Three-wheel takeover bid
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ELIO PROMISES FUEL EFFICIENCY, SAFETY AND JOBS FOR LOCALS
It might look like a toy car with stabilisers, but the Elio could soon be taking over United States roads.
The three-wheeled NZ$10,000 vehicle seats two passengers and goes from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 9.6 seconds.
It is the same length as a Honda Fit, but half the weight at 570kg, allowing it to do 37km/l.
Elio Motors hopes to disrupt the American transportation industry with its low-cost, fuel-efficient vehicle, much like Volkswagen did with the Beetle in 1968.
“Volkswagen entered the market in 1968 with an extraordinary vehicle at an incredible price and shook up the industry,” said Elio founder and CEO, Paul Elio.
“We are on the path to launching an extraordinary vehicle ... setting an even more aggressive and affordable price . . . in a way that will create American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, be better for the environment and strengthen American manufacturing.”
The base price will allow the company's non-refundable reservation holders to lock in their purchase price until the company reaches 65,000 reservations. (Department of Energy (DOE) guidelines specify that start-up companies need to further demonstrate market acceptance through firm sales commitments.) “We have developed more than $350 million in pre-production sales with over 56,000 reservations, the vast majority being non-refundable,” said Elio.
As an extra incentive for the non-refundable reservation holders, the company will lock in the vehicle price at a $9700 base price. The company plans to start making the cars next northern autumn at a former General Motors plant in Louisiana.
Because the Elio has three wheels, it is classified as a motorcycle by the US government. But Elio said the vehicle had all the safety features of a car, such as anti-lock brakes, front and side air bags and a steel cage that surrounds the occupants.
The two seats sit front and back. It has a three-cylinder, 0.9-litre engine and a top speed of around 160 km/h. There is only one door, on the left side.
The Elio will be offered with a manual or automatic transmission, and has air conditioning, power windows, door locks and an AM/FM radio.
US drivers won't be required to wear helmets or have motorcycle licences.