The most expensive that I’m aware of is the Skyzmatic system. If you buy the complete skyzmatic system that alone can cost $2,000. I may buy it simply because it is awesome and like nothing any vehicle has at present. not familiar with the NVH you mention. however, the driver and passenger will be inside a crush resistant steel frame/cage. The steel used for that part of the Elio will be stronger than the steel commonly used in cars today.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Hey! I just saw that there’s now a Finding Dory movie, too!

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I can see *a* market for a car like this, but I’m not convinced there’s *enough* of a market. The selling point is mileage, but to get an extra 20mpg over a Prius – what’s that, 30%? – you sacrifice an awful lot. And as hybrid systems and ICE improve, whatever advantage it has is going to erode, because bigger manufacturers are going to be able to advance more rapidly than Elio can. It’s hard to see a long-term path to any kind of significant volume or success *as a business*, even if the product itself lives up to all the hype.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      Elio – OTD price of sub-$10k for a new one.

      Prius – OTD price of 25k or so. You’d have to get a 2004-2008 Prius with >120k miles to get into the Elio’s price range.

      I’m a Toyota fan though and through but I wouldn’t buy a Prius with >100k miles unless it had a very good service history. Things can go expensively awry if you neglect the car. That said, I’d buy a Prius with 300k miles on it tomorrow if the service history were excellent.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        You can buy a brand new Versa for $11,990 MSRP. A real car with four wheels and enough room for a small family of humans.

        A quick perusal of Carmax’s overpriced inventory reveals an inventory of over 300 cars 2010+ with under 60k miles for less than $10k. Granted, this list consists of dubious market entries like the Aveo, Fiat 500 and Mitsubishi Mirage, but also the Yaris and Mazda2.

        If Elio can sell enough cars to be profitable, more power to them. But I have a hard time believing that the there’s enough buyers with a four figure budget that insist on a new car with superlative mileage and are willing to accept the compromises of a two seat tricycle for this to work. Like the mythical manual diesel station wagon, most people will just buy a new(ish) Prius if they have enough credit, and if not they’ll get the most practical thing they can afford or go back to Mom’s basement.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          By your logic, no one would ever buy a Miata, Corvette or Mustang because you can get a Dodge Journey – which seats 6!- for less.

          • 0 avatar
            Makoto

            You are another one that misses the point. The Elio is not for carrying a whole family. Something like 83% of the people in the U.S.A. drive a car, truck, …etc to work alone. They must own such a metal behemoth to carry others less often. The Elio is not intended to replace cars. It is intended as an OR car. In other words many people will buy them to commute to work and save money then when they get home if they need something bigger they switch to their regular car. In my case (as many of the more than 55,000 reservationists) I’m buying the Elio for the fun of it. I’m retired and want it to drive for fun. What is interesting is there are a lot of bikers out there that are getting up in age. When Elio started taking reservations many bikers saw it as something similar to what they were familiar with. Many reservations have come form bikers that know they will not be riding a bike much longer. Elio gives them something fun and cheap.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Makoto,
            Stop typing. Drop everything. Quit your job, sell your stuff and drive to Elio this instant. Throw yourself at the mercy of the first person you meet and beg them to work for free.

            You obviously have a ton of passion here, and you remind me of every movie I’ve seen with a main character with the courage to follow his convictions.

            Just do it. I guarantee that you’ll get the girl, have the perfect job and lose 20 lbs. before the credits roll.

          • 0 avatar
            Makoto

            Yep,I’d work for elio if I could. I will pursue it. I already have the girl. And what is funny is I have just lost exactly 20 pounds.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I’d settle for him just using paragraphs.

