aNewDomain.net — Elio Motors‘ Elio car is a $6,800 tandem three-wheeler vehicle that’s capable of getting 84 miles per gallon, says CEO Paul Elio. It won’t be in production until next year, so our Lamont Wood, Kerry Kinsey and Gina Smith took a closer look at CES 2014.
Reps hanging around the Elio booth at CES 2014 made a point of telling our edit director Gina Smith that comedian Jay Leno wants to be first in line to get a $6,800 Elio car when it rolls off the production line in 2015.
The punchline? Leno wants one, sure. But even Leno’s gardener will be able to afford one.
What’s the story with this crazy little car? Our Kerry Kinsey interviewed CEO Paul Elio about the Elio, and it is scheduled to come off the production lines next year at the former General Motors assembly plant in Shreveport, La. Check out Kerry’s video interview with Paul Elio below. Scroll under the fold for more details on Elio. And click here to see our colleague Lamont Wood’s deep dive on the Elio, written right after he saw it at the ShowStoppers press event at CES 2014.
How does Elio come in so cheap? At under $7,000, it costs about half of what the cheapest automobile in the United States costs. It isn’t just the three-wheel design that makes it cheap, though the design is, for sure, cool-looking and innovative. The difference is that the Elio installs a small gas-system powertrain instead of the more-expensive electric powertrain so in vogue these days. It’s also a two-seater — and tiny. That means it’s cheaper to produce and there are fewer parts to assemble, basically.
But while the Elio will be small, it won’t be slow, Paul Elio told aNewDomain. The car employs a 70-horsepower, one-liter engine — a three-cylinder engine — right up front. Sounds pokey. But Elio insists that, due to its light weight and aerodynamic design, the two-seater will be able to go 0 to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds. And it’ll go up to 100 mph, which is fast enough for a return trip from Silicon Valley down the 280.
The small powertrain is worth a deeper dive, too. Paul Elio told us that it’s ultra-efficient, taking tiny gulps of gas and delivering 84 mpg on the highway and up to 49 mpg in the city. Its fuel tank only carries about 8 gallons of gas, we should note, but its mpg rating means it’ll go up to 672 miles on the highway without a fill up. Those are some amazing claims we can’t wait to see in action.
Also on board the Elio: anti-lock brakes (disc-based ABS system), plus a five-speed automatic transmission.
Paul Elio told us the car features independent suspension — its control arms are unequal. As for bumps, consider this. The Elio, reps told us, includes a shock and a coil-over-spring in the front. In the back, there’s a mono-shock with a coil-over-spring.
The one thing to wrap your head around is just how tiny the Elio is. It’s just over 160 inches in length — and there’s a 110-inch wheelbase. A car only Fred Flintstone could love? Not really. The majority of men will fit into it, according to Paul Elio. Even a 6′ 8″ basketball star — or a football player weighing in at 325 lbs. — will fit in. How comfortably they’ll fit is anyone’s guess.
Gina Smith is The New York Times bestselling author of Apple founder Steve Wozniak’s biography, iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It (Norton, 2006/2014). She is also founder and editorial director here at aNewDomain. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her @ginasmith888 and find her posts on Google+ at her +Gina Smith page.