Motorcycle riders have already known this for years, but small, lightweight transportation is great for fuel economy. Based on that premise, Elio Motors (an American company) is bringing a lightweight single seat car to the market with a claimed 84 miles per gallon and a $6,800 price point. While Tata has done this with the Nano, it never made it to the United States and has had questionable reliability. If Elio Motors can deliver a reliable vehicle, they may have a hit on their hands.
The Elio is a 3-wheeled vehicle that features lightweight construction mated to a 55-hp, 0.9L engine. While not a screamer in terms of power, the Elio should achieve 86 miles to the gallon on the highway and 49 in the city. It will be available with either a 5-speed manual or automatic transmission, and will be built in the United States with a US parts content rating of 90% or better. The anticipate a 5-star crash safety rating, but the vehicle has not been officially tested.
The company is taking pre-orders now, and as of late December have 6342 people who have placed an order for one of these vehicles. We imagine that they would require quite a few more pre-orders in order to make it a profitable venture. One of the difficulties in starting an automotive manufacturer in the United States is the amount of safety testing that is required to put a vehicle on sale. These tests come at a significant expense to the auto maker.
Competition is always a good thing. Tesla was a fledgling startup at one point and has grown significantly since then, while forcing the industry to get better. Perhaps Elio Motors will be able to do the same thing?