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Published on May 15th, 2013 | by Jo Borrás

216

Op-Ed: The Elio Motors 3-wheeler Won’t Sell



This article originally appeared on CleanTechnica sister site Gas2.

Elio Motors 2-wheeler

Earlier this week, Troy-based manufacturer Elio Motors introduced more than 20 key suppliers who will be key contributors to the production of the three-wheeled vehicle we featured back in January. Despite industry heavyweights including Altair Engineering, IAV, and NEWTECH 3 involvement; a claimed 84 MPG fuel economy rating; a (dubiously anticipated) 5-star safety rating; and a starting price of just $6,800, I think Paul Elio’s little endeavor will fail.

Scratch that. Elio Motors will utterly fail, completely fail, and embarrassingly fail.

Why should you believe me?

First, you need ignore the big-name suppliers. That’s a smokescreen put out into the newsosphere by Paul Elio’s PR people. All it really amounts to is “Altair Engineering is willing to take my money.” I can walk into a Firestone tomorrow and buy 20 sets of tires, but that doesn’t mean Firestone is in any way “backing” my backyard supercar endeavor, savvy? With that out of the way, let’s get to the heart of why Elio’s “cars” will fail.

Elio’s “cars” aren’t cars. Not as far as the DOT or your local DMV is concerned, anyway. See, tipping the scales at less than 1500 lbs. and with only 3 wheels underneath them, Elio Motors’ three-wheelers are, in legal terms, motorcycles. That’s why vaporware specialists like Elio build three-wheelers in the first place: they don’t have to meet the same stringent, hyper-expensive safety and emissions standards as cars, and aren’t subject to the same rigorous tests. In addition, motorcycle manufacturers aren’t held to the same level of legal responsibility that car companies are, even in hyper-litigious countries like the good-’ol US-of-A.

SO, to be clear, premise 1 in my argument is: Elios Motors’ “cars” are, in fact, motorcycles.

I can already hear you asking, “So, what?” You’re right, of course. Honda sells motorcycles. Yamaha sells motorcycles. Kawasaki sells motorcycles. Why can’t Elio?

Premise 2: Many states require motorcycle helmets.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Premise 3: No one wants to wear a motorcycle helmet inside “a car.”

Tom Servo says you look stupid.

Tom Servo says you look stupid.

Because Elios are motorcycles and no one in their right mind would want to wear a motorcycle helmet inside one of these “cars,” Elio won’t be able to sell any of these “cars” in states that require motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

This simple, helmet-based reasoning doesn’t take into consideration other factors, either, factors like …

  • the cost to insure one of these motorcycle
  • the impact riding a motorcycle might have on the driver’s insurance
  • the additional costs and hassles involved in obtaining a motorcycle license

… and the fact that (sort-of) three-wheelers like the DeltaWing have effectively proven that the Elio is built backwards.

Combine all those things, (probably) insufficient funding, and a design aesthetic that makes Genuine’s Lemonhead look tough, and Elio has all the earmarks of a losing deal. Do yourself a favor and keep your hard-earned money as far away from Elio as possible.

Source | Photos: Detroit News.

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.



  • MichaelinAL

    if you don’t have to wear a helmet in a smart car, you won’t in this either.

  • msscooterpower .

    I was gonna buy it but like everybody else we’re waiting if they offer it as promised in their tee shirts,bumper stickers or as shown in their road shows.The green roadster type(P3) that is.But imagine who would throw out that much money if they finally come up with the ugly (P5,the red or orange one) with the full fender,squared rear with the scooter type light?Just to make it cheaper and reach 84 MPG they made it uglier than anything.We can always put some more money & get a CanAm,A Smart car,the modern small Nissan or Toyota.America.America loves loves & sides with any sporty or roadster type of car,not a third world countries’ backyards assembled toys.

  • tfg

    Unfortunately it is a car and not a motorcycle. A car is an enclosed vehicle. Ya it has 3 wheels but it’s not the first 3 wheel car. There well be no helmets.

  • Fred Bar

    I was wondering why all the hatred in the article and then I realize this is a clean energy site (!). Of course you will hate it. Obviously if it was an electric design you would love it, showing the HYPOCRISY of it all. I mean, as it is with the current production technology and economies of scale, a similar electric vehicle would cost 2.5 times more. We simply are not there yet. Besides, newer technology, such as the one developed by the US Navy to turn seawater into hydrogen fuel (proof of concept was done and it was a hit) will be the game changer that is needed and will obliterate current and near-future battery tech.

    • Fred Bar

      http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/10/tech/innovation/navy-new-technology/ “Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Materials Science and Technology Division, said this week they have demonstrated proof-of-concept on the ability to draw carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater and turn it into forms of gasoline.”

    • Bob_Wallace

      There’s absolutely no hate here for efficiency. It is highly praised.
      Jo pointed out that Elio’s claims are highly optimistic and he expressed doubts that a useful product would come to market for the stated price.
      As for Jo’s style, he’s an excitable boy….

  • future3lioOwner

    Kinda funny you say they will fail with now more than 20,000 reserved (including myself). Not to mention the helmet law you are going on and on about, the enclosed cabin of the Elio makes it so you don’t have to wear one, basically you’re sitting inside the helmet, that includes the most strict state here of California where there is a helmet law but not needed to drive the Elio.
    Don’t worry. The moment I have one sitting in my driveway I’ll be happy to come back here and bash on you just as your bashing on them.

  • Bomephus

    So how much were you paid to dis the Elio? Two-wheels forward is a much more stable configuration, although it’s harder to engineer. Check it out: http://www.wimp.com/reliantrobin/

    Likewise, your helmet map is deceptive. Only 5 state and DC currently require adults to wear helmets, and Elio lobbyists are working to get exemptions for them. Obviously the helmet laws were not intended to be applied to enclosed vehicles and likely won’t be enforced that way. http://www.eliomotors.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/united_states_V4.pdf

  • Soren Harvey

    I couldn’t disagree more! First of all, it is not necessary to have a motorcycle license to operate a three wheel vehicle. Most states with helmet laws do not require that the driver wear one in an enclosed vehicle, regardless of the number of wheels it rides upon. Gas is ridiculously expensive!! If this vehicle delivers the mileage and crash test ratings it promises, I think people who commute daily, and well over 90% of them commute alone, will buy them in droves! I (and many I have spoken with about this vehicle) cannot wait to buy one! Bring on the Elio!!

    • Bob_Wallace

      The big question is whether it can be built for the claimed price.

  • Dr Louis Choquette

    FYI – You might have quessed, but with a name like Choquette, my grandparents came from Montreal, Canada. That makes me a citizen of Canada and the US. Be careful who you call “you guy” because it might just be “us”, as in this case,

  • BryanHeadrick
  • David Hite

    So all but four states have changed/modified helmet laws for “autocycles”. No helmet will be required. I know California will also not require a motorcycle license to operate the Elio, so I am sure that will be the case in a lot of other states as well. I really like the car. Yes, I call it a car.

  • Bubba Nicholson

    It is not backwards in the experience of the cycling community. Two in front and one wheel behind give superior performance. Morgan of England makes similar machines and their experience is anticipatory.

  • Soren landfall

    Honestly I don’t agree with this article at all. I know it’s not exactly new but with the time passed it’s good to show that not everyone can make accurate predictions, and that in-depth research trumps personal opinion.

    One of the major factors in the car possibly being a hit is with the company addressing two major factors in the vehicle’s design, Cost and Efficiency. The low cost lowers the pay barrier significantly and allows almost anyone including myself, a minimum wage worker, to obtain one at minimal cost. The efficiency in it’s design, from it’s awesome fuel economy to it’s low maintenance costs from it’s “over the counter” parts selection only add to the benefits.

    As for motorcycle helmet laws, those only apply to vehicles without an enclosed cockpit. Jay Leno owns an Aptera, an electric car with the same three wheel configuration as the Elio and he was able to drive it legally without a helmet due to it’s cockpit being enclosed.

    Also, comparing the Delta-Wing to this is really an inconsistent comparison. The Elio uses aerodynamics to reduce drag and improve it’s fuel economy, while the Delta Wing merely uses it to reduce drag and improve it’s speed. Fuel Economy isn’t an issue for a racer. Fuel Economy is an issue for the average Joe and Jane like you and me, the people this vehicle’s target demographic is aiming for. This isn’t event he first time this configuration has been used for this purpose. There are vehicles like the Aptera Electric Car, which uses it’s aerodynamics to reduce drag and allow the vehicle’s electric motors to work more effectively and thus improve it’s battery life.

    Another thing to consider is just how many are in reserve to begin, as of March, 2014 there are over 12,000 reservations for the vehicle. Now of course it’s not a mind boggling number, but it is relatively impressive and that number of people driving around in those and telling their friends can spark a chain reaction of rentals or purchases. To say this is an “embarrassing fail” is more or less insulting. If it does crash and burn, they’ve put forth a pretty promising effort and debunked a myth of fuel economy meaning more expensive. But I believe they can make it work. Even if the price goes up by about 1,000 in mark-up by launch, it’s still a smart buy.

  • ChuckGG

    I’d love one as a commuter car. Perfect for me.

  • Jose F. Sabado Jr.

    I’ll buy this car when they sell it in public.

  • macrumpton

    Ill take that bet. I predict if they can keep the price under $8k they will sell a zillion of them. Imagine being able to finance the purchase of your vehicle entirely on fuel savings? My wife spends $250 month on gas, and this vehicle would reduce that to $80, not to mention cheaper car insurance. It will nearly pay for itself within 3 years.

