Industry News Elio Motors 2-wheeler

Published on May 13th, 2013 | by Jo Borrás


Op-Ed: Elio Motors Thinks it Can Sell This 3-wheeler. It Can’t.

Elio Motors 2-wheeler

Earlier this week, Troy-based manufacturer Elio Motors introduced more than 20 key suppliers who will be key contributors to the production of the three-wheeled vehicle we featured back in January. Despite industry heavyweights including Altair Engineering, IAV, and NEWTECH 3 involve, a claimed 84 MPG fuel economy rating, a (dubiously anticipated) 5-star safety rating, and a starting price of just $6,800, I think Paul Elio’s little endeavor will fail.

Scratch that. Elio Motors will utterly fail, completely fail, and embarrassingly fail.

Why should you believe me?

First, you need ignore the big-name suppliers. That’s a smokescreen put out into the newsosphere by Paul Elio’s PR people. All it really amounts to is “Altair Engineering is willing to take my money.” I can walk into a Firestone tomorrow and buy 20 sets of tires, but that doesn’t mean Firestone is in any way “backing” my backyard supercar endeavor, savvy? With that out of the way, let’s get to the heart of why Elio’s “cars” will fail.

Elio’s “cars” aren’t cars. Not as far as the DOT or your local DMV is concerned, anyway. See, tipping the scales at less than 1500 lbs. and with only 3 wheels underneath them, Elio Motors’ three-wheelers are, in legal terms, motorcycles. That’s why vaporware specialists like Elio build three-wheelers in the first place: they don’t have to meet the same stringent, hyper-expensive safety and emissions standards as cars, and aren’t subject to the same rigorous tests. In addition, motorcycle manufacturers aren’t held to the same level of legal responsibility that car companies are, even in hyper-litigious countries like the good-’ol US-of-A.

SO, to be clear, premise 1 in my argument is: Elios Motors’ “cars” are, in fact, motorcycles.

I can already hear you asking, “So, what?” You’re right, of course. Honda sells motorcycles. Yamaha sells motorcycles. Kawasaki sells motorcycles. Why can’t Elio?

Premise 2: Many states require motorcycle helmets.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Premise 3: No one wants to wear a motorcycle helmet inside “a car”.

Tom Servo says you look stupid.

Tom Servo says you look stupid.

Because Elios are motorcycles and no one in their right mind would want to wear a motorcycle helmet inside one of these “cars”, Elio won’t be able to sell any of these “cars” in states that require motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

This simple, helmet-based reasoning doesn’t take into consideration other factors, either, factors like …

  • the cost to insure one of these motorcycle
  • the impact riding a motorcycle might have on the driver’s insurance
  • the additional costs and hassles involved in obtaining a motorcycle license

… and the fact that (sort-of) three-wheelers like the DeltaWing have effectively proven that the Elio is built backwards.

Combine all those things, (probably) insufficient funding, and a design aesthetic that makes Genuine’s Lemonhead look tough, and Elio has all the earmarks of a losing deal. Do yourself a favor and keep your hard-earned money as far away from Elio as possible.

Source | Photos: Detroit News.

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

  • protomech

    Re: being built backwards:

    Honda built their 1st gen Insight with a wider front track than rear. Aptera selected a reverse delta for their configuration for the same reasons as Elio. BRP uses the configuration for the Spyder. I don’t think Elio has a chance in hell of delivering @ $6800, but their configuration is the best for aerodynamics and road stability.

    Deltawing is much lower CoG and still has two front tires anyhow; little danger of tipping under aggressive maneuvering, unlike conventional trike motorcycles, Reliant Robins, etc.

    • Jo Borras

      Wrong on all counts.

      The Elio is a FWD car, essentially, that drags the rear. The Aptera was built on entirely different principles. The CoG and “danger of tipping” has to do with where the weight is positioned, not solely the height of the CoG. See: roll center. Additionally, the contact patch at the rear of the DeltaWing, relative to the front, ensures that the front doesn’t break traction before the rears, which is the problem with the conventional trikes you mention, above, and which still has not a thing to do with the Reliant.

      • protomech

        The near-production Aptera is/was FWD. Other reverse trikes like Can-Am, T-Rex are RWD.

        True enough about CoG not being the only factor. However:

        Standard trike is not terribly stable under extreme braking and cornering – or at least that’s true for the Robin and many standard motorcycle trike
        conversions. Delta Wing is not a great counter-example because of the low CoG (and weight placement), low minimum turn radius on a racetrack, and it still has two front tires to give more grip under braking.

        • Mark Penrice

          The two front tyres also contribute a lot to stability – I presume, for a start, they’re independently sprung, and so there’s at least some effect of one weighting up under cornering whilst the other lifts somewhat, rather than the forces tipping towards (and then rapidly off) the sides of a single tyre, even quite a thick one. They could well be able to camber inwards a little, again the opposite of how a single tyre works. Consider the case of the Piaggio MP3.

          In this case with the very low CoG, centred close to the back wheels, that may be enough to ensure that the forces never mount up enough to “tip” the thing off its inside rear wheel in a corner, and over onto its outside front chassis sill… which is what your typical single-front model would do.

          The DW is not a trike, it’s a quad with an unusually narrow front axle. Also, much of the weight is around or behind the driver, like a Harley or VW Bug trike, which helps keep it from being thrown forward as much when braking (so more like a Segway with a front stabiliser/guiding wheel, or a simplified locomotive) … the more traditional roadgoing single-front enclosed trikes have a front engine design, and often four seats plus some luggage space at the back, which is generally left empty, so they have a very much foward-focussed CoG and are just a disaster waiting to happen.

          • Peter G.

            They are independently sprung, in fact, the hardware is sitting out there in the open where you can examine it every time you hop in for a ride. This means that mods like stiffer springs are almost trivial to apply.

          • Mark Penrice

            Eh … I’d say no more so than with any other FWD car. You don’t usually have to remove the wings to access the suspension kit on those, either, and you will still have to deal with the driveshafts, steering gear etc on the Elio… If it was actually RWD then it might be slightly easier.

            However, I think I might actually have been referring to the Deltawing, anyway ;) (it’s been 8 months, the ambiguosity of my writing even has me uncertain)

  • Dax

    Unbelievably incompetent writing! Do your research! No one is going to be required to wear a helmet INSIDE the car in those states! Also, two wheels in front is FAR more stable than trailing 2 wheels behind, especially on cornering… but of course you knew that because you’re an expert, right? RIGHT? Is the CanAm Spyder “vaporware?” Is the Piaggio MP3 “vaporware”? Wow, just wow.

    • Jo Borras

      1. yes, they will – motorcycle laws in most states make no exception for enclosed bikes.

      2. no, 2 wheels in front is not more stable, inherently. I am going to guess that you have very little experience designing/building racecars and/or setting up their chassis. What you are referring to is a front grip bias that is usually caused by placing more weight on the front of a vehicle. As for motorcycle based trikes, the front wheel tends to break traction due to the ratio of contact patch to mass and lateral loads across the surface of the tire … but you know that, because you – what, exactly?

      3. I don’t think you know what vaporware means – but thanks for adding pageviews to my count!


      • azapplewhite

        Jo, did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed today? An Op-ed is just that, an opinion. I have no issue with your skepticism that Elio’s vehicle will be viable, but what’s with the “I’m right and everyone else is wrong attitude”?? You might select a different geometry for your 3-wheeled vehicle, but I’ll bet the geometry they selected will be adequate for the intended use.

        Are you really an expert in motor vehicle legislation in all 50 states? California passed a helmet exemption for enclosed vehicles almost 2 decades ago, reference vehicle code 27803, item f):

        A whole lot less attitude and a least a little more knowledge would be appreciated. Being critical is fine, but what purpose do you serve by being nasty?

        • Jo Borras

          I’m not sure you know how opinions work. They sort of fall outside of right and wrong, which is why the factual issues of chassis design and helmet laws are drawing the most heat in the comments. My opinion that this “car” is stupid and will never work is just that: my opinion. I think the readers, to their credit, are focusing on the correct things that they should focus on … and, in the case of people mentioning the “reverse trikes” like TRex and CanAms, I’m trying to point out that, while those things sell, they don’t “work” in the sense that they don’t grip, turn, or accelerate as well as a comparable 4 or 2 wheeler, while the DeltaWing goes around the problems “solved” by reversing the trikes’ wheel configuration.

          To be clear: the Elio is stupid = my opinion.

          Most of the people defending the Elio’s design haven’t read “chassis engineering” = fact.

