Elio Motors $6800 Car: Full Specs, Production Plans and Video

Written by Gina Smith

Our Kerry Kinsey, Gina Smith and Lamont Wood take a deep look at the Elio car from Elio Motors. The three-wheeler is just $6,800. Details plus video here.

aNewDomain.netElio 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.

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

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.

For aNewDomain.net, it’s Kerry Kinsey. and Lamont Wood reporting.

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 gina@anewdomain.net, follow her @ginasmith888 and find her posts on Google+ at her +Gina Smith page.


  • i just wish the two seats weren’t tandem… the #singleforever car….

  • I want one, I spent my life in the retail auto business and I believe that this car will have a long waiting list to purchase one or more.

  • I really want Elio to succeed and I actually want one, and it will cause a well deserved shake up with the overpriced 3 wheel motorcycle crowd too.. However, I see a lot of states will not want these vehicles allowed in their states for one simple reason, It will reduce the amount of gasoline tax they get because of it’s high gas mileage. These states will have all sorts of excuses why this vehicle can not be licensed in their state but you will never hear them say reduced gasoline taxes.

  • I got in the All In $1000.00 with the $ 500.00 bonus. I just wish they would start the plant. I live in Maryland and I own a Harley Trike. Could of got 5 Elios for what that cost.

  • How tiny it is, at 160 inches overall? The thing to keep in mind is that that makes it four and a half feet longer than the other 2-person people-hauler, the Smart fortwo. It’s also half the price. However, in NYC, for example, where I live, if you earn less than say $100k per year, and you need or want a car, you’re gonna park it on the street. If you do that, the Elio is no more park-able than any other small car. Which means that you’ll be driving around and around and around, where if you had a Smart car, you’d probably be enjoying your cocktail already. The Elio does get far better gas mileage (it gets what the Smart SHOULD get), but I don’t know. I’m not entirely sold yet; we’ll see how it goes!

      • And where do you live, good sir? I’ve lived other places, and I have to say I love/hate NYC. It’s not hell, but neither is it heaven. This also holds for Colorado Springs, Geneva IL, Seattle WA, Lynchburg VA, Tucson AZ, and any number of other places where I’ve lived or spent considerable time. Oh yeah, and Amsterdam, and Akumal MX also. Nice. Not heaven.

        I realize I didn’t answer your question of why NYC, but I figured you weren’t really interested.

      • The only reason I would think of living in NYC was that I wouldn’t need a car in the first place.

  • the main article says 70 horses but if you click on the link by lamont wood near the top he says 55 horses. im all in but don’t like conflicting info. also, they have lowered the all in bonus to 250. I wish them luck..would hate to lose a grand.

  • I, for one, would like to know how much is weighs. The original Honda civic could be picked up and carried by four guys.

  • With such a low price, how will a world wide shipping and dealership network be financed? #bubble #margins #lackofbusinessplan

  • I’m Canadian, and I really want the Elio to be a success. It sounds like cost analysis has been done. That being said, I hope the press does not put a Negative Spin on this project. The Press seems to have a ‘gift of the gab’ and lacks common sense when it comes to Vehicles.