  • Steve Gillon

    This article is bogus. She’s ignoring the fact that many, many baby boomers who are already motorcycle riders (Harley davidson’s HOG group has 2,000,000 members) are having more trouble manhandling their 700-900 lb two wheelers, and are looking to switch to trikes. This machine also protects from rain and snow, which makes motorcycling possible year round, even in Alaska! Legislation is moving along nicely in many states to excuse drivers of ‘autocycles’ from wearing helmets. Most importantly, Elio is a niche vehicle, only needing to sell about 225,000 vehicles per year to be totally successful. Even if you factored out the 5 states that require the driver to wear a helmet (the map she shows is bogus) then Elio can still be wildly profitable. Over 3,000 of those reservations are non-refundable, $1,000 commitments to buy, which is solid evidence (no solid evidence in this article about any of her claims) that there IS demand for this vehicle. Too bad this author put her mouth in high gear before she engaged her brain!

  • Justyne

    One thing this author hasn’t found out is that Elio has gotten most states to write an exception on their helmet laws in regards to their product- so most states, even with helmet laws, won’t require you to wear a helmet when you drive an Elio.

    I have one on reserve, and I can’t wait to get mine.

  • Cecil-T

    Why has the Deltawing “proven” that this is built backwards? There are a lot of unsubstantiated arguments here.

  • Bomephus

    I see your points, but I think you missed what will make them sell-out fast:

    5: Reverse trike design are much more stable and performs better than old-school delta design.

    4: Low operating cost

    3: Many helmet laws may allow the roll-cage/roof to qualify

    2: Looks much cooler that than the embarrassingly ugly Snyder

    1: It’s as comfy in bad weather as a car, but can take the HOV lanes

    They are not selling to people wanting a cool ride, but frustrated commuters, and there are millions of them.

  • Gromit

    Interesting. An alleged environmental-focused, clean energy advocate laying wet blankets on a promising development for personal transportation.

    Is the fear that the free market might actually provide a single occupant transportation solution instead of forced solutions like transit or alternative energy? All your analysis applies to those other solutions. Why not admit that people are not willing to forgo the freedom afforded by single occupant transportation and embrace a solution like this?

    And it is highly ironic that the chief mockery of this approach pertains to personal preferences, but then the Green folks want to force feed the unwilling population a transit system. With light rail costing six million per lane mile, a city could buy tens of thousands of these vehicles and give them away to solve congestion, efficient transportation and parking for the money typically spent on transit.

    Disappointed that clean energy advocates are so scathing about this promising direction. It tells me that “clean energy” is not really about efficiency, but about social change.

  • NOBAMA

    As for wearing a HELMET in a car, evidently you must be totally ignorant to the fact that racers do it all the time. Being a former racer, if required it would not be an issue, since the prospect of saving money on FUEL would be worth it.

  • Guest

    Update: There are only five states left that would require a helmet and one state left that would require a motorcycle license due to exemptions. Insurance is expected to be good due to the expected rating and availability of parts that are not custom.

  • Vic

    I’m a struggling college student like most people that purchase their first car and I would buy one. I like the look and the 2 wheels in front design is very stable. I’ve considered a motorcycle as a mode is transportation for the fuel economy but this vehicle offers not only that but added safety features and protection from the elements. To me this is the best of both worlds.

  • Tommy Smith

    I’m a little late to this discussion but my thoughts are I would definitely buy one as soon as they are made with the 84 mpg motor in it and not the geo engine. I work at Kia and most of my co-workers drive from Atlanta and some have apartments near work because they can’t afford to drive home everyday, this might not be the next big thing but I can see a big market for it.

  • Stank

    I ride an R6 and would gladly “drive” one of these vehicles.

    Id also like to add that I am 34 with 20 years on two wheels and my full coverage insurance on my sport bike is roughly $250 a year.

    That being said, all riders are far from the same.

  • red_niner_zulu

    Always going to be plenty of negative comments, trolls from the big gas guzzler, and oil corporation elitist…….We will wave at you when we pass you by as your filling up those gas hogs, and making the oil tycoons richer……see ya at the pump chump…lol

  • Buffole

    Ok, so lets say motorcycle that is not a bad thing. Can-Ams spyder sells well as do the HD trikes and the many other motorcycle trikes that are out there.
    Minnesota has a three wheel license that can be had using your own three wheeler, you can get a 1 year permit first to practice, if you have a motorcycle license you are all set.
    As per insurance in Minnesota you can insure a Goldwing Trike, Spyder or HD tri-glide for under $300 year.
    The vehicle is not for everyone but I think the price point is great and if they build a good dealer base it should do well.
    Having a motorcycle dealership relationship to sell these would be a big plus for the company and the motorcycle industry.

  • Jal Para

    You are assuming the States with helmet laws will consider this a motorcycle because it doesn’t have 4 wheels. BUT, maybe they Won’t consider it a motorcycle because it is Enclosed. Enclosure may very well trump wheels at the State level.

  • Peter Malia

    Personally, as a motorcyclist without a car license in the uk, I would have one of these for work and winter distance. Yeah it’s not pretty, but if it’s cheap enough, it’s a viable tool.

  • Flibberdy Gibbet

    I love the look. Very futuristic and different, which is preferable to every hondahyundaifordchevykiawtfever bubble car on the road today. Seriously who can tell the difference without looking at the brand name? it’s amusing to me that anyone cites the cost of the Elio as a reason it wont sell when the Metro sold for the same amount. Lastly, helmet laws. lulz. There are a lot of people who live in states where helmets are not required, and even if they are, apparently you’ve not heard of the ‘invisible’ helmet which I am sure will be available and preferable soon, given that it actually works compared to your average pile-of-steamers Bell, etc. Dude, I thought you were all about the tech. Try not being an industry shill just for a few articles?

  • frankfan42

    I disagree Joe, I think this has a legit chance to succeed. The economy may shunt them but I went to see it in Cincinnati this summer and people really liked the car/bike. The fact that its a motorcycle is not really an impediment to many of us, as many of us already have the cycle endorsement. The fact that its considered a motorcycle is actually a PLUS in that they can avoid all the red tape “Certification” of automobiles.
    So why do you think its backwards? You give no reason. But then the curmudgeonly often don’t give a reason. The odds are against a new start up, but they deserve a shot.

  • Perry

    I live in Ca.. Omg, get a copy of a DMV code and read it. Helmets? Motorcycle lic.?
    Who are you? Your an embarrassing fail.

  • Jeffrey Adams

    This vehicle is not built backwards at all. Quite the contrary. Anyone with the slightest understanding of physics knows this. Anyone who’s ever ridden a conventional trike and a CanAm Spyder can tell you that too. Ever seen a Reliant Robin in motion? That “car” is built backwards and it shows. And motorcycle insurance? It’s cheaper than cheap.

  • nomad

    i believe these vehicles are going to sweep the big car companies under the rug unless they can come up with a comparable vehicle for the same price.i plan to buy one.dont need helmet in mn unless under 18.

  • Jeff See

    I can tell you, that the helmet part isn’t a sales stopper for everyone.

  • crutch

    Louisiana has just passed a law to waive the helmet requirement for enclosed 3 wheel vehicles

  • ed ellis

    This entrepreneur is seeking an alternative to the blackmail strangle hold of the oil companies on America …..

    The very price of gas can restrict the freedom of people

    to travel to see family or just for fun .

    Everyone is an armchair critic ,,, but he is the only one getting off his ass .

    Much the same as obama care ,,,since F D R was the president everyone talked shit about that dream…. BUT now it has been done and set in place and it will take years to polish .

    If the republicans had got off their ass when they were in control they could have set the agenda to suit themselves.

    I do not like either party because they do more damage with graft ,,, than good .

    Try this >>>>

    imagine having a non-profit utility company

    that does not need to raise rate to pay dividends and
    can actually bill the customer for half of current rates >>>>

    Now apply that to wall street .

  • Wayne Goodrich

    I’m looking forward to having something I can go back and forth to work and not kill me at the gas pumps. I really don’t believe it will get 84mpg and 69 in town. That’s the kind of fuel mileage that little 50cc scooters get, not a 1000cc Auto/cycle. I ride my bike, Vulcan 1600 during the nice days and drive my pickup truck during the rainy days and most of the winter. My truck kills me in gas mileage . Elio has already gone through La. state government and got it classified as a car, so other states should follow suite. Even if it is classed as a m/c ,I already have a m/c endorsement and I’m older than the age limit for this state (Arkansas) to wear a helmet. Have to wear one under 21 yrs old. So, they are backwards? That means the Can-Am Spider, and the T-Rex (there is one in the movie “Biker boys”) is backwards also? A lot of people I’ve told about this is saying how cool it is and I think it’s great and want to know where to get one. Now if they can just come out with an Electric version, that would be really great news ! But I’ll take a gas one for now. Also, I think they will sell like hotcakes and I’ve asked them about becoming a dealer for them .

  • RC

    ummm I emailed the California Department of Motor Vehicles it took them awhile to figure it out but they said the Elio will be registered as a motorcycle but will only require a class C regular automobile license, motorcycle m1 & m2 in California are only for 2 wheel motorcycles there are no special requirements for three wheeled vehicles so they fall under class C. get all your facts oh I believe Elio will be successful. as for the comments about nobody drives a 3 wheeler someone better tell CanAm their 3 wheelers that are everywhere in California won’t sell, quit selling them they are a waste of time.

  • Roger, Wa. St.

    Have had my eyes out for a basic enclosed commuter that hasn’t been filled with silly expensive gadgetry for some time. Designing with the 2 wheels in front is the safest configuration- low center of gravity means if you have to slow hard while cornering there are no tipping issues. Nobody has to wear a helmet in an enclosed vehicle, period. Insurance will be less because it’s made inexpensively- and it’s not hard to design such a vehicle with an effective cage chassis for good safety. Sourcing parts for a simple car as this shouldn’t be hard either, motorbike and car makers have lots of options available. Not sure why Jo has such a problem with this.. no real reason why Elio shouldn’t succeed, I am certainly going to seriously consider getting one when they arrive.