        • 0 avatar
          Makoto

          I keep seeing people make comments that they wonder if Elio Motors can sell enough Elios to make it work and profitable. Well consider this….Elio just released the results of a survey of the U.S. population. The survey shows that less than 6.9 percent of the population has even heard of the Elio. Yet they have over 55,000 reservations for a vehicle that is not being built yet. I reserved my Elio in late 2014. Some people have had reservations since 2013. I know of several people that have more than one reserved. Saw a picture of a family that is buying one fore each of the 7 family members. I meet people every day that have never heard of Elio. When it is in production and people see one for the first time they are likely to do what I did. I was looking for something fun to drive. Thought of buying a trike but don’t want to spend $40,000 for something that is open and not fun in bad weather. One day I saw an ad pop up to one side of my email window. I saw the Elio and thought how neat, this is what I’ve been looking for. Then my second thought was I’ll bet it cost a ton of money. Then I started investigating the Elio. I could not believe the base price. Then investigating showed me that many of the parts are off the shelf. Such as the seats will come from a mustang. The steering column from a Camero. Using parts rather than having to have parts designed and made cuts costs drastically for Elio. buying the parts means the manufacturers will sell more so they can keep the price lower too.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      This car will cost under 10 g. New.

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      I think the ideal path for Elio to take would be to establish a market for itself with it’s small ICE engines and then follow the market into the hybrid and electric arenas.

      Or Elio could become a prime target for a quick takeover from one of the major players looking for a capable small commuter platform to perhaps help deal with CAFE and CARB. I’m not sure if 3 wheels negates any of that though.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      This is the Tiny Home approach applied to autos. It’s purpose is not showing your friends and neighbors how much you care about the environment, it is about providing cheap, reliable transportation to people that don’t want to live as slaves to meaningless jobs and as debt slaves to the banks. This makes far too much sense to receive assistance from the government.

      • 0 avatar
        Makoto

        I think you missed some of the point of the Elio. Many people want to say the point is mileage and then go off talking about buying this or that instead. But high mileage is only one of the points Elio addresses. There is also the fact that Elios goal is to build the Elio using at least 90% American made parts. Who does that these days? The Elio will put out a lot less pollution than any competitor. Elio will sell the base model with traction control, stability control, 3 air bags, seat belts, Ac and heat, Power windows, power door locks, and cruse control. Car makers like to sell packages of options. Want to buy the leather seats you must buy a package that has other things too. It has alwasy been that way. Car makers make their real money of selling you options often options that you did not want to get a few you do want. Elio will have any option you can imagine, but you pay for only those you want. Then there is the issue of poor people. Studies have shown that many poor people are stuck in their situation due to a lack of available transportation. Instead of buying a used care that might or might not be reliable for a low price they can buy an Elio to get to and from work. Lower price, lower operating costs, and lower insurance cost. And it has a 3 year 36,000 mile warrantee. Elio is also planning to offer an option to get an Elio credit card. The card would not aloow you to use it for anything but buying gasoline on it. If you buy say $15 worth of gas the card will bill you three times that or $45. The extra $30 would go to paying off the Elio. Obviously they would have to have a monthly minimum billed to be sure that the Elio is paid of in a reasonable length of time. but this Elio card possibility would make buying one a possibility for those that could not otherwise. Service will be handled by Pep Boys. Now don’t get the idea that the Elio is built only for poor people. Many of the more than 55,000 reservations have been made by peope that can afford what ever they want to drive. Many like me are buying it for fun, to have an American made vehicle, to save gas and to produce less pollution. Elio makes sense as a recreational / weekend car, a commuter car (can drive in the HOV lanes like motorcycles). It is the OR car. most people will not sell their full sized car. They will just use the Elio when they don;t need a full sized vehicle and then switch to the bigger vehicle if needed. Elio is also a very affordable “extra” vehicle. If you regular car breaks down you have the Elio to drive while your car is being repaired.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      Elio’s big deal (from my non-marketing point of view) is their gas card payment scheme. You pay triple for gas with their card, with the excess double going to car payments.

      If you drive any vehicle now which gets 1/3 or worse the Elio’s projected 84 mpg, then your gas costs will pay for the commute car. This doesn’t factor in insurance, registration, etc, but it’s a valid and unusual selling point. A common car problem is trying to own one car to fill as many roles as possible — commuter, weekend trips, trash hauler, takings kids to soccer practice … the Elio role is the one most in conflict with the others, and fills it as cheaply as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Thinks I, this is just a ticket to getting a government grant.

