Cars

Published on December 15th, 2014 | by James Ayre

45

Elio Motors: Another Solution For Greener Transport

December 15th, 2014 by  

Gas prices are falling. As of this writing, the average price of gas in the United States is below $3 per gallon. That’s likely good news for most people’s bank accounts. But, what might it mean for the environment? After all, when fuel price goes down, SUV, pickup truck, and minivan sales go up.

Consider some of the sales gains for several large vehicles in October:

  • Lincoln Navigator sales were up by 38%
  • GMC Sierra sales jumped 12.5%
  • Ram pickup sales were up 33%.

Meanwhile, the Ford C-Max Hybrid saw sales fall by 22.5%, while the Toyota Prius fell by 13.5% in October. Clearly, these are stats that should be troubling to the clean vehicle movement.

But one American entrepreneur has devised a vehicle that is affordable enough to allow people to keep their large vehicles for utility and recreational purposes but still maintain their environmental consciousness via much more efficient commuting. Paul Elio, founder and CEO of Elio Motors*, is launching a vehicle for $6,800 that will get up to 84 MPG. He calls it an “And” vehicle.

Elio Motors 3“We think people can keep their SUV, minivan or pickup truck, AND buy an Elio for solo commuting,” Elio said. “Large vehicles have a place – taking the family up to the lake on the weekend, driving the kids to hockey practice, or picking up supplies for home improvement projects on the weekend are all valid reasons. But, what happens during the week when you drive twenty miles to work. It makes no sense to do that in a gas-guzzling vehicle with six or seven empty seats.”

Elio is right. When it comes to commuting to work, the US Census Bureau says that 76.3% of people travel alone. Why not do so in a vehicle designed for solo commutes?

The American-made, three-wheeled Elio, which is slated to hit the market in 2015, is half the width of a traditional passenger vehicle and features unique front-to-back, two-person seating. The interior has a cockpit-like feel, almost like travelling in a small airplane. The benefits of the design are pretty simple. Half the mass moves half the air. It’s wind-drag that causes the biggest loss of fuel efficiency. By cutting down wind-drag, Elio Motors is making big strides in improving fuel efficiency.

Elio picThe potential savings are pretty impressive. Consider a suburban commuter who lives 20 miles from their office. That’s 40 miles a day, round trip, 200 miles per week, and 10,000 miles per year. At $3 per gallon, commuting in an Elio would cost $537 annually. Commuting in a vehicle that gets 25 MPG would cost $1,200 annually. At $4 annually, those costs go to $716 for the Elio and $1,600 for the average vehicle… not to mention a vehicle with lower-than-average fuel economy.

The environmental benefits are there, too. Consider that one Elio will be more environmentally friendly than a cow. Here’s the math:

One cow produces about 110 kg or 242 pounds of methane a year through burps and flatulence. Methane is 20 times more effective at trapping heat than CO2 over a 100-year period. The cow’s 242 pounds of methane, multiplied by 20, equals 4,840 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases. An Elio driven 20,000 miles will only produce 4,500 pounds of CO2… making an Elio more environmentally friendly than a cow.

The vehicle also has the potential to reduce dependence on foreign oil. When Elio Motors hits its sales targets, it is expected to reduce total oil consumption in the United States by 0.35%.

Paul Elio remains a big fan of efforts to build mass market hybrid and electric vehicles. But he’s also a realist and knows one size or one product does not fit all. He sees the Elio vehicle as a good supplement that many consumers will prefer.

Considering that the Elio is one-fifth the price of the leading hybrid, the company seems to be on the right path. Apparently, consumers agree. More than 37,000 people have reserved a spot in line to purchase an Elio when they roll off the assembly line.

 


GAS_2_DISPLAY_AD
*This article was sponsored by Elio Motors.

 


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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • conrad.clement

    “half the width of a traditional passenger vehicle”?… i.e. a railway coach?

  • Guest

    With Elios still working on hype, I am seeing the Elios to be a scam with no intention of realeasing the car. They say they will, they have lots of interest, they have a test vehicle. What they havent done, is make their custom engine they are supposed to do. They keep extending the non existent (now) date of release.

    Stop the hype. Start producing something. Stop dragging your feet on the possibility of the potential “we will” and make it the “we have”.

