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Elio Motors looks a lot more more like smoke and mirrors

Who couldn’t have seen this one coming?? Elio Motors has $100K in the bank but $123M in debts.

We may have to wait way longer to answer the question; Is America ready for an 84 mpg 3 wheeled car?

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I might consider one, but certainly not going to pre pay for one.

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Even if Toyota was making it I bet it would have been a market failure. Add the problem of being underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars, and this was a train wreck from day one.

No, we are not. I remember hearing about this a few years ago and thinking that there is almost no market for a single-seater car in the US.

In NH three wheeled vehicles are all classified as motorcycles and require a motorcycle permit to drive. Even if Elio managed to get itself off the ground, I couldn’t get one anyway. No bike license.

The plus side of being categorized like that is that it doesn’t have to comply with the same emissions and inspection regulations that cars do… although I realize that bikes require their own inspections in NH.

Personally, there is a three-wheeler that I’d like. Yup, Morgan is making them brand new.


IIRC, 3 wheelers are also considered, or at least were considered, motorcycles in Great Britain. That’s partly why small 3 wheelers were so popular there after WWII.

In general, people don’t like to buy cars that look stupid. That’s always something designers need to keep in mind.

Additionally, whenever I see the name of Elio Motors, all I can think of is a frozen pizza brand from the '70s & '80s.

Hmmm…let’s see…a drastically under-funded company that is manufacturing a stupid-looking vehicle which can only accommodate one person, and whose name summons-up mental images of frozen pizza.
How could that business plan possibly fail?


I wonder what’s the purpose of the 3 wheel design vs the more conventional 4? Is there some cost benefit to that I’m not seeing? A single wheel can’t provide much cost savings. Maybe 3 wheels allows them to build a transmission without having to include the differential?

George - 3 wheelers don’t have to meet many of the safety and (I think) emissions regs, so it’s much cheaper to make one.

Folks should note, the Elio is a 2 seater, the passenger is behind the driver. Doesn’t make it any more attractive to buy, to me.

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That Morgan is bad-ass looking . . . ! :skull:

The Elio, on the other hand, screams “I’m a loser” :smirk:

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I figured the Elio was a scam from the start. Just some shyster sucking up a lot of venture capital and of course, those omnipresent government grants.

The same goes for the similar VV1 which turned into Persu Mobility; another 3 wheeled bottomless hole.

Being a 3 wheel motorcycle means it doesn’t have to meet crash tests, passive restraints (airbags) or glass specs ( polycarbonate windshield for lightness).

Motorcycles must meet emissions regs and have had to for quite some time. That’s why most are fuel injected now, and some have catalytic convertors, too.

I agree with the sentiment that this thing is an answer to a question NObody in the US asked.

But I would LOVE a Morgan 3 wheeler… with that Harley-Davidson sound!

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At the time of the unveiling of the concept, it was a question we were all asking. $4+/gallon gas in a place that’s usually under a buck-fifty will do that to you. When the Elio was announced, there was only one vehicle commonly available that could get mileage like that for that price, and it was a used first-gen Honda Insight… And with $4+/gallon gas, good luck getting an Insight owner to part with it.

People think gas is cheap now (I think they’re wrong, because I’m still paying $2.50 a gallon and that’s bloody expensive compared to what it was before the oil price spike) and so they’re willing to go along with vehicles that play lip service to fuel economy without actually being any more efficient (Eco-boost, I’m looking at you). And they’re eagerly snarfing up SUVs and big pickup trucks again because America has a bizarre fetish about vehicles the size of buildings, but this little bubble of “cheap” gas isn’t going to last, and when gas prices skyrocket again it’s going to be nice to have efficient vehicles available to choose from.

Of course, it’ll mean the Leaf will sell for $60,000 because people will want it so badly, and that’s where the Elio concept would come into its own. As a city car, the Elio concept is great. Unfortunately, the company is being led by a grandiose idiot who can’t follow through with his promises, but that doesn’t mean the idea of a small, efficient commuter car is a bad one.

Yes, they meet motorcycle emissions regs, which I think are not as strict as car regs. That’s how they’ve avoided cats for so long.


Yes, I agree. I think its that “grams per mile” part of the regs, rather than using a percentage, that favors small engines. Lots of little cars avoided cats in the late 70’s, too.

I’m not sure I agree. For a very long time people have wanted a motor vehicle to commute in that was affordable. When I bought my first new car in '72, a brand new small car cost about 20% of the average household income. Now it’s 33% (fed data says avg household income is $50K/yr, avg small car costs about $20K).

The question was IMHO "why isn’t there a cheap commuter car available?"
The Elio presented itself as the answer… although I too think it was more scam than reality.

We’ve debated the question of cheap, high MPG cars here a few times. While some of us would buy one, it seems the greater market ignores anything without automatic trans, power windows, AC and Bluetooth as well as other items that seem pretty much standard these days. The $9900 cheapo model only seems to be a lure to get the average buyer into the $14,000 up-market model.

Lots of mandatory stuff has been added to the basic car that was not required in 1972. All that adds cost. And safety, too.

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And also drives the question at hand… the desire for a cheap commuter vehicle. :grin:
It’s a niche market, for certain.

I was quoting @Mustangman there, actually. You and I agree on this matter. :wink:

Heck, I consider the Owosso Pulse/Litestar to be one of my dream cars. 100mpg and looks like a fighter jet? Sign me up!