Parks McCants's picture

Will Elio Motors pull the production trigger in 2017?

Frankly, I find this 3-wheel transportation startup to be fascinating, as is its very viable 3-wheel personal transportation alternative. But where is it, and why aren't I driving one?

Paul Elio is an interesting fellow. He’s said to be very exacting and cautious in the evolution and eventual production of his under $10,000 transportation brainchild -- now in pre-production development since 2009, not a great year to launch an automotive startup.

I dropped in on Paul and company at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 3rd year in a row that I’d view Elio Motors in the “soon to be produced” mode. Frankly, and granted, I’m not privy to all the in and outs of producing a car in the U.S.A. to exacting E.P.A., C.A.R.B and federal safety standards, this compliant 3-wheeled wonder is long in development, or is it?

Speaking with others in attendance, the general consensus of the group of automotive journalist awaiting the breaking news forthcoming from Elio Motors on this sunny and warm Thursday morning in Los Angeles, was that with 63,000 pre-orders on the books, a world-record breaking Crowdfunding campaign, a successful preferred stock option, and now going public,(stock market) why hadn’t Elio Motors put one production car in the hands of an eager consumer. While in L.A. we checked out the all new Honda Civic Si.

As startup timelines go

Here’s the thing for me, an Elio Motors fan: 7 years in this world of 24/7 automotive news buzz, streamlined, accelerated virtual computerized product development, 3-D component manufacturing, an average mainstream brand car model development and launch time reportedly down to 3 years, 7 years is a long time!

Perhaps Paul Elio is going for perfection. That’s cool, but really, I sat inside of what I considered to be perfect, in a enclosed motorcycle-like environment. Truthfully, Elio’s concept has no competition in the auto/ motorcycle industry. Let’s get this car into production.

What Elio Motors tells us

Elio Motors (OTCQX: ELIO), the start-up vehicle manufacturer planning to launch a three-wheel vehicle that will get up to 84 mpg with a set $7,300* base price, today introduced its E1c engineering vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The E1c engineering vehicle is a significant step forward as Elio Motors progresses from the prototype to production phase. While the exterior is similar to previous Elio prototypes, the E1c engineering vehicle features foundational and structural improvements to the frame, suspension, and safety systems that will ultimately create a more satisfying driving experience.

The E1c is part of Elio Motors' E-Series vehicles, which are being built for testing and validation purposes. More than 80 percent of the E1c was assembled using soft tooling -- short-term, low-cost production tools -- to prove manufacturability and repeatability of individual parts prior to full production.

"The E1c represents our continued progress along our long-term plan to bring low-cost, highly fuel efficient transportation to the market," said Elio Motors' founder and CEO Paul Elio. "We have assembled an amazing team of engineers and supplier partners who have jumped into every aspect of this vehicle to make sure it meets or exceeds all of our targets. Their passion for creating a game-changing vehicle is one of our company's greatest strengths."

While the company has made hundreds of refinements during the vehicle engineering phase, some of the more impactful changes include the frame, suspension and safety systems with improved comfort and functionality.

The E1c features a unibody frame, which allows for better absorption of energy and greater safety tuning of the vehicle. The unibody frame was developed specifically for Elio Motors by the Elio Motors engineering team, Schwab Industries and Roush Engineering. In addition to the safety benefits, the unibody frame also will improve the production vehicle's fit and finish and will manufacturability.
The modified suspension will sharpen handling and improve aerodynamics, improve long-term vehicle durability and reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

The E1c is the first Elio Motors vehicle to feature airbags, a key component in Elio Motors' Safety Management System, with two roof-rail side-curtain airbags and a driver airbag in the steering wheel.
"The soft tooling phase is crucial to our long-term success, as we progress from hand-built prototypes to more refined vehicles built with production tooling," said Jeff Johnston, Elio Motors' Vice President of Engineering.

"The E1c features 80% production level components and systems and represents a monumental leap forward."