      Hey…it worked for Elon Musk, right? But Tesla and Fisker have the e-vehicle grant-market pretty well tapped. Try a different theme; see if a few bargain-basement lobbyists can generate any interest from the dull-normal in whatever department writes development grants.

      Besides…like Musk, Elio has an exotic-sounding name. Must be European, or else really-really brilliant!

  • avatar
    arthurk45

    The car looks a lot better when the buyer chooses to delete the stock front fenders and installs wire wheels and a morocycle style fender. Reminds me of the old F1 cars that Fangio drove. Software simulations show the plethora of air bags will quiet any concerns about safety.
    The Feds are about as clueless as some on this blog in not already approving the paltry $200 million (pocket change considering the idiotic administration’s shelling out hundreds of millions to auto companies that don’t even need the money (Tesla) or solar panel companies doomed to failure.
    Do the simple math and you’ll realize that this car will reduce emissions more than a Tesla electric (a lot more), provide reliable transportation to those who could never buy a new car – mostly young singles or couples. And cost little to own, fuel or insure. You can almost call Paul Elio this century’s Henry Ford – the man who put millions on the road and allowed millions to obtain jobs that they could never have gotten to before. The lack of mobility is one of the prime cause of unemployment amongst the lower classes. Paul Elio is on the verge of accomplishing things that make Elon Musk automotive efforts look positively pathetic and worthless. His car is also quite capable of being the first practical electric car in history – its
    modest energy demands would enable a small battery pack to propel his car hundreds of miles and recharge quickly. It will be the electric Elio that
    inaugurates the move to automotive electrification, not Tesla’s vehicles.
    Paul has already mentioned electrification as the next step.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Your level of Sudden Onset Fanboyism is marvelous to behold.

      It can’t carry sh1t and, if produced, is likely to be part of truck commercials boasting the least chassis flex when running one over.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        It can carry a person and a bag or two of groceries or two people.

        We all use vehicles for different purposes but I’ve managed to get around exclusively on motorcycles – I can fit a few days of groceries in my back pack and my only struggle was getting my suits from the dry cleaners.

        I don’t know how typical or atypical my use is but in the past few months aside from driving coworkers to lunch, I’ve never had more than 1 passenger in my car or more than 3 bags of groceries. One time I had two bags of groceries and a passanger.

        It’s not the most efficient use of a 200 inch long car that gets 20-ish mpg.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “I’ve managed to get around exclusively on motorcycles – I can fit a few days of groceries..”

          I had my periods of doing that too and it’s just the baddest ass feeling of independence, ever-readiness and self-sufficiency there is. But what about spouses, kids, pets.. etc?

          And aurthurk45 is likening this little piece of Peterbilt grill debris to the social revolution initiated by the Model T and Ford’s method of producing it when there’s so far no completed/tested version.

          That’s beyond fanboyism.

          It could be a groovy toy for those already owning real, capable and safe motor vehicles. *I’d* get a hoot out of using it for my Bitter Old White Men social events, haircuts & hardware store runs. But invoking imagery of Tin Lizzies liberating the country from rural isolation? C’mon…

      • 0 avatar

        It has a small trunk in the back and with the rear seat folded down it will hold a set of golf clubs. Elio plans (hopes?) to sell commercial fleet versions to be used as delivery vehicles. Domino’s pizza is rolling out a Roush customized Chevy Spark they’re calling the DXP that has a pizza warming oven built in to the back. The same could be done with the Elio. With a rear seat delete, I can see the Elio trike making a fine “sedan delivery” for small businesses. Does the Geek Squad really need something like a VW New Beetle to make service calls?

  • avatar
    threeer

    A piece of me really, really wants this thing to succeed. For 85% of my driving requirement, this would be all I need (15 miles one way, only about 6 of those interstate). It’s just different enough to pique my interests, but then again, I grew up in Germany where small cars tend to run the road (and I dig the smart, as well…sue me, it’s not a Hellcat). Will it work here in America? That’s a hard one to answer. While I have recently seen more Slingshots cruising the road here, those are likely just toys (albeit a tad pricey). I’m not sure the Elio will find a sustainable market for more regular-use customers. But I’m rooting for them. They’re an American-made product that is employing a fair number of folks across the supply chain. Will continue to follow their story (and agree they look better without the full wheel skirts…ugh!).

