A low-cost vehicle that gets 84 miles per gallon

It won't break any speed records, but this vehicle might have found an important niche in the personal transportation market.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor
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.

Elio Motors 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

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