  • srichey321

    The Elio is a great concept. I live in San Diego and it is perfect for this area, but it depends on if they can really deliver it under 10k.

    • Klaas

      At the end of the day. If they can deliver everything they promise. I think this car will sell like crazy. How many cash strapped college kids would love to have a car like this. Just going to work and back will save me a ton of money in the summer. It would pay for itself easily. I live in WI. so I do not see myself driving it in the winter. I am happy someone is attempting to make this happen.

  • Bob_Wallace

    You folks who pay a lot of attention to cars and motorcycles, especially their prices, could you do some guesstimation-explanation for me?

    A 2013 Nissan Versa 1.6 S sells for $12,780. The differences I see between the Versa and the Elio are that the Versa has one more wheel and seats 3 more people.

    There’s the difference in fuel mileage, but let’s leave that aside. I get that.

    The Elio is stated to sell for $6,800. That’s really close to half the cost of the Versa. 53%, to be exact.

    How does someone drop a wheel, a few seats and the metal needed to wrap around them and cut almost 50% off the price of the cheapest sedan for sale in the US?

    The Versa curb weight is 2,354 pounds. The Elio ? Carving off a lot of body can cut weight, allow for better aerodynamics and increase mileage. But what is being cut is relatively cheap metal and some upholstery, not pounds of platinum. Hard to believe that the extra sheet metal and stuff would cost even $1,000.

    The Elio is suppose to be more than a tin can on wheels, cheap because it’s not safe. Here’s what their web site states…

    “Each Elio comes equipped with a Safety Management System that includes
    three airbags – a reinforced roll-cage frame, Anti-Lock Braking System,
    and 50% larger crush zones than similar vehicles. Preliminary safety
    tests on computer models anticipate a 5-Star safety rating.

    We will have 3-wheel disc brakes with the Anti-Lock Braking System on
    15″ wheels. So your Elio will not only stop onlookers in their tracks,
    it’ll stop you, too – quickly and safely.”

    It’s got AC and a CD player.

    Other than a fourth wheel and more interior space I can’t identify the Elio/Versa difference.

    “The body panels are made of a composite….” Composites generally are not cheaper than metal. Well, I suppose cheap plastic could be, but that’s not what people are expecting.

    Nissan has economies of scale going for it. It has supply streams in place and trained workers. Window crank to window crank, Nissan should have lower manufacturing costs.

    Can someone explain the savings? I can’t see where they might come from.

  • Albert Chambers

    I’m in South Texas. No helmets in sight. 100 sweltering degrees. Everything is 500 miles away (except Mexico).
    The Elio looks pretty good.

  • Bill Thompson

    Wow, what an ill-informed article. It has less than four wheels, so it is registered as a cycle. Check. From there, you go downhill fast. Suggesting that a single front wheel is more stable than dual fronts ignores physics, science, and a hundred years of three-wheeler automotive history. Helmets?!? Geez, dude, do a little research — rollover protection obviates the requirement for a helmet. It’s legally a motorcycle, but constructionally it’s a three-wheeler car, with crumple zones, airbags, and stressed monocoque cage. They’re aiming for 5-star safety ratings. This thing should handle like it’s on rails, be a featherweight blast to drive, give spectacular mileage, and have all the creature comforts of a sedan. Gee-whiz jet-fighter tandem seating a plus. For less than seven grand? It’ll be a game changer in the American market. Plus, its dead sexy, like the love child of a Morgan, Lotus Seven, and 300Z.

  • Cunning_Linguist

    I drive 80 miles round trip to work each day and live in Florida, which doesn’t have a helmet law. At $4 a gallon for gas, I’ll save roughly $2400 a year driving the Elio to work vs my current vehicle that gets 30mpg. For those challenged with math, that means the Elio will pay for itself in 3 years. With those numbers, I can justify having a second vehicle for weekends and vacation that fits my lifestyle but doesn’t necessarily get great fuel economy; like a sports car or large SUV for hauling toys.

    There’s hundreds of thousands of people in similar situations in the half of the country that doesn’t require helmets on “motorcycles”. Also, are changes in law really that uncommon? The Elio may in fact fail, but it shouldn’t and I’ll have one before it does if it’s ever produced.

  • BAD f3

    Black Art Designs and Suplex designed and produced the initial coil-overs (dampers) for Morgan’s new 3 wheeler. 3 wheelers can be a lot of fun. I respect Mr. Elio and the entire team for all their hard work and vision. I for one, hope they reach all their goals. If they do, I believe we will all benefit.

  • jquigly

    I live in a metro area where you can see occasionally ferraris among the numerous mercedes, porches and bmws. A lot of people in this area make enough in one day to buy a $6800 car. There is a larger number of people that make more than that per week. If this car reaches the market it will immediately be seen on HOV lanes. People will buy a motorcycle helmet at Walmart and keep it in the car. When you go for your test for a motorcycle permit you would just drive it wherever, takes no practice to learn to drive it.

  • lug

    Success is always hard but this vehicle has a few things going for it. Price – This is cheap enough that more may risk it as opposed to a full priced vehicle. Another is that it eliminates the motorcycle’s main weakness, no all weather capabilities. This is enclosed and air conditioned. I highly doubt he will sell his target numbers but I’d want to see what is his break even number before making a guess.

  • Steve

    Have you seen the number of Smart cars on the road. People are lookin for affordable transportation, and I think the car looks pretty cool. My only concern is with all the hype, where are all the cars. Even in small numbers, he should be selling them now, instead of running around hyping them. Thats what is making this look like smoke and mirrors. Stop taking advanced sales, start making cars.

  • garito

    They all laughed at Fulton and his steamboat……as the song goes

  • Dr Louis Choquette

    Oh-oh, I did some research on the 1.0 liter engine used in the Geo Metro, which is the same engine the Elio is using with a modified head. This engine uses a timing belt and not a timing chain. Vehicles with timing belts is a deal-breaker for me because I don’t want to pay for any preventable maintainence. This coupled with the fact there have been several years the Geo Metro 1.0 liter engine had a tendency to break timing belts – not good. Personally, I’d like to see a small diesel engine with a timing chain in the Elio. I’d bet it would get over 100 mpg.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Let’s see.

      In order to avoid a charge of a few hundred dollars to change out the belt after 60k miles you’ll pay thousands more to purchase another vehicle and then pay thousands more on top of that for fuel.

      OK…..

      • Dr Louis Choquette

        If I was willing to buy a care with a timing belt, I could buy a used VW diesel for under $5000, pocket the $1800 differnce and use it for fuel plus have safe vehicle that has room for 4 or five passengers. Of course the advanages of the Elio over a used VW are 1) the Elio is new, 2) it can drive in communter lanes in California because it’s classified as a motorcycle, and 3) the VW gets 42 mpg while the Elio gets 84 mpg.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Heck, I’ll sell you a used Ranger pickup for even less than that, you can pocket even more money, and haul stuff in the back.

          I was getting ready to donate it our public radio station, but I’ll make you a nice deal.

          Comparing used to new is bogus….

          • Dr Louis Choquette

            I’m comparing $ to $, and transportation to transportation. The only difference between new and used is often just safety or styling concerns. A used reliable vehicle is better than an unreliable vehicle that costs more to maintain. In the case of Elio, the reliability of the structure is unknown but the relibility and weaknessess of the Suzki 1.0 Liter engine are known. Elio could use a known reliable design that uses a timing chain and the problem would be solved.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Come on, that’s an intellectually dishonest argument.

            If you’re talking about making a personal buying choice, then you can compare the Elio to a dog cart if that’s what you want to do.

            But judging a new vehicle on its merits requires comparison to other new vehicles.

          • Dr Louis Choquette

            You work for Elio marketing department – right?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Right.

            And you’re a proctologist who really puts his head into his work – right?

          • Dr Louis Choquette

            Not really, I just like to look at the whole picture and not just the view someone tries to sell me. I do hope you realize that different people have diiferent prospectives and reasons for buying a vehicle. Your view is not the same view that is shared by everyone. And surprise, neither is mine. Good luck work for Elio.

    • Casmige

      It comes with a timing C-H-A-I-N. Your ass-ertion is invalid as a result.

      • Dr Louis Choquette

        I hope you’re right, but HEY what’s with the attitude?

        • Casmige

          French Canadienne.

          Our Attitude is oft mistaken for “Attitude”.

          But then again? the Article probably set my teeth upon sour grapes just a little bit, my apologies.

          It’s really a great time for this type of affordable automobile here in the States.

          Oil & Natural gas are at an all time over-production Glut however we’ll NEVER see the price under $3.00USD per US Gallon ever again.

          It’s the US Money Supply Monetised Debt Thimble-rig really.

          “They” did it to you guys in the 70′s where “They” inflated the money supply & then commenced with “Inflation” starting with energy & then a creeping up-tic across the board ending in an up-tic (Finally) in wages.

          Scarcely cannot believe the manner in which you supposedly educated American’s actually vote for imbeciles on the Left.

          Gone are the days of the JFK Democrat.

          There is apparently more worry about a timing chain versus belt…….lolz.

          Even belt technology has progressed beyond the need to replace every 60K, now it’s almost double that figure….& easily a DIY at most 4 hour project.

  • GJPinks

    This twit has palmed this uninformed oped to several web sites. He is laughably wrong. Only two or possibly three states will require helmets and or M/C liscencing . If they cand bring 70+ highway mpg, A/C, heating and radio to market under 8,000 dollars, they will create a major automotive shift. If they can do it for $6,800, they will sell 100,000 units the first year (if they can handle the production load). That would be about 10 years supply of Chevy Volts.