    I have seen too many companies create similar hype about how fabulous it is. This almost smells as bad as that Madoff character. Please prove me wrong and get this into production. So far the assembly line still has not made one car.

  • Doug

    Another goofy EV to make us look like idiots. It’s been two years since I test drove the Model S – and so few competitors. We need another “Tesla”, not more toys.

    • Ivan

      Look I have stock in Telsa. Elio is hitting an entirely different market. I think of the Elio as an option for people who want to be efficient but can’t afford an electric car, let alone a Tesla. People like that are stuck with poor efficiency options, like scooters, motorcycles and some ATVs. All of which can only be driven in ideal weather and are way less safe than anything that can’t tip and is enclosed.

  • Lynne Whelden

    I’ve been asking the Elio guys to bring their prototype up to the Northeast so I can actually sit in one. I have a bad back and need to know how easy it is to get in and out. If it “works” for me, I’m “all in.”
    I like outside-the-box ideas.
    I like saving money.

  • Cris Cassity

    These cars are way cool.5 star safety rating due to body panels being applied to a roll cage frame and the fact that it will move when hit instead of absorbing most of the impact due to only weighing 1200 lbs.Electric windows,air conditioning and stereo are standard equipment. You can cruise through snow!

    • Offgridman

      It does not have a “five star” safety rating due to never being tested, that is Mr Elio’s claim that it would get. However the government turned it down as not needing it because it is a motorcycle.
      As someone mentioned previously I would not care to see what happens to the driver after being driven over by a tractor trailer, airbags or no, as I have seen what happens when a regular motorcycle goes under one.
      On my most recent interstate trip there was a big SUV that had been rolled over by a big truck, the front of the SUV back to the front seats was all flattened down to about two feet high (the size of the engine block), while there was no obvious damage to the tractor trailer that did it.
      Can’t see why the same thing wouldn’t happen to an Elio, five star rating or no.

      • Cris Cassity

        Humvee,Elio,a big rig doesn’t know the difference.

      • Ivan

        It would be fine with me if it ended up just being an enclosed motorcycle. I have a motorcycle license but would much rather have a high-mpg ‘motorcycle’ that is safer and that I could drive all year in cold climates. If they pull it off it will be cheaper than most new motorcycles as well. The idea is an efficient, reduced passenger vehicle that is safer and more practical than a bike.

        I have been looking for an (affordable) version of something like that for years. Nothing (affordable) has come close and it would sure be nice if Elio pulled it off.

        • Offgridman

          Still hoping myself for them to pull it off, as you say, especially if they can stay within a grand or two of the projected price.
          I have just gotten disgusted with the extended wait, first heard about them back in 2011 when ‘production’ was supposed to start in ’12.
          Then the additional holdup with having to design their own engine instead of just contracting for an off the shelf like they have with most of the other parts, just doesn’t make sense.
          If they end up lasting okay for the first year or two purchasers might still get one, or find a used one to convert to electric. Imagine the range mounting a Leaf motor and battery in one or one of the conversion kits for a VW.
          A few or even a couple of years ago one of the Elio’s would have been perfect to get to tide me over until the practical priced EV’s became available. Now it is starting to look like they will both be coming available about the same time ( ’17). For those looking for the enclosed motorcycle the Elio will still be the preferred choice. For the family man wanting a vehicle to provide inexpensive commutes? Spend twice as much, get something with an empg even higher than the Elio, and be able to use it with the family on the weekend, without the coworkers giving the little smirks over your unusual choice of vehicle.

    • Marion Meads

      “the fact that it will move when hit instead of absorbing most of the impact due to only weighing 1200 lbs”

      It is the sudden change in motion, that will crush all your internal organs. The vehicle may bounce with minor damage, but not your body’s internals. And then there’s whiplash. With nothing to absorb the impact, you take most of the brunt.

      • Cris Cassity

        Buy a volt,then you’re ready for anything. Elio isn’t selling an alternative to a Mercedes S500.

  • Joseph Dubeau

    I think it would make a good Dominion Pizza delivery vehicle.
    It has the right color, sort of cheesy looking.
    You can run some of burping farting cows off the road.
    ” making an Elio more environmentally friendly than a cow.”