Elio Motors 2016

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I guess that Trump may make things even worse. The emphasis will no longer be on greening the economy, energy efficiency, that sort of thing. On top of that, I don't see the DOE issue the much-needed ATVM loan to Elio Motors. Without that loan, Paul Elio has repeatedly stated, it will be difficult to start producing.
Thank you Albert for your thought provoking comment. We'll see were it goes.
Trump has nothing to do with it, the Elio will never be produced because it costs more to make than it's being sold for, a real farce. If it's to good to be true, it's probably a lie.
If Elio has a great product/car, he doesn't needs taxpayer subsidy, i.e., gov loans? I'm thinking of the solar companies that Obama threw money at, which ultimately went bankrupt. What a waste of taxpayer money. Great products/businesses should be funded by venture capital - not the taxpayer. My guess is that venture capitalists have looked at Elio's car and the associated financial figures and said - No!
Trump in Jan. will have his DOE issue a ATVM loan to Elio Motors. Trump admires these efficient well built gas advantage vehicles. !00 will be built & sold out of Shreveport Get ready for it, I am. Got mine ordered for a 1,000 investment, do you? A old Vet Dan
Okay, if you say so. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
I, and many understand when it looks like something that has been beaten down by competing products and opportunists is going to come to fruition, the shills with made-up scales come out to force a stock down so they can buy it up for hopefully, pennies. The reality IMHO, the common man/woman away from the small but vocal urban cult, needs this vehicle and almost everyone I encounter love this concept, and have been saving their money for it, rather sinking themselves into a sub-prime used car loan for a piece of garbage.
Good point Lex. The Elio would work for most drivers.
Why would anyone buy this when they can buy a real car like the Chevy Spark for a few thousand more and have an actual car that meets safety standards. Instead of a motorcycle with tiny seats, no safety standards, no structure and no cargo space. Oh and the Spark gets UP TO 100 mpg (when coasting downhill). At least the Chevy's 41mpg is real and not some never demonstrated number pulled out of some marketing guy's a## to get press attention.
a chevy spark is not a real car
Welcome Pete. The Chevy Volt just won "Green Car of the Year." Here's the "Spark." It's real enough, although tinny and not the segment leader as to average fuel economy.http://www.chevrolet.com/spark-fuel-efficient-car.html
15,000 is a little bit more than a few thousand more. I could buy two Elio for the price of one Chevy Spark.
Well, you don't know much about the Elio when you're talking about safety. The vehicle is designed to be a class 5 in safety, which is better than most cars on the road, including your little Spark. Last week I wrote to Elio, expressing my disappointment in them not attending the Atlanta International Auto Show, after they were at the LA Auto Show and the Detroit Auto Show earlier in the year. The Atlanta International Auto Show is probably the largest auto show in the south, and they are not participating with a vehicle they hope to bring to market within a year? That speaks volumes, folks! Then, you will not believe the response I got from them! They replied today with the following: "Our tour team is getting a well-deserved rest. We have, however, passed along your input." So, they are coming out with a new vehicle and they are "resting" on the promotional side of it? I responded again that they "have to be kidding me!" I think they are totally out of money and are in big trouble. The stock today is down to $6.45 per share and they will not release a firm production start date. Every week, month, and year it's delayed drives up their costs. I hope most of you that reserved one, put down a guaranteed deposit.
Found this that might be interesting... if they'd stop writing about it, and start developing instead. new-isetta.com
I really could use one as a change of pace from my Chevy pickup...I am just a young Vet with too much time on my hands.
Welcome Frank. I'm with you. This looks like affordable fun. Take care.
The reason for people buying this car is to lower their fuel costs, car payments. My first car was a 1994 geo metro. 3 cylinder car that got very good gas mileage. it cost 10,000 dollars. With my down payment, my car payment was 142 per month. this will sell to a lot of people that don't have a lot of money. They just need to get the car in production. Make miner changes when they learn of issues that pop up. Unfortunately for Elio, because they keep putting off the production, I kept my money in the stock market and made more money on interest then what I would have saved on getting a car they said would have been in production nearly 2 years ago. I won't believe in them until they start production, then I will put a deposit down. Sorry Elio, start making cars.
I agree Paul. They'll have to pull the trigger on production this year, or lose any pre-sales momentum gained over past several years. It's cool! But, like you said, potential buyers are tiring of the extended procrastination.
Agree! PRODUCE and they(I) will come...
I agree!! I've had my money invested for almost 3 years now! I THOUGHT I was making a good investment, and am/was excited about this vehicle... but I need to start thinking of going a different route if they take forever to get this production rolling.
Let's get this in production I'm 74. Would like to have one before I'm 6ft in the ground.
I (71) heartily agree! we got all the bs we need in the government. Elio was a hope,a prayer that SOMEONE had it right, could do it RIGHT still,we have already been sucker punched, need more money? Be honest, tell us put a few finished cars on the road stop fussing over the dream baby, get real, prove it, walk the walk.....I've seen and stepped in enough bs,be courageous. come through, you would be one in a million, and if you asked there would be a way I'd like to be a part of Something right before I die, ron, val
Too good to be true? Too good for sure. Keep hoping it's true. Losing the deposit would be disappointing, but crushing the dream .........catastrophic.
I was very excited at the concept of this vehicle-- now I am almost convinced it was all a big scam- how bloody disappointing
Since this article was written, Elio announced that production will be in 2018. No idea when in 2018 though. Also, Paul himself was on TV at the end of December indicating that they were waiting for the next round of funding and then the next timeline can commence (I'm paraphrasing). Reading between the lines, they need to get the ATVM loan before they can go any further. The longer it takes to get that loan just delays the production further. Many have speculated that once they hit 65K reservations, the loan will be approved. We will have to see if that happens. On Feb. 13, there were 478 reservations to go and they are getting 13-17 reservations per day. That will then be sometime in mid-March when they will hit 65K.
Can not wait for this car to go into production. I am so looking forward to driving one. Reservation made in 2016
I am about to give up hope in the Elio and I will check out the Aricomoto....
I agree with what I keep seeing get the production started and the momentum will continue to grow. That said keep putting off production and this could just turn out to be a big pie in the sky
I placed a non-refundable $1000 deposit in early 2013 and have a reservation number in the high hundreds. On March 31st 2016 I placed a $1000 deposit on the upcoming Tesla Model 3. Guess which one will get built first...my money is on the Tesla!!! I've given up on Paul Elio and his team. Of course, there is always that very, very small chance but I'm not holding my breath.
I am giving up on Elio, I thought this was so promising....