          • Mark Penrice

            You quite clearly have seen a picture of the Deltawing, but not actually read much about it. For a start, it’s unique design was a result of trying to reduce drag and frontal area to the absolute minimum. They didn’t set out to make “a trike” only to find that putting the wheel at the back was a rubbish idea. It’s not even actually a 3-wheeler. Basically, it’s a modified top fuel dragster that’s been declared legal to use on a normal raceway.

            Do a wide ranging survey of all 3-wheeled enclosed vehicles and tell me how many out of 1 front/2 rear and 2 front/1 rear appear to be a/ custom bike-based cruisers built for looks or for someone with a disability that means they can’t keep the thing upright or themselves in the saddle without assistance, b/ legislation-bending (both for rules and taxation etc) super-economy vehicles which sacrifice dynamics and safety in the interest of motorising the masses at bare minimum cost and with reduced licensing requirements (it used to, at least, be a lot easier to get a bike license than a car one) – including the lighter, cheaper electrics that are golf buggies in all but name, c/ high-performance machines either based on electric motors (with a drag and weight reducing teardrop shape) or explicitly around fossil-powered motorcycles at one end or the other.

            I think you’ll find that amongst classes a/ and b/, the wheel-at-front paradigm dominates, because that’s the easiest and cheapest way to make such a thing, and it’s often the most efficient when it comes to use of interior space. But in class c/, which is the one most relevant here, the reverse is true.

            Why is that? It’s because of the fact – not opinion – that for an enclosed vehicle without reactive weight distribution*, having a wider, double track at the front and a _very_ narrow (moreso than the DW) or single track at the rear is more stable than the reverse. It corners better, it brakes better, and it certainly doesn’t tip over anywhere near as much if you brake whilst cornering. It’s all a matter of having suitable support points for the forces it’s likely to encounter whilst travelling in a particular range of speeds in a particular direction (ie up to highway speeds forwards, but only upto maybe 5-10mph backwards). You can test it for yourself with lego bricks. Take one of the larger plates, about twice as long as it is wide (to simulate a smallish vehicle, maybe 3m long x 1.5m wide up to 4x2m). Use 4 or 5 layers of 4×4 bricks to make “legs”, two at either corner of a short edge, one in the middle of the other one. Place it on a tabletop and push it from various directions and see how easily it tips depending on where you push it, and envisage how a road vehicle may end up encountering those particular forces.

            Tipping forwards and to the side is much more critical than doing so backwards … if you tip enough whilst accelerating and steering to actually lose traction or contact on one or more wheels, you will also lose steering and/or acceleration force and thus the system will tend to fall back into balance, and then fully restabilise when you ease off a little in response. Accelerating hard, especially hard enough to upset a vehicle’s balance, is often a wholly optional, elective thing. And depending on your engine power and whether the thing is rear or front-wheel drive, you might not ever get into that situation.

            If you tip in a similar matter whilst braking – often NOT an optional thing, especially if you’re in a situation that requires you to brake pretty hard (and ditto steering sharply to one side or the other) – the most likely upshot is that the system is already badly out of balance and it’s all positive, not negative feedback from here on out. IE no matter what you do, it’s going to continue decelerating and tilting, probably worse than it already is. If it’s RWD with a non-locking diff, you’ve no hope to use the engine power to put it back on all three wheels, as you’ll merely spin the raised wheel (brakes can operate independently on all wheels and it doesn’t affect how the others operate if one or more of them lock up; engine power is usually only applied to one axle, and then mostly to whichever wheel offers least resistance) … all you can do is let off the brake and counter-steer, and hope that it regains balance before your corrective actions lead to you crashing into whatever you were steering/braking to avoid anyway.

            With the most likely directions of tilt facing the direction of travel, all your main hazards lie in front of you, and you rush towards them. If they face away from it, your main risk factors are A/ yourself, B/ things coming from the side or from behind.

            Brakes are almost always stronger than engines, and the engine takes effect starting from a stationary vehicle (which is unlikely to spontaneously fall over), tending towards its maximum speed, with the strongest forces being applied at the lowest speeds. Brakes are only used whilst you’re already moving, usually at high speed, can apply maximum force at maximum speed and then maintain it all the way down to a stop. If you find you can’t effectively apply engine power, well, you either won’t move, or will only be able to move quite slowly; the variety of situations in which that is a risk factor rather than merely an inconvenience are pretty small, and mainly occur in low speed situations (leaping into gaps in city traffic etc). If you find you can’t effectively apply braking force… that’s something of a more major issue.

            Sure, opinions are like assholes, everyone has them, and they smell. The problem with your argument is that, at least initially, you were confusing your own opinions for the truth, and even trying to shout down us naysayers by claiming superior engineering knowledge. If this is the extent of what you’ve actually learned and what you apply to automotive engineering, I don’t want to ride in anything you’ve helped build.

            It’s fine to disagree about something, especially when you’re speculating about a fuzzy and unknowable future. It’s when you start trying to claim that black is white in the face of people holding a colour swatch with a high reflective index with the word “white” written on it that things turn sour.

            * footnote: in the spirit of what I wrote in that last paragraph, I wrongly claimed the Carver as a 2 front / 1 rear trike in another of my posts. This was wrong … it’s the other way around… HOWEVER that vehicle is itself unique in having a partially tilting body that, in effect, allows bike-based-trike dyamics to come into play in an enclosed single-front-wheeler, without the driver needing to weigh 400lbs and be experienced in literally throwing their weight around. Reviews of it tend to highlight this fact and point out how it makes the thing far, far more stable and responsive than most rigid-body examples of the body plan. As far as I know, no-one else makes anything like it, and thus it remains a single nicely-handling snowflake inamongst a blizzard of nightmare examples.

          • Okay

            I have driven both types of three wheelers. I much rather the rear-end slide around than the front end tipping over. That why the four-wheeler atv started to out sell the the old three-wheeler atv.

          • Wayne King

            The old three-wheel ATV’s were seriously dangerous. The problem was that they had a very short wheelbase and a very high center of gravity. They were much like a traditional tricycle.

            An example of a stable 1F2R is a kid’s big-wheel trike. It’s stable for the same reason that the Delta-Wing is stable. The center of gravity is low and bulk of the mass is concentrated on the end with two wheels.

            Either a single front or single rear wheel configuration can be stable as long as the CG is low and the mass is concentrated on the end that has two wheels.

            Jo, You need to base your opinions on more than just one book. When you really do some in depth research – you’ll find that you’ve made a big ass of yourself. Stop digging a deeper hole.

          • J

            Hey jo where is your smart ass come back for this one? Anyone else notice how he only replies to certain comments? Mark, your comment was more informative and enjoyable to read than the original article. Maybe you should take the job of jo. Hopefully he hasnt replied because he lost his job on this site.

          • Jo Borras

            Hi, J. Turns out, I don’t hang around year old blog posts answering every wingnut, armchair engineer with Legos’ points unless someone emails them to me with a clever “LOL” attached.

            Mark makes some good points, but he’s mistaking public acceptance of a given concept with objective superiority. Short of him building one car and me building another and racing them, there’s not much to go on here. He believes he’s right, his evidence is circumstantial (though he doesn’t see that), and clowns like you egg him on.

            So, yeah. Thanks for the extra pageviews. Enjoy getting fleeced out if your deposit. :)

          • Mark Penrice

            Cheers J :)

            Interestingly, since writing that, three-wheeled scooters have started to become a growing trend in the city motorcycle market. I was following behind one this morning on the way to work. Guess which end they put the extra wheel?

            (Hint: Google for Piaggio MP3. Then look up its main rivals.)

          • Al R

            The T-Rex corners at 1.17 g’s…try THAT on conventional Harley trike!….you have NO clue what you are even talking about!….Try being informed before being opinionated, it makes you look far less foolish!

          • Jo Borras

            1.17 g on a skid pad isn’t that impressive when you look at mass/contact patch. The Trex is worse than the Elio, IMO.

          • Greg Price

            So blipping what, Jo? It’s not intended to be a performance vehicle. It’s a commuter vehicle.

          • Jo Borras

            This is the best point anyone on here has made. You’re right: this is not a vehicle for people who know or care about cars.

          • mrfancypants

            Most people haven’t read “chassis engineering” = fact…

          • hahahahah

            Jo…opinions are like assholes…everybody has one….and you don’t need two!

            Good luckM

          • Chris Emge

            To be clear: your opinion = jack shit.

          • BarttheCat

            Elio did not design their vehicle to take on the Nürburgring. It’s purpose is efficiency and as azapplewhite stated, “the geometry they (Elio) selected, will be adequate for the intended use”.

      • travis gintz

        1) Wrong, wrong, wrong….. I looked up the laws in several states and Oregon,California, Nevada, Texas, Washington, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio (maybe more, I stopped after a while). All of those states have EXEMPTIONS for 3-wheeled enclosed vehicles.

