Set the time machine for 2014, and consider that perhaps it was never meant to be:
I dreamed about how much money driving an Elio would save me. My Subaru WRX STi gets approximately 20 miles per gallon and uses premium, non-ethanol gas (the expensive stuff). The Elio’s light body and small build make it four times as efficient, claiming 84 miles per gallon. Using 2014 gas prices and assuming I would drive to work every single day, I estimated yearly gasoline savings of more than $1,700 a year — and this was before I re-enrolled in college. A round trip to OU from my house is 90 miles. In 2016 I drove to school and back twice a week for 32 weeks — that’s an additional 5,760 miles! I’m no math major, but it seemed to me this car was going to pay itself in savings alone very quickly.
Three years later, and the Elio hasn’t saved me a dime. In fact, I’m still $100 in the hole.
What went wrong?
The future of Elio depends on where you get your information. ElioMotors.com claims that the Elio is “U.S. made by American workers at the former GM plant in Shreveport, Louisiana” … but the reality is, Elio hasn’t made any cars at the Shreveport plant, or anywhere else. In fact, the company is struggling to pay rent. According to Jalopnik.com, “since last October, Elio hasn’t paid their monthly tab to RACER Trust — which provided a $23 million loan to facilitate its move to a shuttered General Motors plant in town. As a result, Elio currently owes more than $1.7 million in back payments to RACER Trust. While the default interest rate of 18% will continue to add up until payments resume, the company now has another year to pay back the principal on the loan.”
You have to figure that the Lending Community didn’t think much of Elio’s chances, if they’re having to fork out 18 percent.
What to do?
Let me save you $100.
I love the idea of an Elio. I can’t imagine anything cooler than driving to work, school, or cross-country in a three-wheeled vehicle that feels like a car — a car that gets twice the miles per gallon my last motorcycle got and that I can drive year round. The backseat has enough room to take a kid to the bus stop or a suitcase full of clothes for a road trip. The dual front-wheel-drive tires are designed to pull the Elio through snow and ice like a futuristic sled. With hybrid and electronic cars still in their infancy, I feel like the Elio is a way to lower my carbon footprint, just a little bit.
The only problem with the Elio, as far as I can tell, is that they’re never going to build them.
It’s probably time for The Truth About Cars to start an Elio Motors Death Watch.