Elio Motors Planning New 3 Wheeler in Former Louisiana GM Plant

Elio Motors 3 wheeler to be built in a former GM plant

Elio Motors 3 wheeler to be built in a former GM plant

When someone announces a new motorcycle or car, coming soon with great specs and amazing price, you just have to be a bit cautious, so this new 3 wheeler from Elio Motors, may be a huge success, it may never be produced or it may fall somewhere in between.

Elio Motors 3 wheeler to be built in a former GM plant

Elio Motors 3 wheeler to be built in a former GM plant

The quick story:

  • 3 wheels
  • tandem seats
  • 84 mpg highway / 49 mpg city
  • 8 gallon tank
  • inline, 3 cylinder, 1 liter, 70 HP, fuel-injected, SOHC gas-powered, liquid-cooled, automotive engine.
  • 5-speed manual or automatic with reverse
  • 3-wheel disc brakes with ABS
  • front engine front wheel drive
  • $6800

Three wheels means it's a motorcycle for registration purposes, but the CEO says it will meet automotive crash standards.

They are setting up shop in a former GM plant in Shreveport, Louisiana and will employ 1500 workers and it will be manufactured in the USA with American made parts.

Add it all up and my "I'll believe it when I see it" radar is on high alert, but you never know. A lot of former auto execs are on the board so maybe it will take off when it is introduced in the spring of 2014.

Head on over and see for yourself.

Link: Elio Motors

Elio Motors 3 wheeler

Elio Motors 3 wheeler


  1. Renegade_Azzy says

    I love that in their promo video, they show a mom and 2 kids washing. Those kids could not both ride in this car.

  2. David Duarte says

    I would seriously consider buying one for my commute when the weather is wet when I’d rather not ride a motorcycle.

  3. says

    I agree Paul, this sounds too good to be true.
    Great fuel economy, check.
    More room than a smart car, check.
    More fun that a barrel of monkeys, check
    If they make it I might buy one for my teenager, no room for bad ideas and low operating cost.

  4. Paul Crowe says

    Just price all of the parts, then figure in overhead, … $6800? Meets automotive crash standards? Guess we have to wait and see.

  5. says

    Morgans, Reliants, Messerschmitts and Vespa Apes notwithstanding, threewheelers rarely do well commercially. This one looks hotter than the Aptera (my favorite contemporary one), and I hope they’ll sell. The country needs fuel-effecient vehicles that can also be a blast to drive.

  6. B50 Jim says

    Wow — it sure is….green. Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it, too, but I applaud any attempt to build a new vehicle in America with American parts. The price sounds like wishful thinking, but with efficient assembly and clever design it might be possible. I wonder who will make the engines? Will they be American as well?

    It is a sharp-looking little item and would be great fun. I’m not sure if the tandem seats will go over very well; would a passenger really want to ride in that narrow space, staring at the back of the driver’s head? I think it would be more popular for a one-person runabout with some storage space and that can carry a passenger in a pinch.

    All criticism aside, it looks very doable. There’s nothing exotic or cutting-edge like hybrid systems or auto-stabilty control to increase the cost, so it might come in at $6,800. That’s way cheaper than a Smart Car and way cooler. I’d drive (ride?) one anywhere.

    • says

      I think it’s possible to hit the $6,800 target… if they use a Brigs & Stratton 6.5HP mower motor.

      I hope it comes to fruition within a grand or two of their target. I like the idea of this thing.

    • says

      Lower weight, lower rolling resistance, lower air resistance, less complexity, low speed stability compared to having two, fewer raw materials needed per completed vehicle, ability to register as a motorcycle -> cheaper to build, buy, own.

      • Karl says

        Think the fact that it has to get registered as a motorcycle is a negative for success. So few of us are licensed for a bike.

  7. Tom Bows says

    Any decently affordable vehicle will have to be registered as a motorcycle anymore. All those safety add on’s really add on to the cost. Of course, with today’s tech obsessed mobs, will it be able to compete with all those with built in nav systems, satellite radio, etc. etc?

    Not an issue for me, but, some peple might care. My newest car is 20 years old. (My motorcycle is admittedly only 7 years old, but I’m looking for something older.)

    • says

      One 5-7 inch Android tablet solves that problem. Though simply building a powered speaker system with power/audio inputs for one’s own phone might be cheaper and use less space in a small cabin.

    • Karl says

      This machine has airbags and ABS. What safety things cost too much? All the infotainment stuff you can get in the aftermarket if you have to have it.

  8. todd says

    I bet they’re using Suzuki’s G motor, especially with all the ties to GM. Those things are unburstable – otherwise known as “Geo Metro.”