  • Dr Louis Choquette

    Mr. Bob Wallace. Your hypothesis that the increase to motorcycle fatalities is due to older drivers is actually an interesting one. I did a quick search on the internet and found that there is some merit to what you say – in 2011, motorcycle drivers inthe 50 to 69 year old had alot of fatalities but so did the drivers in the 20 to 29 year old and the 35 to 39 year old groups with the most fatalities in the 25 to 29 year old group. These statistics of course are only for one state for one year so I can’t say what the overall trend is for all 50 states for the past 10 years is but it does seem that drivers in the 30 to 50 year old age group were the safest motorcycle drivers in Illinois in 2011.

    http://www.startseeingmotorcycles.org/MOTORCYCLE%20SAFETY%20AT%20A%20GLANCE_2011%20Fatalities.pdf

    • Bob_Wallace

      I live in an area that is a prime draw for motorcycle tourists, very scenic and some great cruising highways. Because of that my sample of older riders on very large machines is probably skewed.

      We have our share of accidents and fatalities. Just an informal guess is that the majority are not the riders’ fault, but bikes getting hit by cars. The more mature riders are generally very responsible riders, but getting hit by a car is not something that is easily avoided and protection is slight.

      We get a few younger riders on smaller bikes and some of them are just stupid riders. This time of year I can expect to be passed by a rider who crosses a double yellow heading into a curve in order to ride significantly over the speed limit.

      Again, that’s not data but only observations. And probably says nothing about the safety of the Elio. It will be most interesting to see how well that machine sells if it comes to the market. It looks like a very practical commute machine and would greatly increase our petroleum efficiency.

      • Dr Louis Choquette

        As battery technology gets better and cheaper, we’ll see more and more vehicles achieving great MPG, but as you correctly point out, the Elio would make a great commuter vehicle and lessen our dependence on petroleum. I believe vehicle mpg will get better over time but I’m not as confident about motorcycle safety. I do hope the Elio motorcycle is as safe as they predict. Other manufactures like Lit Motors are also planning on delivering enclosed motorcycles with seat belts and air bags next year but the Lit Motor’s C-1 all-electric 2-wheeler will cost around $25K. If Elio really is safe, gets great mpg, and costs $6800, Elio is positioned to be a runaway success. The real question in my mind is “Can Elio walk the talk?” or are their claims all hype? Time will tell.

  • Dr Louis Choquette

    Crash fatalities in automobiles have decreased over the past decade but have increased in motorcycles. If Elio does live up to it’s marketing and provides the protection, mpg, price, and fun to drive factor it says it will, I think it will sell very well. An 84 mpg two-seater for only $6800 gets my attention! I do hope it really is a safer motorcycle.
    PS. I’d like to know more about the drive-train.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” but have increased in motorcycles”

      I wonder why.

      Seems like there are an awful lot of old farts (my age) out riding big two-wheelers these days. Might the reason be older drivers with poorer reflexes, or more bikes on the road, or something else?

      Having come close to being hit a few times (while on four wheels) by people busy talking on their cell phones, might that be the problem?

  • Wendy Wagner

    I am already working this into my budget. Wearing a helmet is such a small price to pay, and I know some people in my state government that could help fix that issue.
    As a former member of the middle class (now the low end of that group is the working poor, with less to spend than the food stamp set) I can pay over half the price for one of these with a tax return. Liability insurance for the year on a motorcycle in Missouri would cost less than I would save in a month. And I would get to drive a cool new car for once.
    I can even get a big Made in the USA sticker for it. They should make that an option!

  • Pedro Suarez

    It’s not like texting laws ever stopped us from buying a car. Drinking and driving stopped us from buying a motorcycle.

  • Matt Radcliffe

    The info-graphics are lies supplied by the Detroit news and the author can’t comprehend the idea that anyone might disagree with him. He thinks that it should have been made as a delta trike (the kind that tip over when they turn) for no reason at all.
    Wearing a helmet in the car would be annoying. Riding a motorcycle every day, rain or shine and being comfortable is well worth it. Sure it isn’t as much fun as a Monotracer or a Carver but it is a tenth the price. They will sell like hot cakes. Think of them as all the practicality of a scooter, and then some, comfortably, in any weather.

  • Marrio

    The Author is just a Hater. I’m buying one.

  • Steve

    Whatever Jo , I am gambling my $100 to get in line. This is an idea whos time has come. I want one!!!

  • Jason Landstrom

    I’m willing to get a motorcycle license and wear a helmet if I get to use the commuter lanes. I wish them all the successes and I am willing to support them.

  • MKB

    The Elio will succeed because the Can-Am is a success.

  • Bob Merg

    Oregon DMV “Operators of motorcycles with an enclosed cab are not required to wear a helmet or have a motorcycle endorsement.”
    Even if I had to wear a helmet, or have a M/C endorsement, I still want an Elio. This is the “motorcycle” for those that wouldn’t buy a motorcycle. Try to buy a motorcycle for $6800. that gets 80+ mpg, and can do 100 mph. Good luck! I haven’t had a motorcycle in the last 20 years that got more than 50 MPG. I’m betting your behind the curve, and haven’t a clue to a start up that auto, and motorcycle manufactures will envy.

  • Ed

    My motorcycle insurance is much less expensive than my car insurance, so that argument doesn’t hold up

  • mself61

    hummm and WHO ARE YOU ? funny there is NO NAME attached to this OPINION review.. so yeah.. WHY SHOULD ANYONE TAKE YOUR WORD ?, you seem to be bent on helmet laws where in fact most state already approve a vehicle like this requires NO helmet, even if it did I still think it would be worth it !, so again I want to ask who made you an authority on the auto industry and how it is “supposed” to work ? maybe they should have teamed up with GM and all the others that WENT BANKRUPT and got BAILED OUT ! savvy?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Jo Borrás is not a name?

      How about you save the shouting (all caps) for the clouds? It hurts our tender ears….

  • pateriot

    My Uncle is fairly Liberal and he has put $1000 down to be one of the first ones to own one of these. I am very Conservative and I can’t get one fast enough! If this guy is successful at manufacturing this vehicle, at this price, he will very quickly be the richest man in the World!!!

  • Lee B

    Negative much? You should applaude this endeavor and hope that it is a success. I am pretty sure you would not be required to wear a helmet (even in MA) as it is an enclosed vehicle. Also, MC insurance is not expensive.
    Elios is built backwads? No, this is far a more stable platform than the single wheel in front.

    As for the price .. I doubt they can do that but if so or even close, I am very interested. Hell, it is hard to get a motorcycle at that price that fits my 6’4″ 280# frame.

    I hope they do well.

  • doug

    This op-ed isn’t very well thought out, has obvious inaccuracies and poor logic. There are plenty of states where helmet laws are not in effect – not to mention the fact that they can be dispensed with in a new class of vehicle hybrid built around a roll cage and passing automotive crash test standards. It is NOT built backward and the idiotic evidence offered is silly – apparently the author did no research on engineering and chose instead to do a quick internet search and pick the first thing that seemed to be a dissenting design. Blithering imbecile.

  • Ender69

    I like how this guys hate for a car that is not even out yet, has made very one prove him wrong with support and love of the plan to give people a high gas mileage low price car. He must feel like an asshole right. I bet he is already on the waiting list for one now. haha I know I’m going to be. ;)

  • 32yellowtub

    It is obvious to me, whoever wrote the article doesn’t know anything about three wheelers. Two wheels in front, front wheel drive is the right way to build a three wheeler. the torsional stability (torsional resistance) you get with two wheels in front is almost like driving a four wheeled car, with the exeception the roll point is the center of the rear wheel. you would more than likely spin the car than roll it due to that fact. There has been several books written on the engineering of three wheeled cars. As far as licensing the drivers, in California a three wheeled motorcycle can be operated by anyone. A side car is different.

  • aryes

    Here in Nevada it is classified as a car as it has 2 of the wheels as drive wheels. Any 3 wheeler in Nevada doesn’t require a helmet. Author of this article has done little homework. Under Fed law it may be considered a motorcycle which would only require it to have a 1 year warranty instead of the 3 year which would bring the price way down. Being made in America there will be no import duty tax, bringing the price down in comparison to all the foreign motorcycles.

  • 47Driver

    I’ll stick with my 210 HP 300+ FT LB VW Jetta Sport Wagen TDI. I get 35 MPG at 130MPH, 45MPG at 85MPH, and 52MPG at 65MPH. All road tested, not on the computer display. I can fit my whole family in it, my dog, and luggage. Yes, I upgraded the ECU, and I’ll keep it forever.

    I’d be afraid to run into a traffic cone with the Elio, let alone another car!

    • Pedro Suarez

      U are driving a toaster.

  • Mickey

    They’ll sell like crazy if they actually build them and they’re halfway decent quality. Motorcycle riders will buy them to drive when it rains. Kids will buy them in droves.

    The helmet laws will be quickly amended to exclude enclosed vehicles…..assuming they’re not written that way already. That’s a non-issue.

  • Mickey

    There is almost no cost OR hassle in getting a motorcycle license. And I insure my BMW K1200LT, a $25,000 motorcycle, for about $200 per year. Per YEAR. Full coverage.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Folks, it’s quite unlikely that Jo is seeing any of the constructive criticism you’re sending his way. I would imagine he’s turned off this feed long ago.

    But if you would like to get your message to him you might want to visit his site and the Elio article there.

    I’m sure he’d be glad to hear from you….;o)

    http://gas2.org/author/joborras/page/8/

  • nerys

    Man its been a long time since I read such a truly horrible clueless article. did you even do any research?

    let me go over the delusions present in this article.

    #1 it being a technical motorcycle is its biggest BONUS not a hindrance. its a primary reason they can sell it for $6800 and its a primary reason they can even BUILD IT (the vast majority of those regulations are not to keep you safer (though some in fact do) but to keep the “surf” out of their territory is seriously selling cars)

    it being technically a motorcycle IS THE WHOLE STINKING POINT its what makes it SO viable SO alluring SO cheap.