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Considering that there’s really not all that much to develop here, and nothing truly advanced about it, it’s disappointing that Elio is still showing prototypes. Haven’t we been treated to other prototype showings already?

    I also question the wisdom of developing their own motor. Sure, it has the potential to make the overall product 5% or so better at 5% lower cost but 78mpg instead of 83mpg at the outset and $7100 instead of $6800 a year earlier would have been “good enough” and, in some ways, “better.” Developing the motor delayed production and required a lot of extra capital, both in development and plant.

    It’s hard to say if there’s really much market for this.

    One of these would fit my daily commute needs and I am crazy enough to buy one but Sensible KixStart realizes he can get a decent used car for about the same price which works just as well and better if I want to take a friend to lunch.

    • 0 avatar

      One of the things that interests me about the Elio project is that we are getting a perspective on how a startup business gets a product ready for production, more specifically how a car gets from concept to market.

      Since Elio doesn’t have a product to sell yet, all they can hype is the process, which I think is interesting because it lets us see something car companies generally keep behind closed doors. Normally we see the concept on the stage at the NAIAS or Geneva and two or three years later we see the finished product, with only perhaps some spy shots of a camo’d mule in the meantime. Elio is being a lot more transparent with the process, by necessity.

      Regarding the fact that they’re ‘just’ showing another prototype, each iteration has been closer to production. Suspension design was more or less finalized in the P4. The P5 was their first with their own engine and now the E series vehicles are using a close-to-production unibody.

      The process takes time and I understand why those who put down deposits in 2013 and 2014 are disappointed but my assessment of Elio Motors remains the same, it’s still a longshot in terms of raising enough money, but they are making progress.

      Have you ever been part of a team developing a product for manufacture? When you consider how many components a passenger vehicle has, coordinating all of that development is quite a task, even if there are no new technologies involved. While Paul Elio has touted that they’re going to use as many off the shelf components as they can, the reality is that they’ll still need some engineering to be repurposed. Their proposed instrument panel is an example – it will use the same basic mechanism but the vendor will have to tool up for the changes.

    • 0 avatar
      Makoto

      You don’t see the big picture. Early on Paul Elio decided that the Elio would get great gas mileage and be built without having to depend on suppliers that might or might not play ball. Originally the prototypes and production elios were to have the same 3 cylinder engine that was in the Geo Metro. But they found a few problems with that idea. Computer simulations showed that the best gas mileage the metro engine would be able to do is about 66mpg highway. The goal was to have a vehicle that can do over 100mph, get 84mpg, do 0 to 60 in 9.6 seconds, and be built using at least90% American made parts. Paul Elio is not looking to cut corners nor are most of those that reserved one. As for developing the engine it was necessary once they learned that the metro engine would not meet the goals. So now is the part where people ask why Elio did not just find another engine to use. Nothing that is available would meet all the goals. AND buying engines from outside of Elio would mean they might not be able to get as many engines as they will need. Then to is the possibility that suppliers of that engine might be swayed by outside forces that want to stifle the Elio. Having their own engine designed means that they have an engine designed to meet all the goals and one which they can build themselves.

