Elio Motors is a company founded by Paul Elio in 2009, to design a three-wheeled, enclosed autocycle.
The company's three-wheeler is marketed as the Elio P4 and was projected by the company to attain a highway mileage rating of up to 84 mpg and offer power windows, a power door lock, cruise control, and air conditioning, in an aerodynamic, enclosed bodywork.
The company projected[when?] that manufacturing could happen in Shreveport, Louisiana; and had announced release dates as early as 2012, but production has not yet commenced as of 2020. The company has continuously delayed the release date since 2012, and in recent years, has provided no new information about what a revised and solid release date might be.
Elio Motors designed a three-wheeled autocycle with two wheels in front, one in back. Advertisements starting in 2017 show an increased base price target of $7,450 ($7,300 for those with reservations). It was projected to achieve up to 84 mpg-US (2.8 l/100 km) on the highway and up to 49 in the city.
As of June 2017, basic prototypes and three validation vehicles (codenamed: E1-A, E1-C, and E1-D) were built to test safety, aerodynamics, and durability. Even though the E1-C is not used for testing, it was the most up-to-date interior with a cosmetically-evolved engine. Elio claimed the autocycle could be produced using 80% soft-tooling. Elio's marketing has suggested that 100 pre-production fleet vehicles could be built at its Shreveport, Louisiana manufacturing facility if additional funds are secured. By 2018, nearly all funds had been depleted, with nearly US$50 million in outstanding debt, and a projected US$376 million required to reach production.
The vehicle's design includes AC/Heat (projected to be manufactured by RedDOT), AM/FM stereo, power windows/door lock, cruise control, three airbags, a reinforced steel roll cage, side intrusion beams, stability control, and disc brakes with ABS. Continental AG has designed a tire specifically for the Elio.
Elio designs could meet motorcycle standards as a three-wheeled autocycle, within the U.S. government's motorcycle classification. The company lobbied in most states, to alter regulations that would otherwise require drivers to wear a helmet and, in many states to remove the requirement for operators to have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver license.
The design targets a curb weight of 1,350 lb (610 kg); three-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; an inline 0.9 liter three cylinder (designed especially for Elio by IAV), 55 horsepower (41 kW) engine; and front-wheel drive, with a top speed of 107 mph (172 km/h) and an acceleration of 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in approximately 10.8 seconds. The vehicle design has an overall length of 160.5 inches (4.08m) and an overall height of 54.2 inches (1.38m). The front track is designed to be 66.8 inches (1.70m) with a wheelbase of 110 inches (2.79m). The trunk space is designed to be 27 × 14 × 10 inches, enough for one airline carry-on bag or golf bag with the rear seat folded down (47+ inches).
Elio Motors is located in Phoenix, Arizona, and projected in 2017 that manufacturing could take place at a facility in Shreveport, Louisiana, using a portion of the former General Motors 3.2 million-square-foot plant. Production would have employed upwards of 1,500 people at the Shreveport facility plus an additional 1,500 at the supply base, but will not be occurring. In addition, Elio Motors projected that 90% of parts for its vehicle could originate in North America.
The idea of 100 pre-production fleet vehicles was teased in December 2016, however social media replies on Nov 1, 2017, from Elio Motors said, "We are targeting the start of production in 2019". The potential service provider for Elio Motors is Pep Boys which has more than 800 service centers and 7,500 service bays in 35 states. The company started accepting customer reservations on its website in January 2013 and stopped accepting reservations at 65,341 in 2017. On August 3, 2017, Elio filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to have an initial public offering (IPO) for its common stock in order to raise $100 million in capital. In the filing, it said that their vehicle would not be capable of production until approximately 76 weeks after October 2019 at earliest.
Elio Motors has continuously delayed the release date, which was originally in 2012. Since then, the date has been pushed back each year. In December 2016, the date was announced to have moved to 2018, and on Nov 1, 2017 in a Facebook reply, Elio Motors mentioned the start of production aimed for 2019. These dates have made automotive analysts question the company's ability to bring a product to market. Critics have drawn comparisons to the Lit Motors C-1 and Aptera Motors, which had similar production schemes requiring more funding than was attainable, while updating production timelines to give the impression that a product was deliverable. In an effort to secure a Department of Energy loan, Elio offered advance reservations where the buyer can reserve a spot in line to possibly purchase a vehicle for a base price of US$7,450.
By the end of 2017, Elio had only US$7,155 in the bank, and deficits of US$49,674,327. Elio's own estimate was that an investment of US$376,600,000 plus an additional US$110,500,000 in reservation deposits would be necessary in order to go into production. Throughout 2018 and beyond, reservation deposits remained closed, and there was no concrete plan in place to raise the nearly half-billion dollars to proceed. Despite a lack of transparency as to their path forward, Elio announced a December 2019 production date.
Elio continually responds to production timeline inquires with this quote: "The production date is estimated to be 76 weeks from the timely and successful completion of our current and subsequent fundraising efforts. The timing and availability of the funds can move and we will do everything we can to keep the project moving forward by utilizing each piece of funding received, as we receive it." There has been no indication since 2018 that any fundraising is occurring.
- William Garrison (geographer) – studied concept of narrow vehicles
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