  9. says

    Surprisingly easy to figure out: Safety regs. It’s way easier to make it road leagal when it’s classified as a motorcycle.

  10. Britman says

    From their website

    The Reservation Payment is NON-REFUNDABLE and provides you with the benefits in Section 4 below depending on the level of your payment. This Agreement does not constitute an agreement for the sale of a vehicle and does not lock in pricing, a production slot, or an estimated delivery date. You are under no obligation to purchase a vehicle from us, and we are under no obligation to supply you with a vehicle

    • GenWaylaid says

      The “reservation” levels run from $100 up to $1000. Worst case, you lose all the money you pledged. Best case, the Elio does go into production and you can subtract 150% of what you pledged from the purchase price.

      I wish they were following a more conventional crowd-funding model, in which they set a goal and no one is charged if they fail to meet the goal. Non-refundable deposits count as revenue but refundable deposits do not. I guess what Elio is trying to do is build orders and revenue simultaneously. Venture capitalists are rightly suspicious of vehicle start-ups right now.

      I’ll drop them a Benjamin now just in case they succeed. All my car use is for camping trips, which means hours on the highway followed by some twisty mountain roads. The five-speed would be just about perfect with the right tires.

      If they do manage 84 mpg on the highway with an 8-gallon tank, they better throw in a free mason jar. That is one ridiculous cruising range.

  11. Wave says

    It’s got a steel tube frame and “composite” (most probably fibreglass) panels. That means it is not designed to be mass-produced in large volumes. The front suspension arms look like they’re fabricated from steel tubes as well. In short, it’s built like a kit car, so they’re probably not planning to crank out more than a few thousand.

    As others have said, I would be amazed if they can build it in the US for the price they’re advertising. As Britman says, the fact that they’re seemingly trying to crowd-fund it via non-refundable “Reservation Payments” rings even more alarm bells.

    • Nicolas says

      How many motorcycles with a steel tubing frame and composite bodywork have been produced ? That argument doesn’t fly.

      As for the contract, if you have been in touch with a corporate lawyer even once in your life, you understand that this kind of wording gets on the document. THese folks make any business impsossible to conduct.

  12. says

    Having grown up an hour east of Shreveport and spent much time there, I can say I hope it happens.

    I find it dubious as well but have no qualms about being proven wrong. Shreveport needs something for people who aren’t interested in working in the hospitality/service industry (aka: casinos) to do.

    If his marketing team is smart, they’ll take advantage of Louisiana’s burgeoning reality TV industry and come up with a pitch.

  13. says

    I think it’s a very good idea, and there is a need for a very low priced car in this country.
    Car prices are ridiculously out of control, mostly due to gov’t over-regulation.

  14. Scott Dooley says

    I was optimistic for the Corbin Sparrow some years back and we know how that ended. This doesn’t feel the same. A gasoline engine, seating for two, air conditioning, AND a level of safety. This has got me excited. My Ducati Monster makes about 60 hp, cost $8,800, and has a crappy transmission. I might have to dump some money into this louisiana company. I hope more people are interested enough to do the same. Fingers crossed!!

  15. Kevin says

    Like stated, I’ll believe it when I see it. But it would be cool. I never understood why modern car gas mileage is so bad. I mean, a Chevy Spark with 85hp gets 40mpg. A 80hp Honda from the 80s got 50+mpg. With modern EFI and aerodynamics we can’t do better than that?

    • says

      Uhm, you do realize that the number on the window stickers have been revised down twice since the 1980s, right? People complained they weren’t getting the real world mileage the stickers promised so they revised the test back in the 90s, then again in about 2008. On top of that a 1980s Honda Civic weighed about 2000lbs (if that), had no airbags, met a much lower standard of side and front impact protection, had a 12 watt AM/FM radio with 4 tiny speakers and manual steering, windows, door locks and seat adjustment. Car have gotten heavier, and all the accessories eat up power even when the car sits in stop & go traffic.

  16. Kevin says

    This is well priced too. Smart Cars are ridiculous. This would make a great dedicated commuter car, way more economical than an EV.

  17. Cowpieapex says

    Did they actually say that a root canal will seem pleasant after driving the Elio?

  18. says

    There is no way this will pass car crash test standards. If it was going to be able to do that, why not just put a 4th wheel on it and register it as a car? Even a tiny Smart car or Scion iQ sized car with 4 wheels would have a much larger potential audience than a 2 seat, 3 wheel vehicle.

  19. baxterblue says

    Even if it got 60mpg on the HWY and cost $8000 I would buy one.
    All the mini cars available here cost $12,000+ and are lucky to get 40mpg

  20. Cleitus Tyler says

    Let this be and I will certainly buy one. I ride a motorcycle except in bad weather and this way I can ride all the time.