Cat Hiles

Elio Production to Start Next Fall

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Elio production

Elio production to start this fall Photo: Elio Motors

Back in May, I reported on a tiny, three-wheeled car that could very well become the future of city driving. The Elio is the same length as the Honda Fit, but at less than half the price and half the weight, the Elio is a much more attractive prospect to those who have to navigate big cities on a daily basis. And since it’s expected to get 49 mpg in the city and 84 mpg on the highway, owning an Elio can save you some big bucks over time on top of it having a low purchase price. Now, Elio production is slated to begin next September, so drivers could get their hands on one sooner than they thought.

How Do I Get One?

Elio Motors is still taking reservations on its tiny car, and so far, over 27,000 drivers have signed up. That’s almost 10,000 more than the end of May when we last met this unique vehicle. In case you’ve forgotten, it has seating for two—one in the front, and one in the back—plus it has a small trunk that can fit your gym bag, groceries, or whatever else you frequently tote around. Since it’s a three-wheeled vehicle, the Elio will technically be classified as a motorcycle, although it will offer all the safety features expected from a car, such as air bags, a steel cage, and anti-lock brakes.

Gallery: Available Colors

So far, the majority of drivers who have reserved a vehicle are older buyers who plan on using the Elio as a second or third car for their daily commutes, while still relying on larger vehicles for longer trips or for when they need to transport their families. Eventually, the company hopes to expand its appeal to newly-licensed drivers and young professionals who need a commuter vehicle but don’t have the disposable income to splurge on a full-sized car.

Who Is Elio Motors?

Company founder Paul Elio, a former cab driver and stockbroker in NYC, designed the Elio after becoming exasperated with rising fuel prices, as well as American dependence on foreign oil reserves. The company has applied for a $185 million advanced vehicle development loan from the U.S. Department of Energy in order to help make this innovative car a reality. The Elio will manage to maintain a low selling price through a number of money-saving tactics, such as only having one door and having three wheels. Additionally, Elio Motors plans to sell the car much like Tesla Motors sells their electric vehicles—directly to the consumer, through its own stores rather than via a dealership, which will cut costs even further. As of right now, Elio plans to have stores in 60 major metropolitan areas throughout the Unites States.

Gallery: The Elio

Future Challenges

With the resistance facing Tesla’s business model, it’s possible that Elio will encounter some pushback from dealers that sell major auto brands when it comes time to start opening stores. But, with any luck, Tesla will pave the way for independent companies like Elio Motors. Elio production will begin next fall at a Shreveport, Louisiana plant formerly used by General Motors. By 2016, Elio plans to build 250,000 cars annually. Perhaps this is a pipe dream for a small, independent company, but we can only hope that Elio will be able to make it in the mainstream market due to its low affordability and city-friendliness.

Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don’t ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies.

Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.