Paul Elio believes he's found a niche in the personal transportation market with a low-cost vehicle that can go really far between trips to the gas station.
has designed a three-wheeled vehicle that gets 84 miles per gallon. And with an eight-gallon tank it can get more than 670 miles in one fill up. The car's price tag: $6,800.
"We’re not just creating a new vehicle," Elio said in a press release
announcing that more than 10,000 people have already reserved the vehicle. "We’re creating an entirely new industry segment that appeals to people who want a low-cost, highly efficient mode of transportation, but still want to own a unique vehicle that will turn some heads. The Elio gives people the best of both worlds."
The vehicle won't break any speed records. It has a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour and accelerates from 0-60 miles per hour in 9.6 seconds. Elio Motors plans for the first vehicles to roll off the production line in 2015.
While it's a fascinating concept, we'll hold off declaring the Elio vehicle the next big thing in personal transportation until we see some actual sales numbers. That's because it's not clear if a low-cost car, especially one with minimal interior space will really catch on in the United States. One company, Aptera Motors, that tried to bring three-wheeled electric vehicles to the U.S. shut down in 2011
One recent example of an ultra-cheap car, from Tata Motors, was a flop in India
. The company had hopes of bringing it to the United States
, but never made it. There are numerous reasons
for this, including an abysmal safety rating
. But there's plenty Elio could learn from Tata's failure, including not looking at safety as a good place for cost-cutting. Elio Motors seems to have already taken note, with the company saying it's building the vehicle with the expectation that it will receive a five-star safety rating.
Elio also has a very specific consumer it hopes to attract: people who drive alone to work, especially people in families that already have one large car. That's a smart consumer to target in the United States since about 80 percent of commuters drive alone
. Whether consumers think it's smart for them remains to be seen.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com