        • DAVID BROWER

          NC TOO .




        • usck

          Without talking to the DA or Alabama DMV you don’t have to have a helmet in an enclosed motorcycle. You can take Alabama off your map. Along with the others with your lack of research. At least you started a discussion even though i hope you don’t get payed for your reports

      • Chrystopher Pérez

        This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and for him to be proud that the only attention it’s getting is disagreement based on fact and law, is just sad.

        • Guest

          He or a friend/relative probably is employed by a competitor!












        • Mark Penrice

          ^ Putting what I tried to explain in a couple thousand words far more succinctly in a couple hundred, and with the backup of experience to boot :D

      • Mike

        Your article is poorly written and without proper research!

      • Mark Penrice

        Re: no2.

        OK, a challenge. Take one of these, and something that’s otherwise a direct rival but has one wheel at the front and two in the back, and chuck them around a racetrack, a nice technical one with plenty of tight-ish corners including some you have to trail-brake into down a hill. Compare the times you get back off each…

        …once you’ve extracted the one-front-wheel model from the tyre barrier, put it back the right way up, found a new driver, dispatched the original one to hospital, done any necessary mechanical repairs, picked all the graveltrap debris out of the bodywork, and welded on a couple of stabilising outrunners, that is.

        Trikes with one front wheel are accidents waiting to happen unless driven very conservatively. And even then, you can’t predict when some unforseen event may make you swerve.

        (Actual bike-based ones are an exception, as they tend to be custom-built cruisers with dynamics somewhere closer to a bike with a sidecar, than a full car – most particularly, the rider can prevent it tipping over “the wrong way” in a bend by shifting their weight, which is far less influential in a heavy, enclosed vehicle – even a lightweight “car” like this. All the same, you very rarely see 3-wheel ATVs any more; the only thing which even vaguely counts might be a two-skids-and-a-halftrack snowmobile, and that has the single-track part at the rear as well. Actual trikes have long since been replaced by quads as there was just no point to them; using a single wheel wasn’t so much cheaper, but it was a lot more dangerous)

      • cookie

        ” As for motorcycle based trikes, the front wheel tends to break traction due to the ratio of contact patch to mass and lateral loads across the surface of the tire”

        So.. ‘a single wheel at the front trike’ will lose traction BEFORE a ‘two wheel at the front’, due to less contact patch, assuming the lateral loads are the same. Yep, that seems soo much more stable…. O_o

      • Will

        The Elio is also going to be coming with anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control….

      • olmon

        I’m not going to guess. I’m just going to come right out and say that you very definitely are lacking both experience and expertise in designing/building racing vehicles that can win. You may have seen & talked to people that have done it, but it is very obvious from your comments that it wasn’t you doing it.

      • HiramJahoovafatsBigUncle

        Try again, Jo, regarding chassis stability; 2 wheels in front/1 rear is much more stable. The experts know better than a hip-hop journalist like yourself. I’ll challenge your chassis building & setup experience – you’ve been called out here – what Engineering background do you supposedly possess?

        Conjecture & speculative writing on the Interwebs does not qualify you as being an ‘expert’ on chassis dynamics.

      • Joshua Brandon Minor

        Jo do you even know what your talking about exactly? What the fuck is a front wheel drive vehicle? You take being a retard to the next level lol…

      • guest

        You might want to get your facts straight. Currently only FIVE states require helmets for this autocycle (NOT motorcycle) and it is reasonable that by the time of production, those 5 states as well as DOT at the federal level will have removed the helmet requirement.

      • RIMSPOKE

        JOE , JOE , JOE .



      • Wayne King

        California’s exemption in the code – V C Section 27803 Safety Helmets Required – is worded: “(f) This section does not apply to a person operating, or riding as a passenger in, a fully enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicle that is not less than seven feet in length and not less than four feet in width, and has an unladen weight of 900 pounds or more, if the vehicle meets or exceeds all of the requirements of this code, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and the rules and regulations adopted by the United States Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

  • Tim Cleland

    I’ll take the other side. I think even in the states with the strictest helmet laws, the police will not stop drivers of Elios for not wearing helmets. Police may not even realize that they are motorcycles. Potential buyers will make that same bet.

    The “hassle” of getting the motorcycle license is muted somewhat by the fact that you will be able to take the test in the Elio. Still, dealing with the DMV at all is a hassle, I’ll give you that.

    I have no experience with motorcycle insurance, but I’m guessing, like insuring a V8 Camaro (VERY expensive for teens and early twenty-somethings…trivially more expensive for everyone else), it will not be that much of a deterrent.

    I maintain that if Elio can come close to the $6800 delivery price, this car will sell. Even for families, that price is cheap enough to be used as a second or third car exclusively for commuting to work. The novel look and attraction of 80+ mpg (whether real world achievable or not) will find buyers.

    • Jo Borras

      In Texas and California I had to test with their Honda 250 cc Nighthawks. This was well over a decade ago, granted, but I don’t think the “you can take your test in ___” applies here.

      That said, assume that customers will take the chance for giggles AND that people will be able to take the test … will dealers be allowed to sell a motorcycle to an unlicensed buyer? Not all states allow that grace period.

      • Tyler

        I don’t believe there is a problem with selling anything to an unlicensed person. A Can-Am Spyder is the same thing and doesn’t require a motorcycle license (hence why they are everywhere down here in Texas).

        As far as insurance, I’m 25 and have a 600cc sport bike (by far the most expensive motorcycle to insure) and my insurance is only $250 a year.

        • Guest

          Motorcycle insurance is normally FAR less than automobile insurance. And the cost for repair, replacement is much lower, thus reducing further the cost of the insurance. (Sold insurance for 13 years)

      • Chrystopher Pérez

        In California here:

        In California you can use your choice of motorcycle. So as for “you can take your test in ___” is not a deterrent.

        Insurance= $300 approx.

        • Peter G.

          The only problem in CA will be the Elio owners who try to lane split.

      • Craig A Bingham

        Do some research rather that baldly stating what you believe to be true. A vast majority of states exempt vehicles like the Elio from helmet laws.

        • Al R

          most states say if it has a built in rollbar system it doesn’t require a helmet

      • Kurt Klein

        A lot of states allow you to take a $150.00 weekend course to get your motorcycle license. Once you complete the course they give you a certificate you can take to the DMV and simply get a new license after you take the written exam. The motorcycle licensing isn’t that tough.
        From an insurance point I insure a Vegas and a superglide full, comp, coverage and it’s about $600/year.
        Think it through a second. In 1984/85 Honda produced the CRX that got 51mpg. The engineering exists. The problem was that few were really interested in buying a car that got 51mpg when gas was 91 cents/gal. I think Elio is going to do quite well.

        • olmon

          I had a CRX for awhile. Fun little car, It was not only economical but also handled like a go-cart. I have a Suzuki Swift right now which is almost as economical, but it sure doesn’t handle like the Honda, in fact, it is the worst handling car I have ever owned.

        • HiramJahoovafatsBigUncle

          Elio is nothing more than smoke & mirrors…

    • alan

      The insurance on my 1100cc (1.1L) Honda shadow was 125 dollars every 6 months. Motorcycles are cheap to insure, not more expensive.

  • Austin

    I’m one of the over 18,000 (so far) that disagree.

    • Jo Borras

      If all 18000 of you buy one of these, they might have a chance!

      • Randall Burns

        They got 18000 deposits/pledges with no real vehicle to sell. If they can get into production, this will snowball.

        Americans want real vehicles-not the retro stuff the big 3 push.

  • JML

    I have a drivers license and a motorcycle license, so for someone like me, it would be no big deal. Motorcycle insurance is much cheaper than auto, so that would be a benefit. I’m excited about this product, but if the operator is required to wear a helmet, I agree that it will significantly reduce their market for potential customers.

    • Jo Borras

      As long as your health insurance doesn’t classify riding a motorcycle as dangerous behavior (some do), then I am 100% with you … except that I’d just ride a motorcycle like I do today.

      • Brent

        I’ll be buying one, without doubt. I am also a motorcyclist, but I will not be wearing a helmet in the Elio. I live in NC.

  • Doug B

    Quite possibly no helmet required, because there is one already attached to the wheels, your just sitting inside the helmet.
    Will be interesting to see how far this gets.

    • Jo Borras

      Peraves, AutoMoto, and BMW (with their C1) all made the argument to the DOT, and got nowhere.

      • travis gintz

        Oregon,California, Nevada, Texas, Washington, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio (maybe more, I stopped after a while). All of those states have EXEMPTIONS for 3-wheeled enclosed vehicles.