  • avatar
    Makoto

    Lets get a few things straight. First the article stated “While the E prototypes will have composite exterior body panels, the production Elios will use steel. Elio plans on building 250,000 trikes a year and it’s easier to build with steel than fiberglass in those quantities.” Which is totally wrong. The production Elios will have SMC composite panels which is the same material used for the current Corvette. Not sure why the author things the production elios will be steel panels. The prototype Elios all had fiberglass panels.
    Now I have read the many comments and see that some are here due to genuine interest. Others are here to find fault and reading their comments shows that they have not done their homework. Still others miss the big picture totally. The Elio is to be built to meet four must haves. It is to be at least 90% American made parts and assembled in the U.S.A. in Shreveport, La at the old GM plant that built hummers and large pick ups. It is to target $6800 base price, but will probable be a few hundred dollars over that. It is targeting 84MPG highway. The last stats that were mentioned was that they were at 81.6 MPG. Changes have been made to improve that. There is much more I could say but those that want to know will research the subject. The others will not pay any attention to it since they have made up their minds. Lastly I want to say this…. Elio is the first startup car company to design their own engine. They had planned to use an available engine. Test showed it would not be able to do 84MPG or over 100MPH and be able to do 0 to 60 in 9.6 seconds. Also reliance on outside engine suppliers could be a big problem due to not being able to control availability or price. Elio had IAV design the engine to the specs they want. IAV designs engines for many of the European car companies including Bugatti and other better known premium brands.

    • 0 avatar

      http://www.ktbs.com/story/31392035/elio-motors-has-lost-53-million-according-to-sec-filing
      Worth reading.

      • 0 avatar
        Makoto

        Show me any company that did not own a lot of money before they got running. You won’t find one. At least not a big business.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          Ford.

          Apple Computer.

          Microsoft.

          Gravely Tractor, which went from a one-man business in a private garage, the founder delivering product himself with his Business Coupe…to a stand-alone major lawn-care company, later purchased by S-P.

          I’m sure there are thousands more; but those are off the top of my head.

      • 0 avatar

        When you consider that Elio and their vendors have designed a new vehicle platform and a new engine, things that typically cost about a billion dollars each when done by big car companies, and they’ve only burned through $53 million, which is chump change by Detroit’s standards (that’s less than any of them spend on upgrading something like an engine plant), that figure looks less daunting.

        • 0 avatar
          Makoto

          That is true. and people don’t realize that most car makers do not go to the expense or trouble to develop a new engine ever time they come out with a new car. Car makers have a few different engines which are not designed to be efficient of any particular car. They simply pick one of the engine platforms and perhaps change a little. Bottom line is the engines are not designed for a specific car. They don’t care. Elio did what no one has done since Nash in the 1950s and designed an engine from scratch. They wanted a small gasoline engine specifically for the Elio to,…. go 0 to 60 in 9.6 seconds, have a top speed of over 100MPH, Be able to get up to 84MPG highway / 49MPG city. Some months ago the figure they had for MPG highway was 81.6MPG. Since then they made several small changes to the suspension nose and wheel fairings each giving the Elio better highway MPG.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Not sure why the author things the production elios will be steel panels. The prototype Elios all had fiberglass panels.”

      It’s not what I think, it’s what I was told at the E1A reveal. I specifically asked about the production vehicles using sheet molding compound and was told that steel is more appropriate than SMC for their target production figures. Genesee Stamping will supply both the unibody and exterior body parts. The body panels are not stressed members so it doesn’t really matter what they use as long as they hit their surface quality and weight targets.

      Another factor may be the Shreveport factory. It has a modern paint shop, but a lot of that equipment, like electrostatic sprayers, is meant for metal bodies.

      • 0 avatar
        Makoto

        I think that there is some mis-communications about the panels. They are going to be SMC that was settled long ago and was/is not something that they would change now. As for the paint booths they had that all worked out long ago too. And contrary to popular belief electrostatic painting on not metallic surfaces is done now. Not sure if or how that has anything to do with Elio, but thought I’d mention it.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I have to say they are finding enough dough from somewhere to keep the project alive. So we have to give them credit for that. At some point they have to commit to real tooling ($$$) for the body and engine. They aren’t there yet and it’s halfway through 2016. Even if things go well from here, don’t expect to take delivery until CY 2018 at best.

    • 0 avatar
      Makoto

      Sure Elio needs a lot of money still, but it is closer to 180 million than 200 million. 20 million is a lot of money and people like to throw out the number at 200 million rather than state 180 million.

      • 0 avatar

        After some volatility, a big run up in the price and then some profit taking, the stock they sold to the public with the Reg A+ offering has hovered right around $20/share for the last couple of months, about $6 more than the initial offering price.

