Late last decade, programs like the Advanced Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program and the Automotive X Prize led to the formation of a number of startups promising high-efficiency vehicles.
Most of these have disappeared, the most famous being Fisker Automotive, though we’ve seen some endure, such as Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA]. Another is Elio Motors, which was formed in 2009 by engineer Paul Elio and is still around despite never having sold any cars.
Elio’s first model is a two-seat, three-wheeled car that the company says will return up to 49 mpg in the city and 84 mpg on the highway. Elio wants to sell the car for just $6,800, which would make it a great commuter car for low-income earners.
Elio has been held back by a lack of funds, but the company will build and sell some pre-production versions of its three-wheeled car to create some revenues.
Elio Motors founder Paul Elio at New York Auto Show press conference, Apr 2015
Elio says it will sell 100 pre-production cars that it will build at a former General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] plant located in Shreveport, Louisiana.
These pre-production cars will be sold to fleet customers only, though. Feedback from the people using the cars will help Elio fine tune the design before the start of production of the completed model, currently estimated to be in the fourth quarter of 2016. Sales to end users won’t commence until sometime in 2017, Elio says. The company also says it has 50,000 reservations in its books.
“We now intend to sell the first 100 pre-production vehicles built to one or more fleet customers,” said Paul Elio, Elio CEO and founder. “This will help us generate additional revenue, it will allow us to evaluate vehicles under real-world driving conditions and it will allow our supplier team to refine our design.”
Elio’s most recent design features a 0.9-liter 3-cylinder engine driving the front wheels. The 0-60 mph acceleration run is estimated to take a little under 10 seconds and the top speed should be above 100 mph.
For more details on the Elio, see the article at Green Car Reports.