    Second motorcycle means CHEAP INSURANCE $75 to $100 a year. what are you paying for your car sheep?

    third. MOST states do not require M rating for vehicles like this and MOST states do not require helmets for cars like this (the cabin COUNTS as a helmet in most cases) and in those states not accounted for they are working to change those laws (now many)

    it won’t effect your insurance except to LOWER IT. in fact one of my primary fears is the insurance lobbyists will ruin it for us and get the law changes to let them charge CAR RATES for these things (that would suck)

    next crank forward (two wheels up front) IS the correct way to do it. every tip over a tricycle? duh.

    it will easily get 84mpg driven properly. heck I already get 65mpg in my geo metro (1700 pounds 4 wheels much larger) in fact I am surprised it ONLY gets 84mpg. I expect once “I” get my hands on one it won’t take long to surpass 100mpg.

    IF they manage to get these things built their biggest problem is going to be making ENOUGH of this.

    this here family already wants 4 of them. on the spot as soon as possible. you can’t ask for anything better for a daily grind commuter car. comfortable small efficient with AC and no motorcycle hassles but all the motorcycle goodies (low insurance good gas cheap cost etc..)

    its a win win all around. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. IE big auto to try and squish them via a hostile regulatory environment.

    and design esthetic? I can deal with that simply enough.

    these cars look FREAKING HOT. if elio says kill someone and you can have this car I might actually think about it for a fraction of a second.

    $6800 car single over head cam (simple cheap to maintain) I REALLY wish it was based on the G10 (would make maintenance silly cheap and easy)

    SIGN ME UP. I want 4. and I know my sister and her boyfriend wilL EACH get one. its so cheap anyone can afford it especially if their “gas card” payment idea pans out. (genius)

  • rogwild

    “Clean Technica” please vet your authors better: Jo Borras’s ‘article’ is so full of inaccurate statements, personal bias, and supposition, that it ‘reeks’ of BS. NOT the quality of article, I would expect here!

  • Brett Evans

    Built backwards, eh? The Morgan 3-Wheeler disproves that, as does how much the Reliant Robin sucks. The DeltaWing isn’t even a trike. This guy’s credibility is completely shot.

  • Sherri wharton

    Hey buddy, you pay my gas bill and we can talk. You are crazy to think that I wouldn’t do all the negative things you listed to save 500 dollars a month. It’s worth a little prep work. In this day and age the big cars are out especially or short distances. Sorry you are dead wrong.

  • notrupert

    The 1937 Morgan Super Sports conclusively proved 2 wheels in front is correct, by outrunning many larger, more expensive, sports cars of the day.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Morgan_Super_Sports_1937.jpg

  • michael johnson

    Yes this has a high chance of failing. However a simple Google search would find that there are exceptions to the helmet laws for trikes in various states. Also the fact that some states don’t require a motorcycle license for three wheelers. shame on the author for not pointing out these exceptions.
    I for one am very hopeful that this unit at least makes it to production. Really, so many Americans could use a highly efficient vehicle that is affordable.

  • jupiter2

    I don’t know Jo Borras but I for one hope it doesn’t fail and would in fact buy one. I need an inexpensive simple commuter “car” that is good on gas. Period. I have a mini van for the kids and an old pickup truck for hauling my toys. I NEED a daily driver to get to work that won’t kill me in gas. I would love to drive a motorcycle but I’m nervous on two wheels and living in Michigan I only have about 5 months on a bike. Plus I prefer an enclose vehicle. I will give it a serious look when they come out.

  • BillMilligan

    Georgia, one of the most backward states in the union when it comes to most things, will not require a special license or helmet to drive this car. I checked. The motorcycle law explicitly excludes fully enclosed vehicles. From what I checked most states are similar.

    I am one of the people who has quite enthusiastically plunked down actual dollars to reserve one of these. I’m spending $150 on my weekly commute with my existing car. If Elio’s estimates on mileage are off by as much as 40% I will still be more than doubling my existing mileage, and this car will pay for itself at warp speed.

    When I first started driving I used to love taking long drives to anywhere on weekends. I did this less and less as gas rose over a dollar, two dollars, three, and now as it threatens four my days of recreational long distance ground exploring would be over — except for what Elio is promising to deliver. I love the idea that from Atlanta I could hit Miami or St. Louis on a single 8-gallon tank. Last week I made a business trip to Raleigh from Atlanta and that short trip alone takes about 20-25 gallons. What a difference!

    This vehicle is not being marketed as a motorcycle. I can imagine that a lot of motorcycle enthusiasts will turn their noses up at this. That doesn’t matter to me, I don’t like motorcycles, but I’ll tell you what — for all the beneftis I’d be getting out of adding this car to my driveway, I’d be willing to wear a helmet if that’s what it took. I can’t wait until this car will be ready!

    So, the author of this piece can pooh-pooh all he likes, whatever, he doesn’t have to buy one. But there *is* a market for this car and I am living proof.

    • Kyle Lockhart

      I ride a Harley, and I for one am buying an Elio. It isn’t the same. I’ll feel safer taking my daughter to school in the Elio, It’ll be a lot warmer on winter mornings, and the best MPG I get on the bike is 55. When I want the wind in my face and the freedom of the bike, I’ll ride. Otherwise, the Elio will be the perfect car for my needs.

  • da na

    This author shows his ignorance in so many places. Most state laws that have motorcycle helmet laws define a motorcycle as a 2 wheeled vehicle. Yes by making it 3 wheels they thread a hole the Fed’s don’t consider it a car for regulations, but states don’t consider it a motorcycle for licensing, or helmets.

    Then he continues to show his ignorance by comparing it to a 4 wheel rear drive delta wing. Uhm how about comparing it to the successful Can Am Spyder three wheel layout 2 in front one in back

    Oh well in these internet days of getting clicks, junk articles like this are often written just to get people to link them or get more clicks.

  • Ryan Bennett

    To the author of this article

    How dare you. regardless of what this vehicle is classified as by the DOT or each state, Paul Elio is willing to take a risk and try to build a better vehicle. Also in doing so he is putting Americans back to work. The release of this article is a disgrace. The last time press like this was released was in the age of the Tucker Motor Company, the Press killed his company with the help of the big 3, I have to wonder which of the big 3 if not all you are collecting payroll from to release an article like this. Where are your articles trashing foreign companies importing scooters and motorcycles, have you seen what some companies are building, they look like Smart cars but they are junk Chinese imports.

  • Riyaz

    I was expecting the author has some serious business points to talk about. He is not proving anything with his points. The only claim he is has around helmet. At best he is making fun of himself. Helio might fail or succeed – but this article has nothing to do with thay

  • DemandSider

    The government of Lower Saxony in Germany owns a controlling stake in Volkswagen because it is difficult to maintain much profit selling predominantly economy cars in a company’s DOMESTIC market. Also, neither Japan nor South Korea makes much profit at home. Whether this car survives or fails is really up to our government, but, since we like to maintain more of an illusion of “free market” in the U.S, it will probably be allowed to fail, as current brands have a lot of political clout.

  • Guest1

    I guess the author got what he wanted, a Jerry Springer article. Every one of his points are incorrect: You cannot get top rate suppliers like they have without tons of hard work, good plans, and connections into each supplier. The Firestone example is simply ridiculous. These suppliers are very cautious because of the companies that have folded and left them hanging with costs and are running with smaller staffs than ever, making their time hard to get. These guys seem to have made some real inroads. Secondly, (and seeming the 3rd point as well?) helmets are an issue in maybe 7 or 8 states, and they have just gotten a bill passed in Louisiana (no helmet or Motorcycle license) recently. After sitting in one last week I can’t imagine any state making either a helmet or special license mandatory in this motorcycle. They do call it a motorcycle too BTW. Not sure about the insurance once they come out but my motorcycle insurance is way less than my car today. I appreciate you looking out for people, but at least get one thing right…

  • Haywood

    If I wear a Helmet, that means I DON’T HAVE TO WEAR THE SEAT BELT.

  • SamSkwirl

    FUCK ALL YOU CUNTS

  • gram56

    Funnily enough the law in the UK allowed people with motorcycle licences to drive 3 wheeler cars . A vehicle know as a the Reliant for many years enjoyed success.
    The Elio is a better design with two wheels up front for stability. .. No tipping…I think the Niche market will at least exceed that of the smart car…

  • JaySens

    Helmets protect your head from hitting the ground when you fall off a motorcycle. There really is no “falling off” an Elio so it shouldn’t be *too* hard to convince legislators to amend their state’s statutes to reflect simple common sense. Especially when constituents are always looking to bring down their gas costs and many are thinking about the impact of fossil fuels on the planet.

    Not to mention, you underestimate how badass people look in helmets anyway.

    I’m putting in my pre-order this month. Somewhere between 1-2k people already have, and we’re still over a year away from production.

  • SamSkwirl

    That’s fine, Ill wear the helmet. But I DONT HAVE TO WEAR A SEAT BELT ON A MOTORCYCLE!!!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Please don’t shout at us -

      • SamSkwirl

        wipe the sand out of your vagina

  • mark

    This guy is a big POO-POOer on progress ain’t he…Good grief. It is my personal prediction that Elio Motors will NOT fail…that in fact, they will be a HUGE success. I’ve already put down some money for one of their “cars”. The oil/gas companies can then KISS MY ASS.

    • http://blazestudios.biz/ Sacramento Ecommerce Solutions

      Preach on.

  • torr10

    sounds like Jo Borras is upset because he’s stuck writing for a third rate website while the guy at Elio is making his dream come true. Maybe it’s a new shade of green….

