The Elio Motors Saga: If it Looks Like a Dale and Quacks Like a Dale …


Dale Elio Scam

First came the gas crisis. The price of oil and gas skyrocketed across America and people started looking everywhere for a way to ease the pain on their pocketbooks. Many Americans traded their big-engined pickups and sportscars for smaller, more fuel-efficient compacts from Toyota and Volkswagen that promised better MPG and lower operating costs.

At the same time, the economy nose-dived, and thousands of Americans lost good-paying factory jobs at Ford and GM plants. Out of that chaos came a visionary with plans for an innovative 3-wheeled car that promised nearly 70 mpg, made incredible safety claims, and all for a pricetag about half that of the cheapest cars of the day. The biggest promise, though, was the promise of jobs – jobs that would reinvigorate economically depressed areas and give hope to those who’d been hurting the most after the factory closings.

People rallied around the company’s charismatic CEO, and invested millions of dollars to get the car certified and crash-tested. Big name CEOs were brought in, and Ayn Rand was heavily quoted by supporters of the company who insisted that there was a huge demand for exactly this kind of vehicle.

I’m talking, of course, about the 1975 Dale three-wheeler.

Back in 1975, 37-year-old Geraldine Elizabeth “Liz” Carmichael launched the Dale on a hopeful public at the LA Auto Show. Claiming to be a mother of five and a widow of a former NASA structural engineer, Carmichael was a fraud. The Dale, itself, was a fraud, and there was no way a knowledgeable look at the company – or the man! – could reveal otherwise.

That’s right, Liz Carmichael was a man. A man named Jerry Dean Michael who used a “Made in the USA” message coupled with extreme promises and an unconventional vehicle that was just different enough from a normal car to convince people who knew a lot less than they thought they did that the people who knew the car business didn’t “get it”. In the end, Jerry Dean Michael fleeced big-time CEOs, investors, and hopeful would-be employees who plunked down significant deposits on a Dale out of some $30 million dollars.

After being arrested and charged with grand theft, fraud, and securities violations, Jerry/Liz jumped bail and went into hiding with thousands of dollars. Jerry, abandoning the Liz persona, was eventually caught after the airing of this episode of 80s era cult-classic, Unsolved Mysteries. You can watch the segment, below.

Dale Car via Unsolved Mysteries

Fun stuff, no? Unfortunately, the story of the Dale seems all too familiar to anyone who’s been following the saga of Elio Motors since the company first showed off its 3-wheeled Elio in 2010 with the hopes of building the vehicle in Pontiac, Michigan. Like Shreveport – where Elio is currently petitioning the taxpayers to front him the $3 million he needs to occupy the abandoned GM plant in Caddo Parish – the city of Pontiac, Michigan also suffered from a shutdown of General Motors plant that cost the local economy hundreds of good-paying jobs.

Also like Shreveport, Elio Motors eyed Pontiac, Michigan as a place to set up shop, promising the local community good-paying jobs that fed all the “Made in the USA” fires. Back then, Elio Motors promised they’d be ready to roll in just 18 months … which (you might notice) would have put production Elios on the road by mid-late 2012.

It’s 2013, and we’re still about 18 months out for the first Elio Motors trikes … and those may or may not be crash-tested, depending on whether or not the Elio trike is designated a car or a motorcycle if/when it ever reaches production. Elio’s promise of achieving a 5-star rating (something only 1% of cars achieve under the new testing structure) hinges on whether it ends up classified as a car, bike, or something in-between.

The commissioners running the Caddo parish have, by now, had a good long look at Elio’s financials (which were reproduced on Gas2 last week), and they don’t seem too convinced, despite the nationalistic/rabid fervor of Elio supporters. As a case-in-point, Caddo commissioner Stephanie Lynch may have said it best when she said that Elio Motors’ inability to raise capital up to this point may make the deal too risky and speculative. “If Elio is having trouble raising $7.5 million to purchase the plant,” she says, “where is the $200 million going to come from that is actually needed to bring those jobs to Caddo Parish?”

