Elio Motors Follow Up – Will They Fulfill the Promise?

Elio autocycle next to Cadillac CTS

Elio autocycle next to Cadillac CTS - it's bigger than you might think

A little over a year ago, we looked at a new company in Louisiana called Elio Motors. They were promising to build a new, enclosed three wheeler with two tandem seats, capable of 84 mpg on the highway, meeting automotive crash standards at a price of $6800. I was a bit skeptical that it would accomplish all that, if it was ever built at all, but a few days ago I received an email from the company saying I should take a look at what they have done. So I did.

Elio interior looks complete

Elio interior looks complete, with all the automotive features you would want

It looks like they have prototypes driving around and available for inspection at numerous events around the country. They're calling it an "autocycle" because it's considered a motorcycle for registration purposes, as all three wheelers are, but it has the enclosed cabin and steering wheel you expect from a car, not exactly a new concept though some news anchors seem to think it is. During TV interviews, company CEO, Paul Elio, ran off some of the features:

  • 3 airbags
  • 2 seatbelts
  • power windows
  • power door locks
  • heating and air conditioning
  • front wheel drive
  • electronic stability control
  • 3 year/36,000 mile warranty
  • 90 percent North American content

Did I mention, $6800? There aren't many motorcycles at that price point.

They have a long list of companies that work with the big automakers supplying parts and doing engineering. It sounds like a great little car and as a commuter vehicle it looks to be a perfect fit. It's being built in Shreveport, LA in an old GM plant and you can pre-order one today for production slated to begin in 2015. I like it, I hope it sells like crazy and is wildly successful, but as I look at this I keep wondering, what am I missing?

Link: Elio Motors

Elio has a heater and front wheel drive

Elio has a heater and front wheel drive, so it works in the snow


  1. jim says

    Saw it here. Got enthused. Saw it live on tour. Reserved #1355 of thousands now reserved. Waiting patiently for 2015.

  2. Nicolas says

    May I ask a stupid question ? Why is the door on the left, towards the street/traffic, and not on the right, towards the sidewalk ? Is it to keep the familiarity with getting in the “car” from the left driver door ?

    • jim says

      Shift mechanism runs along the right side of compartment & roll cage integrity strengthened by omission of right side door. Narrowness of compartment allows one to exit within what would be the perimeter of a 4-wheel vehicle.

  3. says

    I saw this at a digital advertising event I worked last month (surprised the heck out of me, but there it was). I talked to the guys there and this all seems to be in the up and up. It wasn’t a running model, but everything is in the right place. I was also very happy to hear a 5 SPD manual will be the base transmission.

    Waiting patently. I hope some of my cousins have already put their names in the hat for jobs.

  4. anders 'Ace' eliasson says

    I may have found the commuter I’ve been looking for. 55hp doesn’t really excite much, but at 1200 lbs I guess it’s adequate. Of course, for $6800 base, one could spend some more & swap in a Hayabusa engine :^) …


  5. abe says

    Since it’s a “motorcycle” I assume one would be legally required to wear a helmet while driving it in helmet-law states.

    • jim says

      Only 4 require helmet in enclosed vehicle & legislative effort to change those has been launched.

  6. says

    If it’s registered as a motorcycle, I would assume you need to have an MC endorsement on your license. That would cut down dramatically the number of potential buyers.

    If you showed up to the MC driver’s test with one of these, would you still be allowed to take the test? I can see a problem here… If a person is takes the test in one of these, they’ll be licensed to ride a 2 wheeler without having ever demonstrated the ability to handle a 2-wheeler. If the test is required to be completed on a 2-wheeler, that even further erodes the customer base for this vehicle.

    • MarkDk says

      As far as taking a motorcycle test in one of these. Since you would test in a three wheeled cycle you are limited to that type of vehicle. In order to have a two wheel endorsement, you would have to take the test on one of them. At least that is what I have been told by a Michigan driving test administrator.

    • jim says

      Plenty of questions in several states. The legislative division of Elio has been working effectively with many states to bring about rational licensing procedures.

  7. GenWaylaid says

    For those of us who already ride motorcycles, the Elio has one big advantage: in the space taken up by one normal car, you can fit an Elio and two motorcycles! So, you can save garage space while still having a winter vehicle.

  8. FREEMAN says

    I like it. I welcome all new vehicles. I doubt the price though. But if they pull all that off, more power to them. Hell, if they show up in my area I’d buy one too for that price.

  9. says

    $6800.00! Not a chance, Sucker born every minute. If Eliot can produce these at this price, they would have been bought up by now. Polaris is expected to release the 3 wheeled Slingshot some time in the next year. That has a speculated price of $21000.00. The Slingshot does not have an enclosure, power windows etc…… Hope no one put deposits down.

    • GenWaylaid says

      How can a Versa cost only $12k when a Bugatti is seven figures? Nissan must be a scam.

    • Rev. Stevils says

      If you happen to look at the stats, the slingshot looks more like a track toy. You have to pay more for that kind of performance.

    • Klaus says

      More than 33,000 reservations on September 1, 2014 – that may make it profitable! But I doubt the 84 mpg – my 2013 CRF250M weighing 145kg barely manages that.
      But if it’ll cost 10% more and uses 20% more gas I’d still be interested!