  • K. Stacy

    I’m a 40yr old, 6ft 240lbs, retired Navy redneck from Mississippi (and now again living in MS) that wants nothing more than a 4 wheel drive, crew cab, turbo-diesel Ram 2500. That said… when I first heard about these little cars a couple months ago I laughed at the thought of these little green peace hippy freak cars. But then the more I looked into them and the more I thought about my current daily 60 mile commute in my Yukon XL…. the more I liked the idea of these little cars. You can bet I’ll soon be putting a deposit down on one.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I imagine you’ve figured out the fuel savings moving from your present ride to an Elio for your commute. It would be interesting to hear how much money you’d save a year. (It’s probably better to assume something more like 75 mpg for commuting.)

      • K. Stacy

        Yes, my weekly gas bill would go from $90 to $12. The car would pay for itself in just under 2yrs. To save that kind of money, I’ll gladly deal with all of the weird looks from all these rural folk.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Paint it the colors of the highest regarded football team in the area. Fly one of their flags.

          (Where I grew up it would be Volunteer orange.)

          And maybe add “My gas bill used to be $360 and now it’s $48″.

          That’s some significant savings….

        • Wendy Wagner

          HEY! I’m rural and I want one to!

    • Guest

      I’m thinking the same thing. I get a little nervous about safety due to the size (even with airbags, you get plowed into by a Yukon you won’t be walking away), but still, my current Dodge Caliber isn’t all that big. And I only get high 20s low 30s mpg, and the Caliber is probably as slow or slower than this Elio. For my 30 minute commute, I’m thinking one of these things actually might not be a bad idea. Of course, my Caliber has a lifetime powertrain warranty and is only five years old, so it might not be quite time to switch, but maybe in a few years something like this will make sense.

    • pateriot

      Even being a risky adventure and me not being wealthy, I am putting my $1000 down to be one of the first to get one of these cars/motorcycles. Those who do not, will have to wait in line for years for delivery (if they actually succeed in making them).

  • savy12LI

    Savy12LI

    I’m a senior riding a Auto Moto trike for 1 yr now and love riding it. Great as a commuter and local rides, its different, gets attention, gets 70-75 mpg,and it tilts!

    I will be putting a deposit on the Elio when they bring the prototype to my area on Long Island,NY. We need more innovation in smaller, more efficient, more affordable cars… and it’s not coming from the big auto guys.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brad.ross.3701 Brad Ross

    Totally disagree with the author. I will be in line.

  • plunger

    i think the last time you had a movement you flushed your brains.

  • J.Griffin

    If they get anywhere CLOSE to 84mpg@$6,800 you would be surprised what people will put up with-
    ESPECIALLY in CA where
    (as others commenters have already noted)
    helmets are not required in such vehicles by law.

    IMPORTANT:
    Motorcycles in CA can ride in the commuter lane-
    EVERY Californian on the road
    can tell you how wonderful
    that is!

    This article easily passes for pro-Detroit “anti-Tucker” style propaganda…

  • drivin98

    “… and the fact that (sort-of) three-wheelers like the DeltaWing have effectively proven that the Elio is built backwards.”

    Wrong. Actually, the Reliant Robin effectively proves the Elio has done the three-wheel configuration correctly.

    • http://www.facebook.com/craig.parmerlee Craig Parmerlee

      Right. It is all about geometry and center of mass. Either configuration can be every bit as stable (or more so) than the average 4-wheeler. I have a Honda Gold Wing trike. The Gold Wing already has a very low center of gravity due to its low-mounted horizontal-opposed engine. Then on this trike conversion, the rear wheels are really wide apart. Short of driving it into a ditch, or being rammed by another vehicle, there is no way this vehicle is leaving its feet. The amount of force I would have to apply to the handlebars to force it into a roll would snap off my arms long before the vehicle would roll. And even if my arms were strong enough to do that, I would be thrown from the vehicle due to G forces before the vehicle would roll.
      Having said that, I think a rear drive to 2 rear wheels is a smarter design for several reasons. 1) The cost would be less by limiting the steering to one wheel that doesn’t have any drive components, and 2) you can move the storage to the front, and that allows more opportunity for a safer crush zone. But either design could work. The proof will be in the pudding.

  • http://twitter.com/JoshMcNattin Josh McNattin

    I’ve been following the Elio for about two months now. I’ve shared about it on some discussion boards I’m on and I’ve heard many people scoff and poo-poo the idea, but on the other side there are just as many people who are thrilled with the idea. $6800 isn’t a lot of money to come up with and I’ve met very excited prospective buyers. Also, I’ve met some of their execs, engineers and marketing people, they aren’t idiots. They’ve raised enough money to build a very solid prototype (I saw and fondled it in St Louis three days ago), which of course isn’t cheap, they’ve also secured a factory space. I believe the helmet laws can be adapted to a vehicle that’s built like a Smart Car and that has front and side airbags. Oh and the difference between riding a motorcycle without a helmet and riding in an Elio without a helmet? The Elio has windows that can be tinted. ;)

    • Bob_Wallace

      I would imagine they’ve penciled out an electric version. Have they said anything publicly?

      I can imagine battery options good for 20, 40 or 60 miles. A 20 mile range cheap EV would be a great choice for many people who have limited distance commutes. Great second car for scooting to the grocery store when one realizes they forgot the sour cream for the borscht.

      • pateriot

        Why do you want to screw up a perfectly good vehicle with battery powered nit-witery. Did you read the article? 84 miles per gallon, 1500 pounds, $6800 price tag, New York to Detroit on a tank of gas, and no expensive battery to replace every two years.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You aren’t going to make wise decisions if you start with faulty information.

          EV batteries certainly last far longer than two years. The Tesla Roadster batteries are holding up well at 100,000 miles.

          84 miles on $4/gallon gas = 5 cents per mile. Add in for engine maintenance, oil changes and more frequent brake rebuilds.

          If these things are getting 84 mile/gallon then they would probably use about 0.15 kWh/mile. At 11 cents/kWh that’s less than 2 cents per mile.

          • Jim Bob

            …and then the vehicle weighs twice as much and you totally defeat the purpose…

        • mself61

          maybe hybrid ? for even better mpg which probably would not be practical, but maybe Hydrogen power would be awesome, but they need to walk first. we need to get past the big boy US auto makers and Honda and Toyota, make Elio our American dream to get America back where we belong, In our own Country ! they can smash my Honda that just recently got stolen by some Asian dude, what I read are the part on an Elio are mostly readily available parts that already are in the market. so if we stick with a “commuter car” that has affordable replacement parts it makes it cheaper for consumers and Insurance to replace.

  • http://twitter.com/IanBruce Ian Bruce 伊恩·布鲁斯

    California doesn’t require wearing a helmet in an enclosed 3-wheeler with seat belts. I know this because I had the law amended myself.

    • admired

      you the man!

    • torr10

      Since when does Ca have any kind of helmet law? I rode without a helmet when I lived there….

      • Bob_Wallace

        V C Section 27803 Safety Helmets Required

        Safety Helmets: Required

        27803. (a) A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet meeting requirements established pursuant to Section 27802 when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.

        (b) It is unlawful to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).

        (c) It is unlawful to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).

        (d) This section applies to persons who are riding on motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycles operated on the highways.

        (e) For the purposes of this section, “wear a safety helmet” or “wearing a safety helmet” means having a safety helmet meeting the requirements of Section 27802 on the person’s head that is fastened with the helmet straps and that is of a size that fits the wearing person’s head securely without excessive lateral or vertical movement.

        (f) This section does not apply to a person operating, or riding as a passenger in, a fully enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicle that is not less than seven feet in length and not less than four feet in width, and has an unladen weight of 900 pounds or more, if the vehicle meets or exceeds all of the requirements of this code, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and the rules and regulations adopted by the United States Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

        (g) In enacting this section, it is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all persons are provided with an additional safety benefit while operating or riding a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.

        Amended Ch. 32, Stats. 1991. Effective January 1, 1992.
        Amended Sec. 4, Ch. 710, Stats. 1997. Effective January 1, 1998.

        • torr10

          All I asked was when….guess they punked out on being free.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Free to make taxpayers responsible for hospital and long term/lifetime care after you smash your pumpkin?

          • torr10

            actually you have hit on a stupid point. Why not require bungee jumpers to pad themselves with packing bubbles? Like it or not, you’re already responsible it, I’m a vet and your president forced his healthcare on us…so yes…Free to make the choice. Perhaps you should wear a helmet next time you cross the street since more head injuries occur from that than riding without a helmet. Or perhaps you should check the facts and figures from states that don’t have those laws before you try to sound smug and end up sounding stupid.

    • Gary

      I agree, Ian…. I just checked, and you dont need a motorcycle license for it either…. a class “C” license works…and I dont think that it would be classified as a motorcycle anyway… its a front wheel drive car, that happens to have only 1 wheel in the back. it has all the standard safety features as a regular car, so to say you need a helmet for the thing is not right. How much are ya getting paid to “poo-poo” this idea, Jo?

      • Jo Borras

        LOL! I wish I was getting paid. Still, if the only think that made people look stupid behind the wheel of a 3-wheeler was the helmet we’d all be driving Reliant Robins or (at least!) Corbin Sparrows.

        This thing is going to tank, just like all the others before it, and for the same reasons: it’s ridiculous.

        • Lee B

          Reliant Robin-very unstable

          Corbin SParrow=Expensive

          That is what is wrong with those.

  • Harold

    I’d like to have one, just for going to work and back. Hope to see them hit the market, later this Summer.

    • grunt

      correction: later next summer (but you can reserve one). Elio production doesn’t start till June 2014

  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.currier.9 Rick Currier

    I certainly hope it lives up to promises and meets with good reception. I think its far past time that Detroit offered ultra high milage vehicles. I recall my Tercel of 1990′s vintage 40mpg whereas today car makers thump their chest in commercials when they get over 30 touting “advanced technology”. The Tercel was unadorned, but inexpensive to buy and own… We need more of that.
    Elio style? hell, I like its looks.

