Too good to be true? Car Maker Promises 84 MPG car for $6,800 with 5 Star Crash Test Rating

I hope this isn’t too good to be true, because this is the kind of thing I could go for.

Note that the vehicle has only three wheels…so it technically is a motorcycle…so it can sidestep all the expensive, HEAVY…and thus MPG-eating…regulations placed on passenger vehicles.

The very configuration of this vehicle is a tacit concession that excessive regulations prevent cars from reaching their full MPG potential.

Also, WHY on earth would you make a “reverse-trike” configuration FWD? Driving a single rear wheel is simplicity embodied…ditching that for the typical complex, expensive, and heavy FWD setup seems antathema to a cheap, high-MPG vehicle.

… and yet the designer says it will be crash tested and will be safe enough to get a five star crash test rating. If he fulfills that promise, it will kind of disprove the idea that excessive regulation makes MPGs suffer.

…and if you’ll believe THAT…I got a bridge I’d like to sell you :wink:

I’m not going to believe or disbelieve anything until the car is actually produced. For now, all we have is a prototype.

Elio has a long track record of unmet promises, so I automatically doubt any claims they make. One more thing - let’s assume (remember the definition of assume from Bad News Bears?) it does great in barrier crash tests. I still would not want to be in a crash with any normal vehicle. Simple physics will have the trike thrown far (perhaps into oncoming traffic) from a crash with nothing bigger than an Accord.

Hopefully this car won’t turn out to be as bogus as the Dale 3-wheeler from the '70s.
The car was not what it appeared to be, and…neither was the “inventor”.

In case you never read this tale previously, be prepared for something downright weird…

There are already mass produced three wheelers of on the market with cabs, but they’re focused on performance, lack aerodynamics, and are not cheap. I have no doubt that the concept would work. As regards crash testing, open-wheel racecars allow the occupant to walk away from crashes far, far more intense than any of the standard crash tests. The key is in the passenger cage.

If the designer can get the bugs worked out and come anywhere near his claims this would make a great commuter vehicle. I actually went searching for something like this a few years ago without success to cut my commuting costs and reduce wear & tear on my main car. A motorcycle just isn’t practical enough in this climate to be commuting 31 miles each way on, and it would not be cost effective. Besides, my back prohibits a bike as an option.

I, for one, am optimistic. I like the design. I hope it comes close to its claims.

@texases: “Elio has a long track record of unmet promises…”

That’s good to know. I guess it means it probably will be too good to be true. If it comes to fruition, that price point would be just about right for me. I’d mostly use it for commuting on rainy days.

But he makes such good pizza… {:slight_smile:

I would definitely take their crash test ratings and promises with a grain of salt. Safety ratings are determined by subjecting the vehicle to predefined tests. It wouldn’t be too difficult to design the vehicle specifically to pass these tests, but what happens in other situations? Sure it might be able to take a head-on or a perfect t-bone collision well, but what about the angles in between?

Listen…any 3 wheeled vehicle with a wheel in the back can easily be spun out on the road. A squirrel could easily do a “PIT maneuver” on this machine by simply running into a wheel at speed. I don’t buy it at all. The only way this thing could get a “5 Star” crash rating is with a pile of cash in the front seat. It’s a fluff piece of journalism aimed at getting investors.

and thus MPG-eating...regulations placed on passenger vehicles.

That is so not true…

Cars are heavier, faster, more nimble…and yet get MUCH better gas mileage then before cars had any mandatory regulations forced upon them. And the consumer is far better off for those regulations in safer cars…and able to breath cleaner.

@MikeInNH, but in the early 1990s, we had the Geo Metro getting 40+ MPG, and we had the Honda CRX getting similar great fuel economy. Both of those cars were discontinued due to the fact that they did not meet safety regulations, and their successors did get worse fuel economy. No non-hybrid car gets the same fuel economy as the smaller Geo Metro and the Honda CRX.

By the 1990’s regulations were in full swing.