  • travis gintz

    The part where you mention having to wear a helmet inside a 3-wheeler and requiring an endorsement…. is lacking in actual fact.
    Many states don’t require you to wear a helmet if you’re in an enclosed motorcycle. Take Oregon for example, you’re exempt if “Within an enclosed cab” ORS 814.290. They also don’t require you to have a Motorcycle endorsement to drive one, although some states require a separate 3-wheel endorsement. Same goes for California, Nevada, Texas, Washington, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio….
    Might try actually researching next time… that’s what real reporters do.

  • Nobama is Goodbama

    If that is the price and mpg perfermance.
    I’d take one in a New York minute.

  • Fred Anderson

    there are many reasons why three wheelers are better. Whoever wrote this article is biased and ignorant and I won’t wast my time trying to enlighten him. The Elio may very well make it. I hope so, I want one.

    • Jo Borras

      There are hundreds of reasons why 3 wheelers are better … Which have nothing to do with this vehicle, IMO.

  • t_

    Hi Jo,

    I think, we should support them, at least in words. This is quite a good choice, they say, they’ll give to consumers: a car – like experience, a motorcycle – like handling, meneuvering and MPG. And at a motorcycle – like price.

    • Jo Borras

      They can’t deliver motorcycle like handling and maneuvering in a trike. If THAT is what they’re promising then they’re con men.

      • t_

        Jo, the point is, that this product utilises some of their advantages, if only relatively and pretends to have a good price, and good MPG rating. It will always be a compromise for both car of bike users. But it just might find a niche full of people, who would like to have a cage around them, no rain, to burn a little amount of fuel and pay not much. This, of course, if everything they pretend is actually real. In my opinion, the price will be the most important argument here. Will it be cheap enough, that some people guve up theit car to drive this? We’ll see. You might be right.

        • Jo Borras

          I get you. :)

  • Jo Borras

    FIRST OFF – thanks for getting involved and typing so much! Love it! SECOND – I just had the following exchange on FB Chat and thought you’d like to read it …

    ME: What facts? Op-ed piece (number 1), and I am dead-nuts on with regards to chassis/handling comments. As for the helmets, there is no reason (yet) to believe that Elio will be granted that exception. Again, it can be on the books, but when Peraves, BMW, and even Volkswagen ( can’t qualify/get scared off by the hoops required to get in there, what hope does Elio have?

    OTHER GUY: well


    • olmon

      All I can say to that is that is : I’d agree with you, but then all three of us would be wrong.

  • Don

    In the late ’70s I thought only a complete moron would by a big bulky dirt bike with cylinders sticking out the sides. The BMW GS became the best selling motorcycle in the world.

    When I first saw the Spyder I thought it may be bought by a few people with more money than sense to impress there friends with their weird little toy. Now those damn things are everywhere.

    I’m sticking with this one. I like the Elio. I think it’s a great idea, and the car America needs. And if I ever get to test drive one I will probably buy it

    • Jo Borras

      Is it OK if I agree with you and think that only complete morons bought the BMW GS and that only people with more money than sense buy Can-Ams? I mean, look at Harley: they’re the best selling bikes in the world, and I think that’s more of a testatemnt to P.T. Barnum than it is to anyone ever named “Harley”.

      • Timothy Tuck

        I have to wonder out of all of those vehicles you named off, how many of those have you actually driven. I don’t mean around or across a parking lot, I mean actually put some real miles on and even taking on a long distance ride….
        Did you even take all of them for a combined total of 100 miles?

        I have had quite a few bikes over the years but about 4 years ago I bought a spyder. Call it what you want but its the most fun bike I have ever had and quite a bit safer than all of them.

        The only way I can describe how it feels to drive it is its like a modern day version of a chariot. The absolute best and most insane drive I have done on it was about a 12 mile dirt washboard road. No asphalt just a washboard road of dirt and gravel.

        It was in the mountains.

        That was 12 miles of being completely sideways, drifting the whole time. Two wheels to point and steer you where you wanted to go and one that could kick up one hell of a rooster tail of rocks and gravel and no way to have it slide out from underneath you.

        Did take a while to clean it all up and get everything that had loosened up all tightened back up snug afterwards but it was by far the most fun I have ever had on anything with wheels.

      • gwr

        I’m not much on these articles, but thought I would reply and give another opinion.I have a 1500 Intruder I ride , my son has a Harley rocker C, and my with has a can-am after she took a spill on her 1200 low. We have ridden the can-am in the rain in the Tn mountains and went down the Dragon on it. I have the most confidence in the can-am. Oh I’m not rich either. I believe any product to help the public in this time and age would be great. The vehicle is only as safe as the operator.

  • Craig A Bingham

    You should do a little research before you do a hatchet job. Vermont exempts vehicles like the Elio from helmet laws. Yet the chart you use shows Vermont as having a “universal” helmet law. you, and your premise fail. How many other states do? You should have figured this out before putting pen to paper

  • MG

    Amazingly incompetent & hateful article! It sounds like you solicited a kick-back and were refused. You have quite an axe to grind. Why? At a price point hardly more than a Segway, and with this level of mpg, these things will sell very well. So will electric variants. I’ll certainly buy one. FYI: I have a m/c license and with the types of “shorty” helmets HD riders wear, wearing a helmet that feels/looks like a hat is hardly a deterrent. Consider how many people wear bicycle helmets even though often not required.

  • JML

    Louisiana Senate approved exempting 3-wheeled, enclosed vehicles like the Elio from helmet and motorcycle license requirements. Looks like they’re starting off on the right foot overcoming some of the regulatory hurdles that you mention other 800 pound gorillas failed to achieve. I hope you’re wrong and this product comes to fruition.

  • EV Man

    Never been on this site before.
    Read all the comments, and my comment is:
    Jo Borras is a technical idiot.
    and a know-it-all blow-hard.

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  • vtxman

    He must work for one of the big 3! This has always been their way of attempting to shoot down a great idea.

    • Jo Borras

      LOL! I wish.

      • Electrical engineer

        You are a blow hard douche

  • GJPinks

    It may require a helmet/cycle hoops that will depress sales in some states, but IF they can deliver the Elio with A/C, heater, radio and a ride comparable to a smart or Fiat 500 for under $10,000 they will hit 12,000 units like the smart. If they can actually keep it sub $7,600 and can keep up with demand, they will sell at east 25,000 per year.
    There is a huge market for low cost transportation. Can they realy build it and sell it for $6,800 AND make a profit? I don’t know, but I would buy one and I’m 61 years old. Best of luck Elio!

  • obama

    got my first piece of ass on a 3 wheeler she was 90 yrs. old I was 14 yrs old

  • Mark Penrice

    Are you still required to wear a helmet in a 3-wheeled motorcycle that’s fully enclosed like this, with a seatbelt etc? I can forsee there may be some exemptions on the books for those kind of situations, especially in the states marked as “partial law” whatever that means.

    The main protection a bike helmet gives is against the quite considerable impact that can result between your head and the ground when you fall 6+ feet from the saddle under acceleration of gravity, not against hitting something due to your forward momentum (ie it’s a crashmat, not a seat belt or airbag). If you can’t fall out of the seat, and are in fact held into it, and the frame comes between you and the outside world rather than the other way around, why mandate a helmet?

    Surely things like golf carts and other mini service trucks that are allowed at least partial access to public roads would be subject to the same rules otherwise? (OK, most of those aren’t fully enclosed, or have seatbelts, but you still sit inside them, they have a frame you can hang onto in case of emergency, and they don’t tip over if left to their own devices or brought to a sudden halt… and although you CAN roll them, a low/highside topple is unheard of for yer typical 3 or 4 wheeler)

    I’ve seen it happen enough times that a 2-wheeler brings the requirement for a helmet, but for things like quads that’s waived, because you’re so much less likely to be involved in an incident where your head bounces off the pavement, unless it also comes along with the whole weight of the machine crashing down upon you. It’s a little more of a grey area for trikes, but if they’re enclosed I wouldn’t be surprised at the same exemption being in place.

    By the way, two at the front, one at the back is NOT “the wrong way”. It’s a far more stable arrangement than the inverse, beloved of makers of terrible automobiles the world over (the Reliant Robin, Bond Bug, Piaggio Ape, a multitude of Tuk-tuks, Scammell Iron Horse, endless depressing and nasty NEVs, that stupid Air Pod thing… all useful in their way but you wouldn’t describe them as high performance, terribly stable in the bends, or desirable). It works quite nicely for Morgan and Carver, for starters, along with the Piaggio MP3 scooter, and did so for a range of bubble car manufacturers.