    It can fight terrorism as well as
    ” The vehicle also has the potential to reduce dependence on foreign oil.”
    It more than just a tricycle, it’s a Freedom Car.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Just needs a ‘Merican flag…

      • Joseph Dubeau

        That’s good.

  • wattleberry

    How would it perform in a crash test?

    • Offgridman

      Claims of wonderfully from the company due to the encorporated airbags and crush zones. But being a three wheeler it is a motorcycle so doesn’t have to go through the regular testing that other cars face..
      Maybe by the time it comes out Elio will allow some sort of independent testing, but so far no.

      • skeptic

        Takata Airbags

        • Offgridman

          Not sure that I understand your reference, is that the airbags that have been involved in all of the recalls lately? Are those the ones that Elio plan on using?
          If you read my full comment, there is some doubt as to the safety qualifications of the Elio since they get to avoid testing in the US, since they classify as a motorcycle.

  • djr417

    How long has it been that this covered bike has been just around the corner? all those deposits of $100-1k.. and nothing to show for it. No retail center, no staff…just more empty promises. I dont even see a target date for production! I hope it comes to fruition, but I wouldnt give this company a cent until i see actual product for sale.

  • jeff wegerson

    Something doesn’t add up. A Smart for Two is not that much (if any more) more of a vehicle and only has one more wheel. Why the nearly triple price difference then?

    • Calamity_Jean

      I see Smarts parked in my neighborhood or driving around. I’ve never seen an Elio. People are willing to pay more for real things than for “a pocket full of mumbles” (h/t Simon and Garfunkel).

    • John

      The cheapest 4 wheel car on the market is 12.7k. If you remove a wheel and a door (and obviously the reduced materials/surface-area that comes with that) you are easily looking at reducing that price by 3k (probably a bit more). So now we are at 9.7k (still a far cry from the 6.8k elio estimate). Well, the engine will be smaller. The smart for two is great for parking but is aerodynamically, possibly the stupidest vehicle in the world. it’s nearly as wide as it is long, meaning it pushes a ton of air, for almost no reason, meaning it needs a more powerful engine than an elio. Still I don’t think this gets them to 6.8k, but I suspect they are counting on some very high volume sales that they probably won’t get. However, they could sell it for 7.9k and I still think it would get the same attention.

      • jeff wegerson

        Thanks for the math. I guess as a city dweller I need parking more than I need aerodynamics for a fast commute and parking dollars more than travel dollars. Sot that’s what led me in the direction of the Smart Car as a benchmark.

      • Ivan

        I never understood how the smart cars could be so inefficient at such a small size. That explains it thanks.

      • Ed

        One problem with the price is that it was calculated 3 years ago. Simple inflation will make it hard to produce the car at that price. I am sold on the concept. I will gladly pay a little more for the vehicle. I commute 96 miles a day and can’t wait to get twice the economy as my current Civic hybrid.

        • Kent

          Except there hasn’t been any inflation in spite of 0% interest rates. Low wages are keeping prices in check. That’s a good thing, inflation hurts EVERYBODY.

    • Kent

      Elio doesn’t have the layer after layer of useless corporate overhead and profits to pay for.

  • Ivan

    An Elio is going to be $6,800 **new**. That is less than some high end scooters and certainly less than a new motorcycle.

    While it’s true that most ‘common people’ buy used and not new, it also true that they will do the same with an Elio as well.

    The average used car is just 46% of the cost of it’s new counterpart. Using the same calculus the Elio may cost just $3127 used or **~4.5 x less then the average used car**.

    While I am also hoping for an electric Elio someday they can honestly take their time as the economics of even the gas version will not be surpassed for quite a while. Assuming they get it built at that price. 🙂

    • Bob_Wallace

      Assuming they get it built at that price. 🙂

      “… perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub…” (Hamlet)

    • Offgridman

      The average used car also starts out with a drive train warranty of 100,000 miles or even more. The last I heard was that Elio was only willing to give a 30,000 mile warranty.
      With a brand new untested motor design, and their being unwilling to guarantee it staying running for a reasonable amount of miles they scared me away from making a deposit.
      If they can sell these at the proposed price point, if the early adopters can get some decent miles out of theirs, and if the service plan with Pep Boys actually works out, then I will reconsider getting a new or used one.
      The used ones probably won’t hold any value as compared to other cars though with such a limited warranty.