        As long as that stays stable, my guess is that Paul Elio, Stu Lichter and other company insiders that hold private shares in the company will end up selling some of those shares to raise money for production.

        • 0 avatar
          Makoto

          I would not bet on them selling any of their own stock. It is possible but I doubt it. I bought 250 shares of the stock. I am an experienced investor. I expected the stock to shoot up then bounce up and down before stabilizing for a time. It has done exactly that. When you think about it many inexperienced people jumped in on stocks thinking they had an opportunity like the beginning of Microsoft and others. but they forgot to consider that Elio has yet to build or sell any Elios. Once people got their heads out of the clouds the stock price normalized. As I see it it is likely to stay in the $20 range until Elio starts building Elios. There are already more than 55,000 reservations. Those range from as little as $100 to as much as $1000 (reservation levels are $100, $250, $500, $1,000) The average of the 55,000 reservations is just over $400. Many of us that are committed wish Elio would let us put more money down. but they are not going to0 do that. When production does start then we will be paying the rest of our invoice bringing lots of money into Elio Motors. In the mean time one of the numerous paths to funds is the recent announcement that Elio Motors has a partner that has global contacts in the Automotive, aviation and boating industries. They are going to market the Elio Engine to those builders. contracts to buy the Elio engine could be worth tons of money alone.

          • 0 avatar

            What Ronnie says, Elio forms highly interesting study material. Like for instance Tesla (got Daimler, Toyota and Honda on board in an early stage), Smart (Daimler hemorrhaged money beyond the $5 billion mark… it still does) and say Aptera (immense initial goodwill that never materialized). ‘Funny’ thing is that there’s still so much room for improvement, new ideas… new vehicles.
            https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-46Qo3kwxTMs/V3vUgxAFxXI/AAAAAAAADWM/iBWOC6qvnlkPahb-T4VU9F2k9GU1VmxYgCLcB/s1600/tesla%2B%252B%2Belio.jpg

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    I put $1000 down, non-refundable, guessing that there’s at best a 50-50 chance it will pay off. Part of my reasoning is that if it does come off, it’s a great deal for commuting and 90% of my driving, letting the car and truck last a lot longer. Part is also to encourage the company and investors.

    My one big worry is not the investment. It’s those damned Elgin watch instrument dials. To those who aren’t familiar with them, they are a dial with the numbers printed around the edge; the dial rotates and a cover plate hides all but the current value. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that reading a number is not nearly as fast and easy as looking for the position of a needle, but that’s not the show stopper for me — it’s that I need long distance glasses to drive, and then I simply cannot read the numbers in any reasonable time. If the Elgin dials is all that is available when times comes to buy, I will either not buy or I will rework the dials — throw away the covers and repaint the dials to be all white with a needle.

    I have mentioned this to them and got back the usual evasive non-committal answers. I do not understand why everything else seems such a reasonable frugal design, and Paul Elio is so stuck on replicating his father’s watch design.

  • avatar
    MisterNoisy

    I hope they succeed – it’s a cool little carlike thing and I’d like to be able to own one as a short-trip errand-runner. That said, I would really love to see this thing with the 140hp 1.0L Ford EcoBoost crammed in there.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Bottom line is this:

    As a motorcyclist, I’d never buy such a thing; but I wish Paul well with it.

    SO LONG as he does it with private investor money. If he gets the goobermint funding he’s probably dreaming and scheming for…I wish him a special pocket in the Ninth Circle of Hell.

  • avatar
    sirkjeff

    what a pain in the axx to leave a reply. why do all these news sites require to join to comment. I have to make up new passwords everytime. just so I do have my passwords that i use for important crap.

    Now I see a lot of hype, but come one they have over 1/3 of billion in sales already and they still cant go into production. I see a big BK in the future. plus im sure the ceo and management are getting 6 figures salaries right now. Plus they are trading stocks. just on a great pr campaign. I think im going to start car company too. who wants in. send me $100 and ill put you on the list.
    by the way, I email them over employment. I am professional in the automotive industry. I got an response form them, saying they not ready to hire anyone. this just tells me they wont be for in the near future. wake people pump and dump.


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