    • Bob_Wallace

      We could go back to those lighter weight designs of the 1990s and earlier if we were willing to give up safety features.

      • luke

        And other ‘gadgets’ – who cares if I wind my own windows, push my own seat forward and back, change gears for myself, close my own tailgate etc. etc.

        Much of the weight in modern cars is not only from added safety.

        • Bob_Wallace

          After close to 50 years of car ownership I finally got my first car with power windows.

          I’m not sure I’d give them up.

          And give up power mirrors? No way.

          Actually, I suspect neither add much, if any, weight. It’s the side impact beam, crumple zones, stronger A and B pillars, bumpers, ….

          • nerys

            power mirrors power windows power locks AC and heat ALL PRESENT in a $6800 elio.

            heck yeah. bring it on. I want …… hmm can’t decide between the bright blue and the bright orange. I WANT BOTH.

          • Dave McCall

            You can probably afford both!

          • http://blazestudios.biz/ Sacramento Ecommerce Solutions

            Get both and switch days.

          • Katnapper

            I live in Boise. An orange and blue Elio would make me look like the ultimate BSU fanboy. Would be ironic since my Alma mater was AMEDD Center and Schools Academy of Health Sciences US Army.

        • Katnapper

          Adding power options and air-conditioning in an EV seamed counter productive. Whether you’re trying to make a green statement or trying to eek out as much range as possible out of that battery, couldn’t your green beliefs/money pinching allow you to sacrifice some creature comforts? SMH… such a first world problem. Americans have become such premadona, winey snobs.

      • face214

        You are such a hater! Grow up, wake up, and get out of people’s business. Why do you feel you need to watch out for others? Who are you? What moral high ground do you stand on?

    • DemandSider

      The Saturn S series sedans and coupes are still pretty common on Minnesota, while most Asian cars of their vintage have long gone. I disagree with your choice of car, but I agree with your basic point about the need for simple, cheap, easy to maintain cars. BTW, I average 33 mpg, but I had a 5spd SL that got 40.

      • Doug Dever

        I got 55mpg hwy in my ’88 crx hf. Wish I could find one!

        • MontanaDriver

          I had an ’85 crx hf and averaged 58mpg and hit as high as 64mpg. Had it for 230000. Still wish I did. I’m interested in on of these.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I doubt Honda could get that car past 2013 safety standards.

            Lots of older cars that got high mileage did so by being lighter. Less crash protection. No air bags.

          • jon

            I had a 1990 Geo Metro 2 door hatchback and manual transmission. Mine averaged 54 mpg over the 160,0000 miles I drove it. Super easy to change oil and filter, and to do a tuneup. Plenty of room to work on that 3 cylinder engine. The only problem I ever had was the muffler rusted through at about 120,000 miles. At 160,000 it was still on the original clutch AND the original front disk brakes. I had even bought a set of brake pads thinking it would need them, but it never did. Best car I ever owned. GMC took over Geo, and later dropped the line. In 1990 they were right about $7000.

      • Wendy Wagner

        Love my Saturn. But nothing last forever.

  • arne-nl

    Although I agree with the author that this car it is not a very compelling offering, I don’t think it is built backwards. I have been involved in recumbent bicycles and velomobiles for nearly a quarter century, and nearly all three-wheelers are built like this: two front wheels, one rear wheel. What I remember is that all vehicles with 2 rear 1 front wheel layout tended to be unstable.

    Another area where many threewheelers are used is solar racing. Nearly all cars have the same layout: 1 rear, 2 front wheels. For solar race cars, this is aerodynamically suboptimal, the reason for choosing this configuration is stability. (For the World Solar Challenge in Australia coming October, four wheels are mandatory)

    • Bob_Wallace

      “What I remember is that all vehicles with 2 rear 1 front wheel layout tended to be unstable.”

      Something that I also remember from my tricycle riding experience during the first half of the previous century….

      • elio-excited

        and where do you think the center of gravity was with you on a tricycle? ….compare that with the elio now…surprised now?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Obviously it was in the wrong place when the single front wheel was turned abruptly at speed.

          The Elio avoids this problem. Even if your were to strap a road kill deer on the front to take home for a BBQ.

      • Katnapper

        3 wheeler ATV’s that had one wheel in front, two in back were prohibited to manufacture in the United States since the late 19 80′s because of safety concerns.

  • elkar

    Despite helmets are required for motorcycles in my country too, this (http://www.scooter-infos.com/image_cache/642×426/3ebf7784832393df62d0e0402bfe879c/01-BMW-C1-125-action-1.jpg) is authorized. Even in your country, laws can’t be so rigid not to be reasonable and adaptable to reality.

    A poor communication campaign for a small company, what did you expect ? Not all companies can afford high grade communication.

    Not being able to become a market leader does not mean you will fail. You are very severe. Let them do. Even in a niche, it could be profitable.

  • rkt9

    If they do everything they claim on their website, and the price is what they say it will be, I will be looking to buy one.

  • Geoff Kim

    Not true in California:

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d12/vc27803.htm

    “This section [Helmets Required] does not apply to a person operating, or riding as a passenger in, a fully enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicle that is not
    less than seven feet in length and not less than four feet in width, and has an unladen weight of 900 pounds or more,…”

    • Charles Vise

      Well, California suks anyway.

      • http://blazestudios.biz/ Sacramento Ecommerce Solutions

        Why because we don’t have to wear a helmet in an Elio? Most of their sales will be in CA and NY anyway. The Muricans in the middle will want to keep their trucks.

  • nevadabill

    Tandem, enclosed against the weather, 5 speed, 70+ mpg on the highway.. I believe there are plenty “out there” ready to disagree with you about the Elio. Many will consider it as a welcome 2d car economical alternative pure fun machine. Then again, it doesn’t really matter what either of us believe, the true test will come in 2014 if production is achieved.

    • SamSkwirl

      Um, it has 1 door

      • nerys

        he meant two SEATER I believe

        • Jaxx

          He means second car.

    • Joe

      I would buy one today. I commute 124 miles every day in Kentucky and the roads I commute on are a motocyclist’s paradise. I just bought a Scion FRS for the commute last month and I would STILL buy one of these TODAY if I could get one.

      I could even drop by Sam’s club on my way home and pick up pretty much everything we would need except furniture and maybe a gas power washer…

  • Paul Kuehnel

    When you look at declining income, retirement, the cost of good used cars…at some point a niche opens up. We are the new India and China.

    • http://www.facebook.com/craig.parmerlee Craig Parmerlee

      I completely agree. There are a lot of aging motorcycle riders who would be interested. The real issues that will get them are a) gas power in a world moving towards EV and b) the overall economics. I don’t believe the $6800 price for a minute. But if they can deliver a high-quality product for somewhere in the $10K range, I think this has a very good chance. The EV thing is a different proposition. Today’s EVs are all in the $40K range or higher. I’m just not going to plunk down $40K for a car I can’t drive every day. But I would definitely spend $15K for one I could drive most days. If they could get 70 mile range for about $15K, I bet there are a bunch of people who would be very interested in this as a second car. Yes, of course the styling needs to be dressed up, but that is the easiest part of the whole process. That’s just plastic and paint.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The Nissan LEAF is $21,300 after the $7,500 federal subsidy.

        The LEAF has a 75 mile range as tested by the EPA. If one failed to pre-heat the cabin with grid power and ran the heater at full blast in very cold weather they would get a few miles less.

        If they drive conservatively and go easy with the heater/AC then range is more than 100 miles.

        • Gary

          wow…. for $28,000 you could buy 4 Elios!

        • DemandSider

          It get’s down to 40 below and colder in Minnesota, do you really think full electric is practical here?

        • pateriot

          Exactly! I would not even consider an electric car close to the price and range of today’s offerings. I am all over this vehicle!!

        • Jim Bob

          Not to mention you must then charge the thing for 5 hours in order to go anywhere….

          • Bob_Wallace

            Gosh, Bippy, you should avoid buying an EV.

            If you can’t handle plugging in at night you should stick to riding the bus.

          • Schwartz52758

            That $7500 subsidy is a tax break as far as I know, it does not come off the price of the car, have looked in to this. Look again, doubt you will find a new one under $30,000 with all the taxes and fees, more like $35,000 plus! Plus look at the resale value as soon as you drive it off the lot, drops drastically, look at KBB.com and see for yourself.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The $7,500 is a tax credit. If you pay at least $7,500 in annual income taxes you can change your withholding immediately upon purchase and use the $7,500 additional you get in your paycheck to pay down your car loan.

            At the end of the first calendar year your car loan will be $7,500 less than the purchase price. (Small change will be lost to increased interest during the pay down time. $65.76 or $10.96 per month on a six month paydown on a 4% loan.)

            Now, you may want to push and shove on that in order to claim that it does not make the car cheaper, but I suspect you’ll have trouble selling that idea to people who have the ability to reason.

            Now, can you find me a car, other than a limited edition ‘special’, that doesn’t greatly depreciate upon leaving the dealer’s lot?

            I suspect we’ll see that EVs and PHEVs hold their value better as do fuel efficient cars. Who wouldn’t be willing to pay a little extra up front in order to save significantly over the life of the vehicle? (Other than testosterone-poisoned young guys yearning for a muscle car.)