      • John

        No. Elio has never specified what their power-train warranty will be. They specified that their total warranty will be around 30k, which is pretty standard (median for low priced cars is 36k). In addition, most of Elio’s competition do not offer free 100K warranties, for example here are the big competitors power-train warranty level: Toyota 60k, Honda 60k, Ford 60k, Mazda 60k, Mini 50k, Nissan 60k, GM 100k, Hyundai 100k, KIA 100k. Nearly all vehicles with 100k standard power-train warranties are mid-end/luxury brands. Not the bargain brands the elio will competes with. Also some power-train warranties don’t transfer to a second owner!

        • Offgridman

          They must have changed their website then, because back when they released the photos of their amazing new block design (that looked very similar to the original 3 cylinder design from Geo that had many problems dealing with heat dispersal) they said that they would offer a 30K warranty on the drive train. But then too lots of statements on their site have changed through the years, like initial production to start for sure three years ago.
          I never said anything about power train warranties transferring to a second owner, but when buy a used car that had a good one to start with you can be more sure of that vehicle continuing to run right. Like several used vehicles that I have had running from 200-400K miles with no problems.
          So once the original purchasers (testers) prove what is possible, if they ever are made, then I will consider getting one.

    • Kent

      Elio’s are are FREE if you factor in the fuel savings.

  • GreenMonkeyPants

    Still the same “no news” from Elio.
    Production has not started.
    Delivery dates unknown.
    Empty Factory, no employees.
    http://green.autoblog.com/2014/10/18/pay-a-visit-to-elio-motors-factory-where-life-is-returning/

    3D rendered car images
    http://www.eliomotors.com/features/#colors

    The Car just doesn’t exist.
    We’ve been hearing about it for years now. It’s time to make it real, Mr. Elio.

  • Marion Meads

    A big rig won’t feel a thing when it runs over this one.
    Even at 84 mphg the Volt will beat this one on 80% of the driving commutes. Volt can effectively go more than 2,500 mpg if your daily commute is within 40 miles.

    Elio should design and sell a pure EV version that should go 100 miles on a charge and should be sold cheap.

    • Nicholaus88

      Yet the volt costs more than 5 times the price of the Elio. You would have to drive the Volt for 5 or more years in order to break even with the Elio. People can’t afford the Volt upfront like that and that is what the Elio is being made for. The common working class family.

      • Larmion

        The common working class family often has only one car. Any car/thingy that brands itself as a second vehicle by its very definition does not target the ‘common people’.

        Oh, and that one car is often a second hand vehicle that didn’t cost that much more than an Elio. And has a trunk.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Yeah, what is up with that? We have like eight in Australia. A chap bought the place next to me, he was a mine worker, and then ended up selling it because he didn’t have enough place to park all his cars.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Our numbers are probably about the same as yours.

            But we tend to count only the ones that aren’t sitting in the yard, up on blocks, with weeds growing over them.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Now I can’t actually watch the following clip in Australia because our internet just isn’t up to it. But it should give you an insight in Australian working class culture. By the way, a Camira, Torana, Commodore, and Cortina are all cars. In fact, the Torana is probably the only production model car to ever be named after a 16th century Spanish Inquisition torturer.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM-GVRvsZrA

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’d have to say that yours is more decorous than ours.

            Not a single incidence of anyone shooting themselves while cleaning their weapon in that video.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I’m sorry, my internet got up to speed and I see that clip totally left out the following exchange:

            Darryl Kerrigan: Ay Steve, can you move the Camira? I need to get the Torana out to get to the Commodore.

            Steve Kerrigan: Sure thing Dad, but I’ll have to get the keys to the Cortina if I’m gunna move that Camira.

            Darryl Kerrigan: Alright mate, just watch the boat

            I would estimate that about 15% of familial communication in Australia consists of conversations such as this.

      • Will E

        about EV pricing.
        a small gas car cost 10,000 dollars leave the engine out, brakes out muffle out, gastank out, get a battery pack in an electric induction motor cost next to nothing.
        there you have your cheap EV.
        why is EV so expensive?

    • Kent

      The ELIO is 100 times safer than my motorcycle. I’ve reserved one.

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