Elio: Sustainable Vehicles Come In A Variety Of Sizes And Configurations

Although many consider the center of the sustainable vehicle universe to be based on EVs, PHEVs, or parallel-drive hybrids, there are a number of other options for those of us who appreciate efficiency regardless of its fuel source. This is particularly true of the new Elio Motors three-wheeled vehicle, since it mixes long-range and low cost, with common sense driving amenities in order to produce something entirely new for the U.S. auto market.

In 2008 enterprising designer Paul Elio decided to see if he could create a new vehicle for the commuter market, where the cost of getting from home to work and back was becoming a significant financial burden. At same time, he wanted to re-energize the auto segment by building his new vehicle on the basis of an All-American supply chain that, in turn, would lead to more All-American jobs.

Consequently, he came up with an innovative tandem-seat ‘cartocycle’ made of equal parts auto and motorcycle, built on the premise of high-tech components while, at the same, cost accounting its way down to a low, low, low, low MSRP. The result is the highly-sustainable Elio commuter car, and I have to say the product appears to be very interesting indeed.

The launch MSRP for the new vehicle is $6,800 plus tax. Yes I wrote that correctly, so just for fun, let’s do it again to make sure; that’s $6,800 plus tax. Now, just on the basis of cost alone, the vehicle has to be a winner, but there’s much more under the skin than just a low price point.

The Elio has been test measured to produce between 80 and 84 MPG on unleaded regular gasoline, and with its integrated 8 gallon fuel tank, the vehicle is able to deliver 640 miles to the tank; which is just exactly what the designer wanted in the first place. The vehicle’s powertrain is driven by a German IAV three-cylinder 0.9 Liter engine, producing 55 HP.

elio motors

The little powerplant creates enough grunt to go from a standing start to 60 MPH in just over 9 seconds and tops out at over 100 MPH; which ain’t bad considering the fact that the vehicle also pushing a enclosed 1250 lb structure along. In addition to the Elio’s performance and efficiency measurements, the little three-wheeler hosts a complete standard amenities package including; AM/FM Stereo, optimized climate control, steering-wheel control sets, power window/door-locks, leather seating, a fold-down rear seat, and options for either manual or automatic transmissions.

All in all, the new Elio is likely to cause quite a splash when the vehicle rolls out of its new manufacturing plant in Shrevepoint LA during the 2015 model year, and along with the tech buzz, the company is also creating 1,500 new jobs. You can buy a production order-position for as low as $100, although you’re going to have to wait regardless, since Elio has already banked better than 20,000 orders already.

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  1. Excellent article, thanks! A couple of comments: it’s Shreveport, LA …. and production is currently slated for Sept 2015, so I would consider that the 2016 model year, but that may be splitting hairs. Really like the sentence about this car being a winner based on cost alone. I also like the invention of the term “cartocycle”. Car + auto + motorycycle.

    • In most of the states that have required modifications to helmet and licensing laws, the Elio is creating a new classification: autocycle.

      It’s easier to say…lol

      MLH #7911 NE

  2. Article reads like a sales pitch. Where’s the journalism? With so many uncertainties surrounding this product and thousands of “all-in” non refundable $1000 deposits hanging in limbo you would think every article would be trying to answer these questions. Will it be produced? What did the recent release of the unrealistic business plan mean for production date? Will it meet the incredible goals of 84MPG, 5 star safety and $6800?

    • Good Lord Mr. Calvano is there no place you will troll your ANTI ELIO feelings at? There are also 1000’s of REFUNDABLE deposits as well. But you know that don’t you. And what release of what buisness plan are you talking about? Oh that is right.. It is you talking out of your fucking ass again.

      of these days you need to tell all of us just what a Community College Graduate
      such as yourself is, who happens to work in IT at some hospital in
      Kentucky, just how he knows more than the engineers who have designed the Elio?
      And just how you know more about business than the big money investors in Elio
      do as well?

      await your reply Mr. Calvano….. Again and again we wait….

      • Duggan I attached the link to the business plan below. Elio has managed to dupe a lot of uninformed people out of deposits. It’s sad that they don’t know when something is “too good to be true”. I race SCCA Solo II in a car I built. I’m an auto enthusiast and a Community College graduate like you pointed out and I live in Kentucky. Are you trying to suggest that I should be ashamed of those attributes? I’m proud of what I do and who I am. I’m a Network Engineer but it doesn’t take an engineering degree to see the obvious gaps in reality coming from Elio.
        Paul’s business plan doesn’t add up. The article below explains why no big money venture capitalists will invest. And why Elio has to rely on duping the public, just like the Dale did.
        Elio has stopped using “5 star safety” and “car” in it’s advertisements, I believe, thanks to my comments. When I see people ask if they can put a baby seat in the back, or give this to their kid as their first car, you know, because it’s “5 star safety
        rated right? WRONG. IIHS doesn’t even test motorcycles so Paul will NEVER get any stars. To even suggest this is as safe as a 5 star Volvo is dangerous and liable.

        Once they stopped making these wild claims I stopped posting. So in fact you are doing more harm to the company replying to me and making me re-hash all these facts.
        I hope Elio can get off the ground. It would be the first success Paul Elio has in his entire career it seems. But I expect that the past will be the best predictor of the future.

  3. Electric is far more sustainable. As the power grid becomes more efficient, electric and plug in hybrids will become more efficient as regular gas car’s emissions controls wear.

    It takes a lot of energy to convert crude into gasoline and transport it.

    Hopefully Elio will offer an electric version at some point once they are stable with mass production.

    • and where do you believe most of the commercial power comes from now? thin air and sunshine? you burn fossils just like the elio will…

      • But in time less and less of the electricity in the USA will be made by coal and diesel. As it stands now, I believe in the areas with the dirtiest power, an economical electric car is as good as a Prius in terms of CO2 but I could be wrong.

        In Washington State over 50% of the energy comes from hydro.

        If there were to be an electric version of the Elio it would be a clear win for the environment because it should get quite a bit more MPGe than a Nissan Leaf or BMW i3 for example.

          • Battery weight is OK, it gives you an advantage in a crash. If the rest of the chassis is designed for the battery it should work well and MPGe will be great even if say the Elio approaches 1800 pounds.

          • How is battery weight advantageous in a crash?

            A lighter vehicle gets pushed out of the way in omst crash models.

            MLH #7911 NE

          • Being in a heavier car, the people in the heavier car would experience less g-forces than if they were in a lighter car. Not so good for the people in the lighter car though

        • Electric has been mentioned elsewhere by Elio Motors as an option they’re looking into. But it won’t be available in the first five years or so, mainly because of electricity’s current range limitations.

          MLH #7911 NE

    • Electric cars currently don’t have the range of gas vehicles. I would like to drive my elio farther than just down the street thank you 😉 and have it still be 6800 dollars.

      • Plugin hybrids or extended range EVs can do that job nicely, like the Volt. Yes they are expensive but can be had used for ~20K right now. So far the Volt battery pack has demonstrated really good longevity with high miles, Leaf battery not quite as good (more degradation). Partly because no liquid cooling/heating, and a wider SOC range so the battery has a harder life.

        • Even the Volt can’t get 672 miles (think road trip) without recharging. The Elio can go from Omaha (where I live) to Denver and have range to spare.

          And $20K is _just a bit_ more than $6800

          MLH #7911 NE

          • It doesn’t ever have to recharge but yeah total range with a full tank of gas and full battery is 3 hundred something miles

  4. How long have you been working on this article? It’s filled with images of the old P3 prototype that was replaced nearly 5 months ago.


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