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Friday, January 04, 2013

Elio Motors: Another Zap or Aptera?

A startup named Elio Motors (website) has announced plans to buy GM's closed Shreveport LA plant, with intent to produce their 3 wheeled vehicle.  The Elio prototype is a 2-seater enclosed tricycle with fairly anonymous styling, with two wheels up front and one in back.  A very aggressive price of $6800 has been announced.

I am skeptical of Elio's ability to sell these in any volume.   The trike has some major limitations  including practicality, possibly compromised snow handling, and virtually no crash requirements.   Vehicles like the Elio, and the Zap and Aptera designs are legally considered motorcycles as far as the Feds are concerned, which means that in many states (example: Ohio), drivers may have to get motorcycle certifications and even wear a helmet, until laws are updated.  Unlike passenger cars, the Elio will not be required to have stability control.

I am also skeptical that they can produce a quality, safe, and refined vehicle for only $6800.  Many high-volume motorcycles are priced in this range, which lack the additional equipment (airbags, etc.) that Elio is promising.  A better comparison would be a very small car, such as the Tata Nano.  A European spec Nano was speculated (if it ever arrived) to cost $6,000-$8000.  The cheapest U.S. legal cars I am aware of are the Nissan Versa and Chevrolet Spark, both of which can be purchased for around $12,000.  

At best, I see Elio selling a few thousand cars to people who want an enclosed motorcycle, or like driving something very different.  

9 comments:

Gaius Gracchus said...

That is EXACTLY what we are looking for. We have a Ford F150 and do not need space or a car for snow. We really wanted a motorcycle or scooter but worry about the visibility issue and safety. If this one is more visible and even somewhat safer it is a better option for us.
We would buy this thing TODAY if it were available.

Gaius Gracchus said...

That is EXACTLY what we are looking for. We have a Ford F150 and do not need space or a car for snow. We really wanted a motorcycle or scooter but worry about the visibility issue and safety. If this one is more visible and even somewhat safer it is a better option for us.
We would buy this thing TODAY if it were available.

Gaius Gracchus said...

That is EXACTLY what we are looking for. We have a Ford F150 and do not need space or a car for snow. We really wanted a motorcycle or scooter but worry about the visibility issue and safety. If this one is more visible and even somewhat safer it is a better option for us.
We would buy this thing TODAY if it were available.

Sailor said...

I agree. The vehicle isn't for serious snow driving, but even in Michigan the road only have serious snow on them for maybe two weeks out of the year. After they have been cleared and during all other seasons this vehicle would be perfect. I currently have a daily driver that gets 30 mpg. It's only purpose is to drive me the 20 miles to and the 20 miles back from work. Since I'm the only one riding in the car this would provide a better alternative and would pay for itself in a couple of years in gas savings.

Sailor said...

I live in Michigan. The reality is we have snow actually on the road for maybe two or three weeks out of the year. Between snow storms and during the rest of the seasons this would be a great option. I currently have daily driver to take me back and forth 20 miles each way to work. It gets 28-30 mpg. I figure the Elio would pay for itself in as little as two years in gas savings. Quicker if gas continues to rise.

Kevin F. said...

I drive a truck for my carpentry business, but feel bad when I don't have a load because of the extra gas I am burning. I would totally buy one of these and would be happy to drive it down the coast knowing I would be saving so much money and ultimately be putting a lot less pollution out into the air. I would hate to get into an accident in something this small, but would still buy it.

JustMe said...

These vehicles are not very well known, even so like the last two gentalmen, they see there is great value there. But most have no real idea how much value there is. I have a degree in Automotive power. Two entries in the Automotive XPrize were from my peers. 25years ago, thier vehicles got up to 118MPG with normal engines. And those are not as small or light as the Aptera. I mayself have a project that should beat the Xprise entries. It's on facebook at /araklea. 120mpg is the basline, it gets better from there. Poepl want this stuff. People NEED this stuff.

Em Ma said...

people tear down new things just because they are new or different. this thing has an anticipated 5 star crash rateing. it gets 84 mpg. people its about time we had this technology available i don't know about you but i dont want to be driving a 2o mpg car forever. 95% of drivers in america drive a single person. themselves. for a car of trike to be popular all it needs it support and backing and the purchase of 1% of american drivers. if a motor cycle costs the same amount without any of the fetures the Elio has why not buy it. you see all of the motorcycle out there these days, imagine a vihicle with the same price with better milage and an enclosed space which makes it safer. My point is it is easyer to critizise and teardown than it is to build up and support. New ideas it why this country was founded. lest not give up on it now.

Em Ma said...

a tesla gets 200 miles an elios gets 672 mile per 8 gallon tank on regular gas. It is easyer to critizise and teardown than it is to support and buildup. new ideas should be encouraged not shot down. and new ideas is what the founding fathers had when they created the greates democratic invention of all time this country. this strage vihicle may be the next big thing or it may not be but it was well worth the try. 95% of american drivers only drive them selves on a regular basis from work to home and vice versa. For an auto motive group to be succsesful it only requires the support and purchases of 1% of american drivers. Motorcycle cost the same for less milage and a more dangerous situation the elios more milage and an enclosed space which in its self is much safer. It has an anticipated 5 star crash test result. It gets more milage than a $32000 smart car that get about 3o mpg. an elios gets aboput 80 for $6800. Elios you have my support.