PHOENIX, AZ (CBS SF) — A car that gets 84 miles per gallon and costs just $6800, yet is made in America might be the solution to every Bay Area road warrior’s problems, and it is on its way soon according to Elio Motors. It’s just missing one thing. The fourth wheel.
Elio Motors is now advertising its sleek, modern solution to transportation troubles on Facebook, at least that’s how we discovered it. They’re based in Phoenix, and doing tours across the East Coast this spring to show off the prototypes.
Founder Paul Elio said, “It would allow families with minivans and SUV’s to add an economical commuter vehicle to the driveway. For pure enthusiasts, it would deliver on flat out fun – with a potential for customizing as unlimited as imagination itself.”
By comparison, the Smart Fortwo, which has been in production for several years, gets 38 miles per gallon highway, which seems like a gas guzzler compared to the three-wheeled, but yet to be available Elio.
If Elio can bring his vision to reality, he may have quite a market. Like many other inventors with an idea and a design, his company is taking pre-orders (already over 42,000 people have signed up according to http://www.eliomotors.com/).
In the video, Elio is already road-testing.
If a three-wheeled vehicle seems like the future, a lot of other companies would agree.
Some motorcycle-like trikes that look similar to an Elio if you stripped away the car body are doing well already.
The Can-Am Spyder is no longer a once-in-a lifetime sight on the road, they now have five models out. http://can-am.brp.com/spyder/ It has the benefit of being backed by Bombardier, yes, THAT Bombardier. The smaller vehicle division also makes the Sea-Doo. The Spyder has one main seat, plus a small second seat like most motorcycles.
The next step up to an “almost car” is the Polaris Slingshot, which looks like a cross between Batman’s racer and a motorcycle. The aggressive two seater lets driver and passenger sit along side each other, but like the Spyder, it’s open to the elements, with no roof to shield your nicely pressed suit from the rain. Like the Elio, it has a steering wheel instead of handlebars.
Elio proudly announces that it gets its 84 highway miles per gallon because it is half the width of a normal car, thus has half the wind resistance. It’s a benefit of the three-wheeled frame. European automakers have tried the three-wheeled car off and on throughout the past century, creating economical niche vehicles.
One thing Elio and others need to succeed is the ability to sell their cars, and like Tesla, Elio wants to handle this directly.
If Elio is successful in lobbying to allow sales of “autocylces” directly, it could also pave the way for Tesla’s plans to skip the dealers in many states like Texas and Arizona that ban the practice, according to Fortune.