As I stated…cars built BEFORE regulations…got WORSE gas mileage then they do now. So that GENERAL statement that cars suffered because of it is FALSE. Yes there were some vehicles that suffered from regulations…but overall…regulations have been extremely good for the consumer and our environment.

My 73 Vega is lighter, slower (MUCH SLOWER), less nimble, not as safe then my wifes 07 Lexus…and the Lexus gets BETTER gas mileage. Most cars from the 70’s before regulations get WORSE gas mileage then vehicles today?

The CRX was discontinued because people weren’t buying it, because insurance rates on it were spking, because kids were driving them, being stupid, and crashing them all over the place. If the CRX had been a money center for Honda at the time, it would have been trivial to toss in an airbag system - it certainly would have been cheaper than building the “CRX Del Sol,” which required a total redesign of the whole car.

Fun fact: The gen 2.5 CRX did not require airbags at the time because the law said you had to have a passive restraint system, and the door-mounted seat belts that were supposed to be left buckled in all the time (but never were) counted.

If you approached fuel economy today in the way that the 50mpg CRX HF did, it’d be completely doable - in fact, Honda did it with the first generation Insight. Keep it light, simple, basic, and stop thinking you need to run with Porsches.

Unfortunately, the buying public wants big powerful cars. This is why today’s Accord is a freaking bus when compared to the 90’s era Accords. It’s why people make fun of my TL for being slow because it does 0-60 in more than 5 seconds.

The safety regs don’t really impact fuel economy all that much. The public insisting that every car have a monster engine in it does.

BTW, this car is using a FWD setup because it uses an out-of-the-box engine to keep production costs down (assuming it ever gets produced, which is still up in the air).

@MikeInNH, weren’t there additional regulations added in the mid 1990s for stronger safety cages and better crumple zones?

Mike, my Vega went MUCH faster after I added the rear spoiler… {:slight_smile:

Seriously, emissions and CAFE regulations significantly improved mileage for one very simple reason: the more effectively you burn up the gasoline is the lower unwanted emissions will be AND the better utilization you’ll get out of the gasoline; ie: the more of its energy you’ll pull out. You improve emissions, you also improve mileage.

Safety regulations do add weight and use energy. The airbags, the ABS modulator, the door beams, the improved rollover protection, and the “crush zones” are probably the biggest contributors to added weight. My hood is much heavier than hoods used to be, because (according to Toyota’s design documents) it’s designed to absorb energy and to transfer energy to the upper roof rails. It’s what Toyota calls a “high strength steel” (the document doesn’t have the actual spec). My hatch also weighs a whole lot more than the hatch did on my Vega, because while their sizes are similar, it too is “high strength steel”. And my A-pillars and roof side beams are much thicker than they were on my Vega. My Vega could not have withstood the current requirements, which if I remember correctly are three times the vehicle’s weight without collapse.

So you have in my opinion competing regulations. Emissions and CAFE regulations improve gas mileage, safety regulations add weight, which if Newton was right requires more energy to move, and that uses gas.

Emissions and CAFE regulations improve gas mileage, safety regulations add weight, which if Newton was right requires more energy to move, and that uses gas.

Agree 100%

But companies made adjustments for the better gas mileage.

Mike, my Vega went MUCH faster after I added the rear spoiler

I saw a significant increase when I added the spoilers to my Vega.

I think that the spoilers may decrease mileage around town. At least, that is what VW thought. There was one model of the New Beetle that had an automatic spoiler. It would pop up on the highway, but then retract around town and in slower driving. VW discontinued this feature, probably because it made the New Beetle so fast on the highway that it was dangerous.
When Consumer Reports tested the VW with this automatic retractable spoiler, the test drivers complained that the spoiler retracted with a loud bang. I thought this would be a neat feature–slowing down to approach an exit off an interstate and having the spoiler crash down would be like coming in for a landing in a commercial airplane and hearing the flaps and landing gear lowered.