    It works in a Big Wheel because that’s essentially a penny farthing with a very wide rear castor, so the dynamics are very different from that of a car. It “works” with the Deltawing because that’s STILL a 4-wheel vehicle, even if the front track is unusually narrow, so when you start to corner it doesn’t immediately start shifting the centre of gravity outside of the front wheel, but – at least for a while – more onto one or other of the TWO fronts. Plus, it’s a very low slung race car with minimal ground clearance and a CoG that’s less than 6 inches off the deck, so the rather wide rear track stops it from tipping over, or even the front wheels ending up losing traction altogether. Maybe they use electronic brake force distribution on the rear wheels to help with steering too, I wouldn’t be surprised. It sure isn’t the direct equivalent of some version of an Elio with an altered wheel arrangement.

    Finally, you want more traction up front than at the rear in general with the machine in a neutral state, just to help with braking and steering. When you accelerate that’ll usually put easily enough force on the back wheel to maintain grip, especially if it’s quite a wide one. I’d rather a bit of slip from the back end when making a fast start, than to be continually fighting brake lock-up and understeer because of only having a single front wheel.

    However, with all that, I’m with you on the “won’t sell many” front. For no other reason than that ventures of this type succeed so rarely you could make a good living as a gambler just blindly betting against the chances of every single one that comes along. Industry does actually follow demand, which is why there still isn’t such a thing as an actual “world car”, and vehicles end up tuned to their target market. If people wanted these in large numbers, some larger business would already be making them. A few eccentric millionaires might put orders in, but unless you’re making serious luxury or high profile revolutionary vehicles you can’t survive restricting yourself to them.

  • mpbowzer

    People always want to try something different in life.That’s Elio,something different. That’s why it will sell, out of curiosity maybe or necessity.

  • Carlos Texas

    Sir with all do respect and giving you the right that you have due to your experience that is in motorsports, THIS IS MARKETING same as any kind of product you think it might not sale or is hazardous, people don’t care, they keep smoking, they keep drinking they keep texting, they have other motorcycles without roof (Can Am Spyder ) I mean the market is open rather than statistics or helmet or whatever, they are doing it whether you give a good or bad review they will have it done by June, 2014

  • shmilace

    2 of your 3 premises were basically “Will not sell because It’s a motorcycle.” One was based on the fact that you think people will not wear helmets in an enclosed vehicle because that’s just not cool. However, most of the people interested in this vehicle are not interested in looking cool. Second was “It’s a hassle to get a moto lic.” Most people interested in this thing are willing to jump through hoops for the cost savings. So, you have all kinds of holes. I think it will succeed (which is why I put down $1k non-refundable) because it covers the 3 areas I consider in a vehicle purchase: 1) cost 2.) safety 3.) cost of ownership. 3-for-3. Bonus considerations: It’s ‘Green,’ and (for better or worse) it looks like nothing else out there. I just got the email from them that said I was the 829th person to put down the $1k non-ref dep. So, I’d say it’s already a success.

    • IWantAnElio

      In Texas, all you need to ride a motorcycle is an ordinary driver’s license.

  • john

    the guy that wrote the above article is an absolute idiot and is why no one listens to or believes the media idiots in this country.

  • Oz

    I hope your wrong and end up with egg on a your I mean a dozen eggs on your face, this guy is at least trying, what have you invented that made a different.

  • cookie

    The author of this article is so very WRONG. To begin with, “tadpole” trikes (2 wheels up front) are inherently MORE stable than “delta” (1 wheel up front) trikes:

    Since the tadpole versions has a wider track at the front, the front end can resist higher lateral forces during cornering before losing traction. With the mass of the engine located over these wheels -unlike the lightly loaded front end of most delta’s- a higher value of lateral force can be achieved before loosing traction. Using the specifically designed a-arms and (presumable) anti-roll bars, a tadpole’s handling can mimic that of a fwd car.

    As for the rear ends, well.. a delta may have more mass over the rear end helping provide traction, but none of that helps during cornering, think of it as an porsche 911, all that mass in the rear, very light front, understeer. A tadpole however, uses the rear wheel purely to keep the ass end off the ground – and with careful placement and suspension geometry, a properly configured tadpole’ can be as stable as a normal 4 wheeled vehicle, even during hard cornering. Yes, a tadpole can induce oversteer, but due to it being so similar to a 4 wheeled FWD, anyone with more than a basic understanding of vehicle dynamics knows that the oversteer could be almost eliminated by suspension and whee hub values until traction loss is more progressive and controllable. Whereas a delta’s understeer is harder to correct, due to its single front wheel being subjected to unusually large forces during combined braking AND cornering – surpassing the traction limit of the tyre. (Simply put, two wheels up front = better cornering)

    Combine this with being FWD – 2 wheels putting power down instead of 1, and having more mass over the two drive wheels, enables tadpole trikes to have and use more power than delta’s, especially when exiting a corner. Accelerate hard out of a coner with FWD like a tadpole’, and you may loose some traction on the inside wheel for a second until straightening up, but the load trasfer will allow the outside wheel to grip more, and assuming you dont go beyond the traction limit, no big deal. Whether this example is a 4wheeled vehicle or a tadpole, no difference. Do the same on a RWD – like a delta trike, and there is a high possibility of the rear end losing traction – imagine that with only a single front wheel and i can see trouble.

    Now to braking, again tadpole versions will ALWAYS outbrake delta’s, why? Simple – weight transfer. When you brake there is a force – the vehicle’ mass – transferred towards the front of the vehicle. The more traction you have available at the front the harder and quicker you can brake. Dont believe me? Look at stunt motorcycles pulling ‘stoppies’, thats 100% braking force on the FRONT of the vehicle, look at a normal car – around 60-70% of the braking is by the FRONT wheels. Look at normal motorcycles – most riders know the front brake does most of the braking – see above ‘stoppie’ example. Two wheels up front provides more traction than 1, thus allowing more weight transfer during braking, therefore better braking potential.

    Oh, not to mention the tadpole version allows for tried and true ackerman steering geometry, thus allowing for a steering wheel to be used as opposed to handlebars, more akin to a car than a bike. This opens up the vehicle to those who have never ridden before = more sales potential.

    The 84mpg is plausible, with an economical engine, the correct areodynamics on the bodywork, it is possible. The cost for insurance? Im gunna guess it will be between a car and a bike for cost. Wow, what a shocker that is..
    The helmet issue im not even going to bother going into (Different rules for you in the US as opposed to me in the UK), but suffice to say i bet you wouldnt have to wear on in that.

    (BTW, im a qualified Motorsport technician, self trained mechanic, and tadpole trike fanatic.. so i know how much BS and bias opinion your article was. Next time, use more FACTS and less CRAP)

  • Dave W.

    Jo, sorry but you are mistaken about the stability of a vehicle that has 2 wheels in front. It’s called “TORSIONAL RESISTANCE” A vehicle with 2 wheels in front, doesn’t know if it has 1, 2 or 10 wheels in back. Also it widens the roll axis out to the center of the front wheels. Pitch the ELIO into a tight corner and the back wheel will lose traction before the vehicle rolls. As long as you keep the weight of the vehicle in the triangle formed by the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheel. Also the height is low enough, where it isn’t a concern. Read Walter Korff’s book “DESIGING TOMORROWS CARS” old book, but principles still apply.

  • Derek robleto

    If elio doesn’t make it, it’s because Americans are too ignorant and brainwashed by advertising to see how logical it is to drive one. “You might have to wear a helmet in it” so what? People wear stupid things all the time. I believe in elio. I love the idea of having to pay less to get where I want to go. I’m telling you, if you believe in substance over style, then help them out and spread the word on this great idea.

    • Jo Borras

      You’re talking about “logic” in reference to a country where 80% of grown-a** adults believe in angels. LOL!!

      As for Elio being logical – no, it’s quite stupid.

      • lucasb

        wow…you’re a douche

      • jimmycu

        The writer of the Elio critique is what I refer to as a “smart idiot”. The case laid out for Elio’s impending doom is a week attempt at persuasion from someone who probably doesn’t get out much. The question about helmet will prove itself, so no sense in debating that here. The question of stability? If you ever find yourself attempting a “physics” presentation to a consumer, rest assured you know little or nothing about consumers. The point that this is a motorcycle? Yes, it is exactly what I always wanted, a motorcycle that I could ride in comfort in any wheather, thank you! The question about insurance, well, if I was going to ride a motorcycle anyway, what’s the difference? The fact that its not associated with a big auto maker? Again, so what? I remember the first Kia I saw, the first Hyundai, I’m even old enough to remember seeing my first Honda. Based on the writer’s argument, I guess the he would have predicted those as failures also since they weren’t “big players”. So is the writer trying to convince us that this vehicle will never become “main-stream? The fact is, this is not a main-stream vehicle; but neither is a Harley. It will have its niche market because it is an ideal solution for some, the price tag and the gas mileage make it a practical solution for young urbanites who would be inclined to consider a motorcycle for “point A to point B” transportation. Rather than persuading us, the writer only leaves us suspicious of an ulterior motive and forfeits his credibility. That is why he is getting so much “push back” from others. Simple solution, next time, lay out a better argument.

