Elio Motors Wants To Buy Old GM Plant To Build Cheap 60 MPG “Car”


Does this story sound familiar? A green car startup wants to buy a former General Motors plant, though this time the setting isn’t Delaware, but rather Shreveport, Louisiana. Elio Motors hopes to buy the old GM plant to sell their low-cost, high MPG car.

The Shreveport plant has already seen one would-be green automaker shrivel up and die while waiting for Federal funding. Bright Automotive hoped to build a high-MPG hybrid van at the Shreveport plant, but withered on the vine waiting for DOE funding. Meanwhile in Delaware, Fisker has come under fire for buying a former GM plant, but failing to deliver the jobs that they promised.

Things might turn out differently this time though, as the Elio has a projected cost of just $6,800. That would make it the cheapest car in America, though you get just three wheels instead of four, as it is basically a glorified trike. The Elio does come with a three-year warranty though, and has more than a few safety features that includes three airbags, a reinforced roll-cage frame, anti-lock brakes, and a projected 5-star safety rating.  The website claims 60 MPG and 672 miles to a tank of fuel, though the video claims 84 MPG.

It does also have the potential to be very fun to drive, though the promo video looks like something from the 1990s. Elio Motors was also only able to raise $150,000 from investors, of the $10 million they sought. It will take a lot more money than that to retool the old GM plant.

Elio Motors claims it can support as many as 1,500 jobs, though some analysts and politicians are rightly skeptical. We’ve said before that America could use an ultra-cheap car, but no automaker seems able or willing to do it, at least not in America. Could Elio Motors fill that need?

Source: Detroit Free Press | Elio Motors

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • Jason Carpp

    So, why not? If they want to build cars they should be allowed. They have plenty of room to build. They’ll have plenty of room to build a variety of vehicles, engines, bodies, for whatever people want or need. If it’s made here in the USA, using made in the USA parts, so much the better.

  • Apparently, investors in startup car companies are *very* hard to come by right now. The Elio (Trikke?) price and higher MPG than anything else on the market are what will get people in the door, so to speak.

    They are claiming 60MPG Combined and 84MPG Highway, is how I understand it. The other details they have given are it will be a 1L 3cyl front drive with either automatic or manual transmission, A/C, 3 air bags, ABS brakes. They just released a rendering of the interior today (on Facebook anyway).

    I say more power to them! I’d love an EV version, but maybe that will come later.


  • Grant

    I’ve been riding bikes since 1972(minis)and I’d love to have this rather than my bike with a 2.3L engine at 30mpg It would be the same cost of getting a side car full enclosed ed. for my son to ride in. this ELIOS will have full roll cage & front wheel drive. It would be a wise move for me to take on many levels and MADE IN USA.

    • Jason Carpp

      I agree. As lon as it’s made here in the USA, rather than China, or the Middle East, I’d be happy. We have the capability to build here. We just need money to do the work.

      • Capability was never in question – Americans built the modern auto industry in the last century. The issue is cost of labor: an American UAW worker costs a company $40-60/hr (with benefits) while they can get workers in Turkey or China or, heck, CANADA at a far lower wage.

        • al

          I agree Jo, an American worker should work on a line and spend their whole life working for a living only being able to afford to live with mom and dad and ride a bike to work. Pay them $8 an hour so all profits go to the stockholders. Sounds like the American dream. I’m sure that would work out just fine for you and your family if that was done to you.

    • I hope it’s not front-wheel drive. Unnecessarily complicated, and too much weight in the front.

      • Jason Carpp

        I agree. I’ve never been a fan of front-wheel drive cars.

  • I suspect the engine will be outsourced, but yeah, mostly American made. The unit actually sounds suspiciously like the old Geo Metro 3 cylinder, which got upwards of 58 mpg highway even back in the late 80’s. I just hope they get the funds they need to pull this off. As soon as I can scrape together $100 extra to, I’m in!

    • Jason Carpp

      I agree. We need the money more than other countries do.

    • I thought the same thing. As I bought a brand new Geo Metro in 1989. (Right after I married my 1970 wife). It was great! I was in the military back then. We drove the heck out of that car, and yes I got 50 mpg all day long!
      If this thing uses that (SIMPLE) engine and carb, you will get + 50 mpg. As this three wheeler will probably 300-400 lbs lighter (maybe more).

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  • Like the idea! Until I saw this, I was dead set on a Smart car. Of course, I’m driving my Saturn until it’s no longer viable, so it will be a few more years at least.

    • Ron Valkenburg

      I am now on mt second Smart car, love them but I have put a deposit down on the Elio.

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  • DiscustedONE

    This is an ugly motor vehicle.
    I would hardly by any stretch of the imagination call this a car. It is transpotation for those who want to take the chance in driving it. The bright colors help, but I can imagine what a Semi Truck would do to this, even an SUV? Don’t try to convice me of 5 star ratings. Not enough air space between occupant and what is crashing into it.
    It is great that an alternative transportation is being offered, but I will never drive an Obama Car, Dumb car or an Elio . Gas can be cheap, greed keeps it expensive. I like my SUV, the ride, and being able to go through 2.5 – 3ft of snow.

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  • Budracer

    I would buy one as a commuter car and may use it on weekends for fun.
    My hope is that he comes through and produces it. I will buy one if he makes it. I would like to see one in person in Tulsa,OK. Soon and mite put money down. The guy with the bad imagination need to be open to new Ideas. We as a nation can’t kept using up our resources like we are. I have all so thought about a Smart Car

    but wend I saw this it change my mine, I drive a Chevy Z71 most and get 15mpg I live in Oklahoma 50miles north of Tulsa so the fuel saving would be great

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