          • Schwartz52758

            You are exactly right, it is a tax break, it reduces your taxable income, that is not $7500 in your pocket. I just do not get how this will make your car loan $7500 less, maybe I am missing something, the only thing it does is reduce your taxable income by $7500, not the loan price, but if I am wrong, show me. And you are right, all cars lose their value when you drive them off the lot, so do others, these to me just seemed to lose a greater percentage of their value. I want an EV car, would be a perfect commuter car for me, I drive about 55 miles round trip, just can not justify the price right now, but hey, show me where I can get a brand new Leaf off the lot for $21,000 plus taxes, and I will strongly consider it (guessing that does not include the $3000 for the electrical hookup in your home either, right?)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you understand that if you decrease your withholding by increasing your claimed dependents that your take-home increases?

            That is money in your pocket.

            The $7,500 is not a tax deduction. It does not lower your taxable income. It is a tax credit. It directly decreases taxes owed.

            If you drive 55 miles per day then you can recharge a LEAF using a standard 120vac outlet in 11 hours. Most people are home 11 hours a day.

            If you aren’t then you could install a simple 240vac outlet such as used by an electric clothes dryer for small money. That would cut your charge time to under 6 hours a day.

            Now, I don’t think you’re going to find a new 2013 Nissan LEAF for $21k off the lot. For any new car purchases their are additional costs – license, sales tax (some states), etc. And the dealer is not going to front you the $7,500 tax credit.

            I did a quick look on the web and found a site claiming to have three dealers selling for $28,766. That’s $21,766 after you pay back in the tax money you save.

            http://www.truecar.com/prices-new/nissan/leaf-pricing/

            At 55 miles per day, 20,075 per year. (Calculate down if you don’t drive on weekends.)

            Right now if you are driving a 25 MPG gasmobile you’re spending $240/month for $3.59/gallon fuel. If you’re driving a 50 MPG hybrid you’re spending half that. One option would be to lease a LEAF for $199/month, sell your present car, and put the proceeds away toward a new EV purchase.

            (Don’t forget, you’d not only be saving a bit from gas purchases, you’d also not be paying for oil changes and other maintenance.)

            Unless you’re already driving something very efficient you should save a bit each month, add it to your present car’s value, and after the lease is over have some sweet cash to purchase new. (Or a previously leased EV.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Just for fun I took a look at ‘drive it off the lot’ depreciation. Edmunds says that the typical car loses 11% of its value when it hits the street.
            The 2013 Volt is selling (with no goodies added) for $34,995. Take off the $7,500 tax credit and it’s $27,495,

            I used your Kelly Blue Book link and put in a basic 2013 Volt with 100 miles on the odometer. Your site told me that the value was $31, 726. That’s a 15% appreciation.

      • Marc

        the company seems to suggest the more you risk now, the better deal you get when in production.

        up to $1000 that is

    • joe

      Ever since I drove a Cushman three wheeler as an ice cream truck in 1973, I’ve been a huge fan of three wheelers with the pair in the FRONT. Most of the cornering weight goes to the outside FRONT tire. When you don’t have one, there can be problems.

      A three wheeler with two in front can become a serious handler with not much tech in the suspension, depending a great deal on its light weight.

  • http://profiles.google.com/felix.hoenikker9 Felix Hoenikker

    No way! The author’s points aren’t really hidden truths, rather just another random company with poor marketing trying to sell a meh niche transportation product similar to that of many past startups. Probably not even worth of an article to be honest because these are the same kind of marketing ploys any startup would use. The reason they won’t sell is because no one drives three wheeled vehicles in the US….just take a look around. We got hummers and trucks and gas yaaaa!!! Frack it!!! Merica!!!….I’m gonna move closer to my office and get a bike instead. Simpler and cheaper solution that doesn’t require “technology” if there is any in Elio. Come on people!!! You can do better than that!!!

    • torr10

      No one drives three wheelers? You’re blind as a bat. Trikes and Can Ams are all over the place, dumbass….

    • SamSkwirl

      Uh, What country are you from? Are you a Saudi??? Idiot

    • Ralph Furley

      Get a grip. If you don’t want to buy an Elio. Then don’t and shut the heck up. Go away.

  • http://profiles.google.com/felix.hoenikker9 Felix Hoenikker

    No way! The author’s points aren’t really uncovered truths, rather thats just another random company with poor marketing trying to sell a meh niche transportation product similar to that of many past startups. The reason they won’t sell is because no one drives three wheeled vehicles in the US….just take a look around. We got hummers and trucks and gas yaaaa!!! Frack it then burn it!!! ‘Merica!!!….I’m gonna move closer to my office and get a bike instead, its a simpler cheaper solution that doesn’t require “technology” if there is any in Elio.

    • SamSkwirl

      repost much?

  • http://profiles.google.com/felix.hoenikker9 Felix Hoenikker

    No way! The author’s points aren’t really uncovered truths, rather thats just another random company trying to sell a meh transportation product. The reason they won’t sell is because no one drives three wheeled vehicles in the US….just take a look around. We got hummers and trucks and gas yaaaa!!! ‘Merica!!!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, no no one. I see three wheelers on the road from time to time. Three wheel touring motorcycles show up now and then.

      • http://profiles.google.com/felix.hoenikker9 Felix Hoenikker

        sure but thats a small and insignificant niche market that wouldn’t likely provide much of a return on investment. People in Paris and Beijing would still rather ride bikes.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Paris has great public transportation.

          The ‘big city’ close to me is 30,000 and has towns of ~10,000 about ten miles to the north and south of it. I can see something like this being very popular as a commuter vehicle for that area. Public transportation is limited, the buses are good but they don’t come very frequently. We have a lot of crummy weather in the winter.

          A new, safe vehicle for $7k that gets 80 MPG and can travel at highway speeds between the big and little cities. I can see people buying one.

          There are a lot of modest sized cities in the US which will never have ‘big city’ public transportation systems. If these people can produce what they claim and have the ability to hang on for a few years while recognition builds ….

        • http://www.facebook.com/craig.parmerlee Craig Parmerlee

          What???? There are probably 10-50 times as many trikes on the US roads as there are all EVs, yet I don’t see people saying EVs are an insignificant niche. And have you looked at what people pay for a good trike? $35K isn’t uncommon.

          I’m not saying Elio will displace high-end Harley or Gold Wing trike sales, but clearly they will get some of that business if they build a quality product. And they will open up another market segment.

          There is nothing at all wrong with the concept. If they can do anything close to the power, efficiency, price, quality, and schedule they are promising, they will be able to sell tens of thousands of these every year, and that probably gets them to critical mass.

          The transportation market is changing. Sure, the big three plus Chrysler/Fiat will continue to be important, but Tesla has proven it is possible to break through into this marketplace for the first time in about 40 years (not counting Delorean).

          I think Elio is choosing exactly the right target. It makes no sense for them to try to build a better Camry or a better Tesla. It is much smarter to go after a segment that doesn’t have a big gorilla established yet.

          • Floridon

            They will most assuredly get my business. I am going to sign up this week, at the $1,500 level, to get the $500 discount. This will be a PERFECT commuter vehicle for me.

      • http://profiles.google.com/felix.hoenikker9 Felix Hoenikker

        True, but a small and insignificant niche market don’t you think? If I remember correctly there was a way cooler 3-wheeled vehicle startup (http://www.flytheroad.com/) from your neck o’ the woods that hasn’t seemed to surface commercially. Just a reference point =)

        http://www.flytheroad.com/

        • Geoff Kim

          Yeah I remember those before they remade themselves as Persu, they were originally going to resell the Carver. Cool vehicles, but they were also $50K.

        • rogwild

          Yes, and the Venture/Persu people were all ‘HYPE’; they backed out of the X-Prize competition, and never were able to produce even a ‘Running Prototype!…. still have a website…. but NO vehicle!

        • Floridon

          The Persu is slated to cost $25K. That does indeed make it a niche market. As cool as it is, I can’t afford one.
          At $6,800, that’s accessible to a major market share. At that price, I can afford one of these – and I will buy one, when they are available.

    • DLW

      There is at least three companies who convert two wheeled motorcycles to three wheels at a cost way more than $6800. There is also two motorcycles with two front wheels that can cost over $30k without ac, top ,pw, or pdl. If they can stay in business then I think there is a market for the Elio.

    • Roy DeSoto

      Hummers are ugly and dead dude. In addition gas mileage sacked and they are one of the ugliest vehicles around. Cash for clunkers Wil take them for scrap.

  • http://bhtooefr.org/ Eric Rucker

    While I suspect Elio’s going to fail for styling and financing reasons, I don’t think the helmet thing is as big of a deal as it seems, and it’s not built backwards.

    For starters, a few states with helmet laws waive them for three-wheel motorcycles, especially ones with roofs. (Ohio, where I live, doesn’t, but Ohio only requires helmets for your motorcycle permit and the first year that you have a motorcycle license.)

    Second, there’s always lobbying – it worked for some of the companies importing Chinese three-wheelers.

    Also, as far as it being built backwards… delta vehicles can work, but require a very different chassis design, and have certain advantages and disadvantages that tadpoles don’t (and vice versa). The DeltaWing is a very long vehicle, with the driver as far back in the chassis as possible, against the engine (which is also in the back), and very clever (read: expensive) chassis and suspension design. It has very poor packaging for a street car, though, and tadpole layouts can offer better aerodynamics when the DeltaWing’s specific set of aerodynamic requirements aren’t needed – basically, a delta ends up having its widest and tallest parts near the rear, which is suboptimal for aerodynamics.

    Also, tadpoles, especially front-engine FWD ones like this, tend to have better stability than deltas (the DeltaWing aside – its packaging and chassis/suspension design eliminating those concerns).

    • jquigly

      I don’t know if you have seen one in person, but I have. People standing around, male and female, liked how it looked. To each his own, but here’s my point, this design is a rare thing. It is a completely rational design. The front opening looks like a Formula One car, because that is the most rational way to get air into the engine compartment. So if you’re like me and you think the old square Volvo’s look better than the kitschy-curvy late models, it would appeal to your taste.

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