  • puggsley

    First on this! Jo I’m a little “bored” with you in other words to me you’re a bore ass! I plan on buying the elio and driving it into my toy hauler, then the wife and I will use it to tour the country!

  • Mike

    Case in point, the T. rex motorcycle, see one every now and then, riders never wear a helmet

  • Jess C.
  • BP

    Source: Detroit news? I guess Elio started to bother Detroit

  • Shut up stupid

    The person that wrote this article must have some serious money invested in oil, and probably doesn’t care much for electric cars either. Owners of motorcycles like myself don’t pay higher auto insurance because of it. We pay more because of negative thinking people like you. I would buy two of them just to piss you off. See you on the road without my helmet.

  • LogicalOne

    An air conditioned, enclosed, high mpg, inexpensive vehicle.
    Why wouldn’t you want one? Sounds to me like you’re on GM’s or Ford’s payroll.

    • Thomas J.Stratford

      “An air conditioned, enclosed, high mpg, inexpensive vehicle.” For only $6,800???!!!!! I want a pink unicorn too, and that’s not going to happen either. The whole project is a scam.

  • Haywood Jablomi

    Sooooooooooooooooooo……what car company are you shilling for to screw Elio and the rest of America….I’m guessing Toyota….screw you.

    • Jo Borras

      You are such an idiot …

      • Greg Price

        I’d say he’s got you pegged pretty good myself…

    • jimmycu

      The writer of the Elio critique is what I refer to as a “smart idiot”. The case laid out for Elio’s impending doom is a week attempt at persuasion from someone who probably doesn’t get out much. The question about helmet will prove itself, so no sense in debating that here. The question of stability? If you ever find yourself attempting a “physics” presentation to a consumer, rest assured you know little or nothing about consumers. The point that this is a motorcycle? Yes, it is exactly what I always wanted, a motorcycle that I could ride in comfort in any wheather, thank you! The question about insurance, well, if I was going to ride a motorcycle anyway, what’s the difference? The fact that its not associated with a big auto maker? Again, so what? I remember the first Kia I saw, the first Hyundai, I’m even old enough to remember seeing my first Honda. Based on the writer’s argument, I guess the he would have predicted those as failures also since they weren’t “big players”. So is the writer trying to convince us that this vehicle will never become “main-stream? The fact is, this is not a main-stream vehicle; but neither is a Harley. It will have its niche market because it is an ideal solution for some, the price tag and the gas mileage make it a practical solution for young urbanites who would be inclined to consider a motorcycle for “point A to point B” transportation. Rather than persuading us, the writer only leaves us suspicious of an ulterior motive and forfeits his credibility. That is why he is getting so much “push back” from others. Simple solution, next time, lay out a better argument.

  • dest

    In California you do not need a Motorcycle License to ride/drive a 3 wheeler.

  • dest

    In California you do not need to wear a helmet in an enclosed 3 wheeler like this one. Do not need a motorcycle license or listen to the guy that wrote this. He does not fact check his thoughts. Maybe this company won’t make it, but, not for this reason. I want one!

  • Bob

    I drove a Trihawk quite a bit back in the mid 80′s. The Trihawk has the same wheel configuration as the Elio, that being two in front, one in the rear and most importantly the two front wheels are the drive wheels along with the engine in front. The Trihawk was extremely stable. It seemed more stable than any 4 wheel car out there.

  • Mike from Shreveport

    The cost of insuring a motorcycle is, in fact, FAR LESS than that of insuring a car. Incredibly less! So that’s a positive, and not a negative. (The reason being, in a wreck, you’re far less likely to make a claim if you ride a motorcycle, because you’ll be dead.)

    There are no significant hassles involved in getting a motorcycle–not any more than driving a car. In fact, all I did when I first got a motorcycle license is drive around a parking lot while someone watched, then they said, “okay, you passed.” Maybe there was a short written test the first time, I don’t remember. After that you just pay a few bucks to keep it active when you renew your license. Not a big deal. (This is in Louisiana.) Elio claims in their FAQ that,

    “Most states do not require a motorcycle license to operate the vehicle, a regular driver’s license is usually enough. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to be sure.”

    For that price, I’d get one just to have as an extra family vehicle.

  • GJPinks

    It’s cleared for use in Kansas. The author is an uneducated tool. And not in the useful way.

  • cdq14

    you can take a motorcycle test on a can am im sure youll be able to take it on the elio as well… on this point u r def 100% wrong!!!!

  • cdq14

    and also if u live in fl like i do and u drive less than an avg of 35 miles per day u get ins dirt cheap.. i think in any state like fl this vehicle will do very well..

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  • Twilliams

    Don’t be so sure of another American failure.

    I am a 64 year old retired director of a fortune 100 corporation. Since retirement, I have ridden a motorcycle to every state in the USA, Mexico, and all of the Provinces and Territories of Canada many times. I have ridden my motorcycle to Alaska six times, so far. Although I am concerned with their extremely low initial price (my motorcycle costs three times this price), I have
    placed my order for one. If they make one for me, I will test it on a trip to Alaska and back.

    So far as your comment on the DeltaWing design, you are absolutely incorrect as it applies to a street ready ultralight vehicle. I am experienced with riding three wheel motorcycles of both types. The dual front wheel design is far more stable than the rear wheel design. I speak from extreme road experience. Ask the engineers at Polaris why they do not agree with you.

    If their price point works at startup, there is definitely an initial niche market available. Initial production of a niche product is likely a market entry strategy only. With all of the gross government barriers to entry, start up companies must be creative. I do hope that this is not another of the many
    “startup automobile companies” that never intend to actually build anything, as we have seen from the Chinese entrepreneurs. I hope that you are wrong and this
    will help restart our dead economy. But, you have some good reasons to be filled with doubt. I, for one, am betting on the American spirit and ingunity.

  • Diz

    Sorry, Jo, but your “arguments” against the success of the Elio have pretty much convinced me to buy one.

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  • Shannon du Plessis

    Well I want one! And since this article is devoid of facts, here are some facts for those of us in Texas. Texas exempts the Elio and we can drive one with our existing license. I saw the following on Missy Braxton’s FB page, then called myself to confirm.

    I contacted the Texas Department of Public Safety, which handles drivers licenses in the state, and their response:

    “Our customer service representative Ms. Hodge asked our office for a
    response to your question below regarding the elio, 3 wheel vehicle
    manufactured in Louisiana.
    After looking at our Transportation Code,
    the short version answer to your question, yes, you will be able to
    drive this vehicle with your existing Texas driver license. You will
    not be required to have a motorcycle endorsement to operate this “lesser
    type of vehicle” defined in Trans. Code Section 521.085. This is the
    statute that lists this vehicle as an exception to Trans. Code Section
    521.002 (6-a) definition of a motorcycle for drivers license
    requirements. Trans. Code Section 661.001 defines a motorcycle for
    protective headgear requirements and is says that a helmet is NOT
    required because it is equipped with a cab or occupant compartment, seat
    and seat belt and is designed to contain the operator in the cab or
    occupant compartment.

    The definition of a motorcycle for
    registration purposes is defined in Trans. Code Section 502.001 #(12).
    This vehicle meets the requirement to be registered as a motorcycle
    under Texas law.

    Because of the 521.085 exception to driver
    license law, you do NOT have to have a motorcycle endorsement for this
    particular vehicle.
    I hope this has answered your questions regarding the Elio motor vehicle.

    Major Bob Bailey
    Texas Highway Patrol
    Austin, Texas Headquarters

  • Joe

    An unbelievable and short sighted review. If this company fails it will not be for any of the reasons you state, it will be because they can not deliver a quality vehicle to the market they intend for the price they state. Your motorcycle-centric arguments views laws as intractable. The law is a piece of paper and paper can be shredded and re-written to accommodate common sense, as perhaps your review will be.

    • Thomas J.Stratford

      The company will fail because these vehicles cannot sell for $1000 LESS than a Honda 700 CC motorcycle, and still provide a profit. I smell a scam!

  • James E. Barnes Jr.

    You SERIOUSLY need to do more research on licencing, and insuring motorcycles, and registering 3 wheel vehicles with roll cages.
    Your ENTIRE “opinion” seems to be terribly misinformed to the point of propaganda.
    Almost EVERYTHING in this article is FALSE.

  • Joe Warne

    I think you are all wet. The hassles you site are mole hills. A small all weather motor cycle is what I need for 90% of my driving. I had two different Cushman three wheeled vehicles back in the 60′s, one had two wheel up front the other had two wheels in the rear. They would only do about 50 mph but they were still fun to drive. I think the fun to drive will sale the vehical.

