CES 2014: New Three-Wheel, $6800 Elio Car Reinvents Commuting

Written by Lamont Wood

At CES 2014, Lamont Wood checks out the new three-wheel Elio, a $6,800 one-passenger car. Elio says Jay Leno wants one, but his gardener can even afford it.

aNewDomain.net — Our Lamont Wood takes a long hard look at the $6,800 Elio car. Check out his take below — and find our Kerry Kinsey’s video interview with Elio CEO Paul Elio below the fold.

Shown at CES 2014 during the ShowStoppers press event, the three-wheel, three-cylinder Elio may reinvent commuting. But it sure won’t have any impact on carpooling. Still, it caught our eye. And you can’t beat that $6,800 price.

Image credit: Lamont Wood

Image credit: Lamont Wood

Paul Elio, CEO, explained that even families with a kid-hauling SUV often have a vehicle on the side for one-person commuting, and the Elio would fit that slot — especially as it gets 84 mpg.

With a list price of $6,800, it should compete with cars often purchased for commuting, even used ones, he added. Mass production will begin next year in Shreveport, LA, using 90 percent U.S. parts. The car’s corporate parent, Elio Motors, which was founded in 2008, will set up company-owned dealerships in 60 cities.

The Elio seats two people in tandem and is just wide enough for one person. Paul Elio said most of its fuel efficiency comes from the improved aerodynamics that stem from being half the width of most cars. But it still weighs as much as a VW Beetle and should not be blown off the highway by passing trucks, he said. He also anticipated that it will earn a five-star crash rating. There is a passenger door only on the driver side. That’s the left side when facing front so there is, in a sense, no actual passenger side.

The passenger gets into the seat behind the driver by leaning down the driver’s seat and stepping over it. There will be a hatch in the rear of the production model for access to a storage compartment, said a spokesman, but the prototype at the show did not have one.

Image credit: Lamont Wood

Image credit: Lamont Wood

The engine delivers about 55 horsepower, and has three cylinders instead of the conventional four (or six, or eight). The engine’s size is mostly to save weight, Elio said. The Elio will also sport an air conditioner, power windows, locks and a sound system. The car comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty.

For aNewDomain.net at CES 2014, I’m Lamont Wood.

Based in San Antonio, Texas, Lamont Wood is a senior editor at aNewDomain.net. He’s been covering tech trade and mainstream publications for almost three decades now, and he’s a household name in Hong Kong and China for a reason. His tech reporting has appeared in innumerable tech journals, including the original BYTE (est. 1975). Email Lamont at Lamont@anewdomain.net or follow him @LAMONTwood.

Here’s my colleague Kerry Kinsey’s video interview with Elio CEO Paul Elio at ShowStoppers.

Video: Kerry Kinsey for aNewDomain, producer Justin Webb for aNewDomainTV