Elio Motors Needs Just $64M More to Bring Trike to Life

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
elio motors needs em just em 64m more to bring trike to life

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.

Elio’s debt climbed through the end of the year and is now estimated to be well in excess of $141 million, though it did manage to chuck a few grand into the bank before the end of the fourth quarter — not that it matters. The company’s solution to its growing financial emergency is to gain funding through “venture equity, debt arrangements, and capital leasing of equipment.”

According to the SEC filing, the company managed to secure supplier commitments to help soften the blow. Aisin agreed to supply transmissions, Linamar Corporation committed to manufacture and supply the 900 cc engine assembly, and Hyundai DYMOS will supply seats. However, those commitments only account for a fraction of the finances needed, and Elio Motors seems convinced it can procure additional investments via reservations once a prototype and testing models are finalized.

Currently, there are around 65,350 pre-orders with 2017 showing a much less impressive growth rate than 2016.

The company is also selling non-essential equipment obtained through the purchase of the former General Motors plant it plans to use for assembly in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Through December 31, 2016, sales of excess equipment yielded approximately $5.08 million for Elio. The filing lists another $1.27 million in excess equipment it could part with.

Elio hasn’t officially laid off anyone in its relatively minuscule workforce, but many have gone on an extended vacation since the start of this year.

“In order to reduce costs, effective January 1, 2017, the Company furloughed a significant portion of the engineering, manufacturing, and sales and marketing workforce,” reads the SEC documents. “At this time the Company is focusing its efforts on raising capital through a combination of debt and equity offerings. Once capital has been raised, the Company will resume engineering, manufacturing, and sales and marketing efforts.”

There are also some outstanding bills with suppliers.

When Paul Elio pitched this alternative vehicle, he promised it would create 1,500 jobs and offer economical and reliable transportation for $6,800. Now it looks like his staff of 28 is in danger of being let go and the vehicle’s estimated base price has climbed to $7,450. The company has only managed to cover a small portion of the interest on its initial loan.

We hate to see an interesting concept like this fizzle, but even some of Elio’s former supporters are urging the company to just give up. The comments section of the brand’s Facebook page is littered with snarky comments and accusatory language. Many have suggested Paul Elio give up his $250,000 and deliver on his promises or begin refunding pre-order investments. Quitting is likely the last thing Elio wants to do with this much debt on the books.

[Images: Elio Motors]

Join the conversation
3 of 29 comments
  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on May 03, 2017

    $64M is not that much. Hell, $376M is not that much. GM blew a billion on the Alpha platform. I think the timing is bad, is all. The idea doesn't seem that off, though the govt really needs to ease up on the whole 3 wheel vs 4 wheel thing. Makes no sense that I can ride a motorcycle, but if I add 2 more wheels to it it needs crumple zones and airbags to not be a one-off kit car.

  • Brentrn Brentrn on May 03, 2017

    Who could have known that bringing a vehicle to market from scratch would be hard?


      Just ask AM General about the MV-1. I think they finally threw in the towel, even after they took over all the assets of their predecessor and tried to go it on their own...

  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.
  • K. R. Worth noting that the climate control is shared with (donated to) the Audi 5000 of the mid-late 1980s.
  • Sloomis Looks like 108,000 miles to me, not 80,000. Not much better though...