It’s interesting to note that Lynch is not opposed to the parish purchasing the plant, but is specifically concerned about Elio’s plan. She says she’s “concerned about the lack of private investment needed to actually bring those jobs to fruition.”

Elio Motors will certainly need more investment if they hope to raise that $200 million … especially considering their own costing has them making just $1000 per trike sold. The company would, according to their numbers, have to sell 200,000 trikes just to start building them, at that rate.

 Maybe they will. Who knows? Certainly not me. I have no idea what’s going to happen to Elio Motors and the thousands of people who’ve put down deposits without reading/understanding the company’s financials and projections. I am, however, a student of history who hopes that the Dale’s history isn’t about to be repeated.

What do you guys think? Is the Elio Motors trike the new Dale? Take a look at the pictures, below, and let us know what you think in the comments, below.

Sources | Photos: Elio Motors, Jalopnik, Unsolved Mysteries, via Paleofuture, KSLA Channel 12 News.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Jacob McMango

    The information that has been provided by Elio is very concerning. The recent news and numbers that have been provided do not inspire confidence in the company. I still support the ideas that are expressed by Elio motors but their goals are becoming more and more unrealistic. Thus, I will support them in spirit but I will keep them out of my pocketbook as they are a bit too risky right now to invest in. That said, this article was much more convincing than your previous article as it seems a bit less biased, which personally I appreciate.

    • Jo Borras

      I appreciate that – but I think connecting the dots between Elio and a transvestite con-artist that stole more than $30 million from hopeful Americans seems *MUCH* more biased than pointing out a number of glaring and objective problems in a company’s financial statements!

      THAT said, definitely hang on to your dollars. Once this blows over, the vehicle might become available as a kit or on a more reasonable scale, and then might be worth buying!

      • GJPinks

        Great Sock Puppet effort there Jo B.

        • Jo Borras

          Thanks, man! I really liked your effort at wit and humor, too. Here’s a funny sock-puppet comment we can all enjoy.

          • Edward Van Belkom


            I agree with a lot of your statements and look at this whole venture with my blinders off.

            I am building a reverse trike using a 05 Burgman 400 for most of the parts. Even using used parts it will be over 7K when I am done.
            Looking at all the key parts and vehicles of this type, it just does not seem feasible that this will be produced at this cost with all these features.
            I lusted for a Bede 5 homebuilt airplane like many others but just did not happen.
            I wish the best of luck to all with a stake in this, but for me the reality is to roll my own with a proven frame kit from the UK.
            Looking at production trikes of this type and most start at over 30K .
            I really hope he can pull it off and you all get the vehicle you are hoping for .
            I know for sure I will be on the road in mine to greet anyone with a Elio9 and have a chat.

      • Treyno4137

        Hey, Borras, how many used vehicles were sold for $7000 or more last year? Think maybe an alternative option for a brand new, fuel efficient, low insurance cost vehicle could have pulled a couple hundred thousand customers away from a used clunker…you really don’t see the potential? Really?

        • I see it as the opposite problem, actually. A quick eBay search (hardly scientific) shows quite a few examples of what I’d call “desirable metal” that really doesn’t seem clunky to me.

          That’s what the Elio is up against: established cars, with established dealer groups, with established parts networks, technicians, aftermarket, etc. There’s nothing in the financials they released to Caddo that convinced me or, it seems, the Caddo commissioners.

          That said: do I think Elio could sell, let’s say 10,000 units in a year? Maybe. I think that’s on the high side.