    • Mark Penrice

      Or if the US motor licensing code was more sensibly written, you could have things like the Dacia Sandero with the 0.9 TCe gas or 1.4 turbodiesel engines, a “proper” car taking up roughly as much road space, costing hardly any more, with 5 seats and luggage space… and despite being a bit heavier, still posting almost as good economy figures. Or for those with a bit more cash, the VW Polo or Up!, in Bluemotion guise, which are about as economic post-purchase.

      But it costs so much for European marques to make the necessary changes to meet the US market regs (many of which are in conflict with those of other countries), which they don’t have to do nearly as much as for most other export markets, with some of them actually hampering efficiency, that you’ll never see them because by the time they hit the market they’ll be far more expensive. And that’s before we examine Detroit-protecting import taxes and the like.

      Let’s hope Fiat’s recent completed takeover of GM bears some worthwhile fruit along those lines. Their 0.8 turbo engine shows quite a lot of promise (along the lines of similar units from Renault and Ford), if they can just sort the tuning out so it doesn’t suddenly drink fuel if you do anything other than waft around at low speed.

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  • Romans5.8

    So I found the premise of costs associated with a motorcycle interesting. I ride a motorcycle. My health insurance didn’t go up, and my motorcycle insurance is far less than my car insurance (and I actually have more coverage on the bike, like trip interruption and other things because we travel with our bikes). Will elio succeed? I don’t think so, but the author should’ve done some more research

    When it comes to helmets, there are exceptions to the helmet laws for enclosed motorcycles (which already exist, by the way).

  • olmon

    I’ve been in the ‘business’ a whole lot longer than you have, Jo.
    I’ve been involved in the auto industry and riding motorcycles since the mid
    1960s and that DOES include building prototypes, street rods, pro-streeters, stock-cars and doing considerable road-racing on bikes and in cars. I also was a licensed used car dealer for part of that time.
    How can you consider yourself to be an ‘Expert’ when you don’t even know that
    the Tadpole trike configuration is an inherently stable design (BTW, it won’t be riding on skinny motorcycle tires) but the Delta can only be made stable by having a heavy weight bias to the rear
    wheels? There are Delta designs that handle very well, but it takes a really good design to do it whereas the tadpole design is very forgiving, particularly with the motor up front.
    A Motorcycle insurance policy IS considerably cheaper than a
    policy for an automobile just like all the other commenters have been
    telling you. AND, when taking the riding test, in all the testing I have been aware of , the persons tested on the vehicle they were going to ride/drive.
    Not all, but most states make an exemption for helmet requirements for an enclosed 3 wheeler.
    ‘IF’ the Elio fails, it won’t be for the reasons that you have come up with.
    I foresee a resistance from buyers due to the front & rear seats arrangement VS side by side and the lack of cargo capacity with 2 passengers.
    AND as for your #1 premis that the Elio is a motorcycle, he comes right out and says so on the website, so you are rather redundant.
    This link is for recumbent trikes, but the same design physics apply equally to motorized trikes.

  • Edward

    This idiot obviously isn’t following the news on elios very well. The company is working with numerous states to alleviate the helmet and motorcycle endorsement issues.

  • Tyler1495

    Helmet laws are mostly exempt in vehicles like this. It has been proven with the Campagna t-rex. For me insurance on a car at my age, 19, is $2500 a year whereas a motorcycle is only $400. Meaning for a 1000cc super bike it is still this way cheaper than a car. If the Elio was actually researched properly, you would have read that, yes it is not required to meet a car’s safety standards, but Elio will make it a point to do so. Hence the advertised 5-star crash safety rating that they are predicting from information they got from computer simulations.

  • Brent

    Poeple should know the petroleum companies own most of the automakers… low insurance rates. High mpg overall costs to purchase this is definately going to take off like gang busters……I fore see huge success…. this is something that the american poeple can get behind america won’t let this fail….
    You know the helmet is such a little issue the pros out wsy it

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  • Ste Bunches

    Can you say “Industry shill”, boys and girls? I knew you could!

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  • DHZ

    My teenage son and I drive two hot rod +80 mph electric super scooters for $100/year full coverage. A ZEV LRC and a ZEV T-700, but only $100. Much cheaper than a car.

    I think Elio has a price that cannot leave them room.

    Helmets may be required in some states. But nothing says the helmets have to be Snell / DOT approved. Might be a lot less.

    The motorcycle rules for certification say motorcycle controls. Not car foot brake, not steering wheel, not gas pedal.

  • Michael Muncy

    The only thing I don’t like about this car is the fact that I will be just another one of the millions of Americans driving one, aside from that, count me in for the new “people’s car”.

  • bill glitch

    It will be one of the cars that finds a niche especially at 84 mpg (almost 40mpg better than my Harley). For $6800 and 84 mpg I might even wear a helmet if required

  • josephsmith

    This guy right here! Jo, I don’t know what kind of research standards gas2 or any of the sites you “publish” on have, but your map of helmet laws is about 8 levels higher on the “how much more misleading than Fox News am I” scale. California has extremely strict helmet laws, but it classify’s 3-wheeled “motorcycles” as requiring class C licenses. Nor does it require helmets. If you spent about 19 seconds on google, you’d find a neat little resource that clarifies that only 5 states require helmets, and 12 more have age limits for helmet wearing. Your sweeping, BS assumptions about how this vehicle will be classified, then judging it’s viability based off of the 2nd level of your BS assumptions is really really really poor journalism and thinking in general. The only parts of the country that this kind of technology will appeal are states that aren’t affected by the extremely minimal impact of helmet/licensing requirements. If you look at the states that are typically innovators in supporting this type of technology, you’ll see that almost none are affected by the helmet/licensing requirements for motorcycles. But, that would require you to revise or do quality research in the first place. I don’t know if this trend will be popular, but this article is garbage.

  • Glen Gibellina

    Well, I’m in Florida and would welcome the Elio. At under 7K they should sell out. I for one have been riding motorcycles for over 50 years and if I were going to switch because of my comfort zone on a 2 wheel the Elio would be on my bucket list, oh did I mention us “baby boomers” rank in the millions. The helmet law, states that want the Elio would pass legislation to waive the helmet law. As for the author, involved since 1997, only 15 years hasn’t a clue of what older much, much more experienced bikers would like. Probably owns a pocket rocket.

  • JB

    Jo,the Delta Wing is actually designed backwards because of vehicle dynamics 101, dynamic weight transfer on the front wheels. Don’t think so, watch the video of the Delta Wing rolling over.

  • JB

    The helmet issue, is not even a issue. No one needs to wear a helmet in a Elio.

  • HiramJahoovafatsBigUncle

    Umm… the ‘tadpole’ chassis configuration with 2 wheels front/1 wheel rear is way more stable than 1 wheel in front/2 wheels in back. You are not an automotive chassis stability expert because you started ‘tuning’ fart-can exhaust Hondas in 1997 and think that the X Games & Drifting are ‘motorsports’.

  • gio

    so what! If the problem is wearing a helmet so be it.It’s the same as bikers like me who wear it for safety & looks too.It’s sexy,aggressive,futuristic,modern…don’t focus on those ugly helmets with straps showing like it’s strangling u.Thats for 3rd world & for rookies.There are full helmet($75) with blue tooth,flip ups,with flip up sunglasses,air vents,tinted…etc…etc.Soon in the store will be one with GPS image right on ur helmet visor.Some with digital transmission of the car instruments right there on the visor! Is it not better to lift & stands by a USA products? I paid for Elio even if I loose the money just to help our economy.How many people drive around to work or shopping more than 2 people? maybe 3%.

  • Robert Larson

    The author states that the ‘deltawing’ (2 wheels front, 1 in back) has it backwards. That’s nonsense. A Can Am with the same system is 3 times the vehicle that my Harley trike is, with it’s 2 wheels in the rear. The traditional trike is stupid & scary. Elio has it right.

    • Mark Penrice

      …don’t know what Deltawing YOU’RE thinking of, but the one I, and I presume the author has in mind is the controvertial 4-wheeled track racer with a wide rear wheelbase and a narrow front one, somewhat like a top fuel drag car. Narrow enough in front, in fact, that less observant onlookers may take it as being a 3- wheeler. Definitely NOT “2 in front, 1 at rear”.

    • Thomas J.Stratford

      Well since you’re familiar with the Can Am, surely you know the base price of the Can am is just under $15,000. The car in the video cannot be sold for less than $20,000. The $6,800 price tag should be a warning to consumers to run away!!!

