The Elio ultra-high-mileage vehicle is set to go on sale next year for $6,800, returning 84mpg on the highway while offering a host of mod cons. We suspect you’ll know instantly whether it’s your kind of car.
Elio Motors has been working on its eponymous tandem-seated hyper-miler for six years and, despite some incongruous business strategy contentiously illustrated by Jo Borras on Gas2, says a final production version will be delivered to customers next year.
There’s no electric trickery in the drivetrain, just a 55hp three-cylinder engine and some aerodynamic bodywork. The headline figure of 84mpg is for highway driving, where the Elio will slice through the air with deceptive ease, much like the Volkswagen XL1, but urban fuel economy is a match for a Toyota Prius at 49mpg. With an eight-gallon tank a range of more than 520 miles should realistic most of the time.
Elio Motors says two factors distinguish its car from similarly alien hyper-miler machines. Firstly, the tricycle is kitted out with air conditioning, electric windows and other amenities normally lacking in machines seeking all-out efficiently. Secondly, and more impressively should it materialise, is the Elio’s anticipated five star crash safety rating, which would result from airbags, a reinforced frame, and a crumple zones 50 percent larger than comparably sized vehicles.
Elio will try to appeal to more enthusiastic drivers by offering a five-speed manual transmission, and with a low center of gravity and front-wheel drive commuter should be good fun to fling around town. An automatic version will also be available, however.
Performance, as you might expect, is modest. The sprint 60mph takes 9.6 seconds and top speed should be around 100mph. In our experience, however, 100mph will feel like 200mph in the Elio while acceleration will feel brisk enough. Things are generally more exciting when you’re siting eight inches above the tarmac.
Elio Motors has a product – as yet untested by the public – but it has a long way to go before realising its goal of offering the car in the top 60 markets across the US with independent dealerships.
Elio says it already has more than 14,000 reservations for the tricycle and, when in operation, it’s more environmentally friendly than a cow (work it out). For just under $7,000, are you tempted?
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