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Car Maker Aims To Conquer Market With 84-MPG Three Wheeled Car

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

Christmas is almost here! So what do you get for the guy or gal who has everything? Would you buy an 84-mpg vehicle? More than 25,000 people so far have paid $100 to get on the waiting list for the new three wheeled car, slated to be out next year.

The cost? Only $6,800.

That’s gotten the attention of the industry, for sure.  Some have scoffed that “super-cheap” vehicles don’t go over well with consumers, citing the experience of the Tata Nano in India.   But the new Elio model (made by Elio Motors, a company founded in 2008 by Paul Elio) is far from a Tata Nano.

Far From Just Another Cheap Face

First, it’s actually a three-wheeler, not a four-wheel car. Now, before you change the channel, it’s not going to be like any three-wheeler you may know. It will have a top speed of 100 mph, a 5-star government crash rating, and an 8-gallon fuel tank that will take you almost 650 miles.

It will be American-made, using mostly North American parts put together at the former GM assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Unlike the overtly-cheap Tata Nano, the Elio (we’ll call it that because we don’t know what the model name will actually be) will have all the standard car amenities you would expect. Front wheel drive, three air bags, stability control, high quality stereo, antilock brakes, AC and window defrost. All the typical good stuff.

What's The Catch?

So if you have a car that costs less than seven thousand bucks and gets over 80 miles to a gallon, what’s the catch? There are a few quirks that will either bother someone enough for them not to buy it, or they’ll write them off as a tradeoff to get the value that attracted them.

First, it only has one door. It seats two, but the passenger actually sits behind and to the side of the driver. A little unusual, but helps with vehicle balance.  It has a rather small trunk, really only enough to fit a carry-on luggage bag. 

And it isn’t legally classified as a car, but rather as a motorcycle. When they first made the ruling, the big concern was whether they would then require people to wear a helmet inside the Elio.  Luckily, common sense prevailed there and Elio has been successful in getting states to make the needed legal exceptions there.

So if none of these sound like a deal-breaker to you, the $6,800 Elio could be something you’d want to check out next year.

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This post was published on December 23, 2014 and was updated on August 2, 2022.

Topics: Car Care