      • Chris Emge

        The way they keep the cost down is that the only thing they are engineering themselves is the chassis. All the other parts are stock parts from manufacturers that they built the design of the chassis around. Low development cost, and a ready supply of standard parts help keep that cost down.

        • Thomas J.Stratford

          Just the engine and tranny alone will cost $4000, let alone the electric windows door locks, the shell, seats, etc, etc…sorry but you’ve been had!

  • Thomas J.Stratford

    The author forgets the main reason this will fail. Can Am sells a similar vehicle, called the ‘Spyder’, and it lacks A/C, a seat belt, a rear fold down seat, and a body {shell}, and the Spyder starts just under $15,000, so to think this “car” will sell for $1000 MORE than a Honda CTX 700 motorcycle is absurd nonsense!

  • one000words

    Wow, author, your lack of knowledge of motorcycle law in this instance, your lack of knowledge of physics (backward? Really?) And your general lack of logic are rather staggering. You are one very foolish blow-hard with a blog.

  • TheKaisho42

    Arizona is creating a new class of vehicle to support the launch of the Elio. It will be called an “autocycle” which will enable it to be licensed much like a car and without the motorcycle limitations mentioned in the article.

    The CEO has already got the legislation through the Transportation Committee and is awaiting it to be submitted to the full floor for a vote soon.

    So, it looks like (in Arizona at least, and as of today) your arguments against the Elio succeeding have been rendered invalid.

    Next time, try and be a little more optimistic, okay? People need positive things to read…not all this negativity you wrote. I mean, seriously.

    You could have wrote, “I hope the car is a success, I truly do. But…” You did not have to write out, “I think the Elio sucks and, basically, it is going to fail and fail big.”

    Nothing like being a little ray of Sunshine is there?



  • Keith M. Brown

    Mr. Borras, you are prime example of what I have always said is a problem with the internet. Anyone can say anything and have an appearance of authority, when in actuality, they are expressing merely personal opinions. It doesn’t matter at all if those opinions are based on nothing more than completely self biased negativity. You have nothing that backs up your opinions. I believe that Elio motors will shake up the automotive industry like nothing else has done in decades, and after a few years, the Elio autocycle will one of the most common vehicles on America’s roads.

  • JG

    Thank goodness that Jo isn’t part of the Elio development team. It is his ridiculous line of thought that doomed the Aptera, turning it from an efficient wonder into a bloated 3 wheeled AMC Pacer and thus dooming it.
    If Elio is left to prosper and not doomed by an association with Detroit-minded types (like the one who milked dry and then killed Aptera (hi Paul), then it will prosper and sell more than enough units to make a profit.
    Just stay true to your brand: efficient, relatively simple, ultra high mpg, and above all AFFORDABLE.

  • plunger

    check out the latest design, not half bad . ill but one…if they build it

  • Chris Emge

    I like Jo’s credentials too.

    “Jo Borrás I’ve been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network.”
    Gee, you’ve written for a number of blogs. Wow, that’s impressive. Lots of sixteen year old girls write blogs and publish them on the Internet. Doesn’t mean, they or you, know jack$#!&.
    Keep writing those blogs Jo. Some day maybe you’ll grow up and be a real journalist.

  • Travis Holland

    I have to hand it to you, Jo. A hundred people ripped you a new one, but you’re still walking! Whatever the credibility of your claims, or the motives behind them, I feel bad for you, because I’ve never seen such an overwhelmingly negative response to a web article. I think Putin’s op-ed in the NY Times got better feedback. I hope you have a nice, soft pillow to sit on while your ass heals.

  • guest

    At this point only 5 states with helmet laws on the books have not passed an exemption for Elio. And as for the three wheel stability issue,….

    • drew

      What a catastrophe! Haha


    WTF, did you just start writing last week? I think you got your degree off the internet somewhere, one of the worst researched and written articles I’ve read in a long time.

  • TheReason

    I think it’s a complete scam. I think they are never going to be produced and are just running a major scam playing on people’s desire and need to save money in these hard times. And then that “anticipated” crash rating means they have not even actually crash tested it. If they are labeling it as a car I think it should be tested like a car and given an ACTUAL crash test rating, especially if this is something they plan on people commuting in daily.

  • Improper Rhino

    I rode a HovR Board yesterday…pretty much the same thing.

  • john
  • el_guero2000

    OK, your argument is valid. But, if this car starts to sell, won’t the environmentally friendly helmet law states want an 84mpg commuter on their roads?


    • Jo Borras

      By that argument they’d waive helmet laws for 150 MPG Vespas twice as quickly as they would for the Elio.

      • el_guero2000

        I do not know where you got that logic from.

        This vehicle has air bags and head protection comparable to cars, the Vespa does not. Although, I am not a proponent for helmets, many are dangerous.


  • John Dayton

    Currently there are only 5 states that have not passed the Elio helmet exemption. I know this article is almost a year old, but it seems Elio has come a long way my friend.

  • Up one

    This guy is an idiot, he writes self reviews and get paid by company’s to write reviews so when they can back fire, it is in his face. He is not a tuner, auto enthusiast. Wait till they build the elio with a turbo or supercharger. The weight and engine size, a 2.8 3 cylinder. That’s a smart cart with a hybuysa turbo in it. The car is capable of a lot of power, first design of anything not the best, 2nd is usually a winner, example Prius. Also this car is not regulated as motorcycle because it is in closed, that’s why the t-Rex is a motorcycle it is all open, but then again you knew that being a tuner and auto enthusiast since 97. Yeah that’s what I thought…..hey if you like we can compare dicks all day, yours maybe bigger, but like elio said….. 87 mpg, I’ll at last you.

    • Christopher DeMorro

      Have fun losing your deposit, assuming you made one.

  • Thor

    Wow, this author is a moron. Doesn’t know anything about cars, helmet laws or trikes, and clearly has never been on a can am or regular trike motorcycle. This should be taken off the Internet, I want my two minutes I took to read this back. Moron, just shoot yourself now, do the world a favor

    • kneesus

      The writer is a moron. But the Elio is not going to be built. They’re not hiring anybody for anything right now which tells me it’s nonsense. They planned on production in 2014 Summer, delayed, yet they’re not hiring anybody. Doesn’t that raise a red flag? They just bought a huge facility, want to start production of a motor vehicle and all the standards that go with that, processes, machine setup, yet they are not hiring anybody on their career page. Sounds fishy to me.

  • Egore

    OK first of all take a corner in a Reliant Robin at a speed faster than 5mph and then you can say two wheels in back are better.

  • jwc8781

    There have been three wheel cars as this one is marked as. No helmet is required and the power to weight ration off the 3 cylinder motor they are using could very well see 70 mpg range. This whole article has no fact behind the text.

  • NRG Prof

    Sorry dude but I race 3 wheeled vehicles and this is not built backwards! Two wheel drive up front means winter handling is good and it will pull around corners like crazy on the dry pavement too!

  • Rusty LugNut

    Jo Borras has some good points and some idiotic ones. His technical skills all come under questioning with this kind of analysis.

  • mrjirey

    This vehicle will be classified as a trike in most states. This will mean that the laws may be different for the points that he has listed. Keep in mind that in many states enclosed vehicle requirements for helmet laws may differ from state to state. Also, the licensing required for a trike vs a motorcycle also differ. Lastly, a three wheel trike insurance will be less than a 2 wheel motorcycle in many cases because most insurance complies deem them safer. Check our the CanAm’s. Although not enclosed, their requirements are different than motorcycles

  • mrjirey

    I just thought…. It would be funny to take your motorcycle endorsement test with one of these :-)

  • DerKommissar
  • BarttheCat

    Well good golly your one pessimistic fella there Jo! I’m quite sure that States allow for exceptions to vehicles like this, especially if they pass Federal roll over standards and have restraining devices. Maybe next time you can cut all of the sensational smart ass crapola and give these folks a chance.

  • Dr. Evil

    Tell us how you really feel Jo? I think Jo Borrás got few dollars from the auto giants to write this twaddle…

  • Steve from Ohio

    If you think you can or you think you can’t, you will be right.

  • Joe in ATL

    Georgia law:

    § 40-6-315. Headgear and eye-protective devices for riders
    (a) No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear which complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety.
    (b) No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle if the motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield unless he or she is wearing an eye-protective device of a type approved by the commissioner of public safety.
    (c) This Code section shall not apply to persons riding within an enclosed cab or motorized cart. This Code section shall not apply to a person operating a three-wheeled motorcycle used only for agricultural purposes.

    That said, the last similar concept I recall is the ZAP (Zero Air Pollution, a misnomer) all electric vehicle, which had a less than one year stardom here in the Atlanta area. Tended to catch on fire. We’ll see whether Elio catches on. He’s no Elon Musk.

  • Kidder
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