  10. paolo says

    I would love for them to succeed but they won’t,
    No physical crash trials and no airbags in the demonstrators yet they want to sell cars in the near future
    Its a crash disaster and I doubt anyone wants to sit tandem its not a bike, the price also is just too low to make a profit
    They have done a great job with the state, investors and marketing but there is no viable product here unfortunately

  11. Jason says

    I hope they make it happen but I put the odds at about 0.05% that this vehicle every comes to market. If it does the price will have to at least double. They are promising a road worthy vehicle with airbags, power accessories, etc for less than major manufacturers charge for an off-road UTV. It will never happen.

  12. Paulinator says

    The one glaring failure of this project to date is certainly the price-point. It raises way more alarm than excitement. It leads me to wonder what kind of focus groups did they study to build their business model? Even if this product is legit and the numbers are real, many potential early adaptors appear to be pushed back by discretion. The low sticker price has probably reduced initial sales volume and definitely decimated profitability for the fledgling auto giant. Once the company stabilizes and the product proves itself, I’ll be parking one in my driveway. Not any sooner, though.

    • jim says

      2 new Harleys for under $8K each ?? How can that be? They’ll surely go broke for lack of sales.

      • Paulinator says

        480 pounds for $8000 versus 1200 pounds for $6800? The Harleys are new models offered from an established marque, whereas Elio is breaking a new trail with this one.

    • jim says

      We have become accustomed to paying much more than the cost of production for some products, thereby contributing exorbitant profit to some companies: Exxon, Microsoft, HD, Honda, to name a few.

  13. Tom says

    I like it, I hope it does well, but I won’t be getting one because I don’t have a commute pattern that matches the target model. They need people who commute far enough to be attracted by substantial possible gas savings, and far enough that riding a bike in inclement weather is a problem. And who probably work in an office.
    I need a 30+ mpg compact pickup truck with 1/2 ton capability, because I need it to commute, and to work side jobs with/haul all sorts of broken stuff.

    So if someone were to just to start making 70’s era style Mazda B-series again with diesel motors, that’d be just peachy keen. ( I know, heresy on a bike site.)

    Though I have been thinking about making a flat bed side car for my bike….

    • Lostinoz says

      OH man I miss my 80 Ford Courrier (Mazda b2000 rebadge) I vote for the mazda diesel too!

      $6800 price point? maybe for wholesale. They look great, almost exactly what I needas far as a cheap commuter, customizable to a point, and more secure than a “regular” trike so you can lock things into it.

      2015, I’ll be watching out for this, IF they hit their price point (plus of course the 2k in destination fees that seem standard nowadays) I’d seriously consider it.

  14. Mark Braunschweig says

    Yes I saw it here first, #996 on the list. I think Paul Elio will go down in history as a man bigger than Herry Ford.

      • Klaus says

        IAV – I was afraid it would be some obscure Asian company but am very positively surprised that it’s German! Volkswagen Group holds 50% of the shares, that is very comforting.
        This is getting more and more interesting…

  15. Icabod Mudslinger says

    Most folks are so used to being ripped off by the manufacturers and dealers for all products, thanks to the unions prices have been driven through the roof on all means of transportation from roller skates to jetliners. Every group along the way has its union contract and we the people pay for the packages they get especially government unions we get back very poor government service due to unions.

  16. Thomas lewis says

    Elio should of sourced a engine that was in full production.I would of loved a Honda direct injection,3 cylinder turbo diesel and I’m betting most people would gladly pay the difference,knowing the car will deliver 90 mpg while going 400,000 trouble free miles.I don’t think buyer’s need another Vega,Pinto,Yugo,Renault,etc adventure in repairs bills.,6800 dollars should buy more than a boat anchor or a bee farm.

  17. Frank says

    It is powered by the tried and true Daihatsu engine used in the Geo Metro, some Cushman trikes and trucks and of course Daihatsu vehicles. The price is very attractive in this economy however it does seem that we could expect dealer’s to jack it up if these are a hit. I personally like it since I once considered chopping up a Geo to produce something similar. This may be safer than a Geo since it has airbags unless they knock people out when deployed. It is attractive too. I am tired of waiting to see these on the street. I think people are ready for these considering the sales of micro cars in urban area’s. The problem is that some people buy these cars to fit is tight parking spaces and even to park like a motercycle if it is a stubby thing like that smart car, also known by me as a football helmet on wheels. Yes I say that smart car because it’s not really a great car for the price point. This is so much nicer and the wheelbase should make a more comfortable ride though in trade for losing that odd short parking space in the city; considering the overall light weight and reliable drivtrain I can speculate that they should hold up for about 150,000 miles if not abused and that is value for this price point.

  18. Boneyard0128 says

    I have driven everthing from the reliable rollerskate to eighteen wheeled monster mammoths. My concern is purely safety. Motorcycles are dangerous enough, no doubt, and even two wheeled scooters are cheap on gas for the miles driven. So the question is with a 50cc scooter ( no licences, no insurance, no tags, no inspections; and in most states; no helmet ), with base pricing of $900.00 to $1500.00, and most can achieve 100 miles to the gallon, there is no advantage for this product. Well, may be you can still drive a “motorcycle” in bad wheather. A motorcycle with a roll-cage. And by the way, motorcycles have handle bars, not a steering wheel. FYI