          • Treyno4137

            Wow so you found a few examples of “desirable metal” on eBay. Yep, that’s where I want to buy my next car..eBay or Craigslist. I agree 250,000 units is setting the goal very high but they’ll crush the 10,000 mark in California alone just because it can use the Diamond lane here. Go promote Gordon Murray’s car to be built by “someone else” in 2016, you hypocrite

          • When Paul Elio designs some of the most dominant F1 cars in history, designs the benchmark supercar of a generation, has his hand felt in a number of game-changing concept cars, then has the wisdom to step back and say “I’m an engineer, not a manufacturer.” and hand something like this over to Ford, Toyota, Tata, or someone who has some experience building millions of vehicles with grace and humility, then I might consider myself a hypocrite.

            Until that happens, you’ll sound ridiculous.

          • AZ

            That’s what Tesla was up against too. Honda, Toyota, Mercedes too.

          • Not quite. Tesla went at them with star power, styling, and building a premium product. Elio is a budget product. In America, in 2013, that’s a tough sell. See: Microsoft Surface.

          • AZ

            oh but Honda with the CVCC had what? Toyota? All small players internationally.. The Tesla roadster did real well huh?

          • psumba

            Jo … these days, a start-up car company can get an inexpensive cloud-based IT infrastructure whose sophistication is adequate to drive companies like Toyota. Combine that with some 3PL’s for transportation & warehousing and a lease on an already configured car factory in a right to work state (LA) and you are well on your way to being in business!

            Sample vendors:

            3PL’s: more than I can count!

      • AZ

        Oh please. You called it a virginity shield. Now all of sudden you want one. Please.

        • Yup! That thing would be sikk with a ‘Busa motor.

          • T Adkins

            busa would be nice, not like the geo metro sohc engine they are using.

          • psumba

            Tanom motorcycles is building their product with a ‘Busa motor!

  • Jason Carpp

    I remember when I first heard about the Dale via Unsolved Mysteries, hosted at the time by the late Robert Stack. I laughed at the gullibility of people who bought into the bullshit that this LIz Carmichael (aka Jerry Dean Michaels) was telling people. At the time I saw this, I wasn’t quite old enough to learn to drive, much less get a driver’s license, but even I thought it was hoax.

    • Jo Borras

      I think I was, maayybe 10.

      • Jason Carpp

        This Dale fiasco took place took place during the 1970s and 80s. I was younger than 10 at the time. By the time I first saw this story on Unsolved Mystery, I had to have been in my teens. So that had to have been between 1986 and 1993.

  • plunger

    sounds a little more gentle than the trashing you gave them yesterday, did you get a letter from dewey,cheatum and howe……….lol

    • You’re the second person to say something like that without realizing that THIS is an op-ed piece that equates Paul Elio to a transvestite con artist who ran off to Mexico with investor money and deposits and THAT was an objective review of Paul Elio’s crazy financials.

      Have we reached some ludicrous point in America where you can call someone a con artist “gently” but can’t point out that people are bad at math without someone calling you an a**hole?

      Maybe so!

      That said: the Elio supporters who looked at the financials and still believe that’s gonna happen are a very special kind of Faithful. Good for them, I guess! I always hear that little voice that says “Do the math …” in my head, and then I do the math. LOL!

  • frank

    well for starters we can stop sending 800 million dollars to Syria and put that money to use here to create jobs here in America! and as far as that GM building shouldn’t that belong to the government after all we bailed out GM! so lets take that 7.5 million that someone is asking for that should have been seized with GM stupid bailout and donate it to elio than write it off on the governments backlog of foreclosures you see whats wrong with America!!!!!!

    • How do you feel about US military and financial aid to Israel?

      • bullamakanka

        I’m fine with aid to Israel. If Israel’s enemies stopped fighting today, there’d be peace tomorrow. If Israel stopped fighting, there’d be no more Israel.

  • Ken Charbonneau

    This the king of thinking that makes these projects die on the vine. I know not to trust dreams but this is more than a dream. This is a solution to many problems ailing our once great country. I know Mr. Elio personally and this is no scam. The odds of it happening are staked against him but I know his heart is in this and so us mine. So lets keep this vision going.

    • Treyno4137

      I’m with you, Ken. This Barros character is in motorsports? Thinking “Sponsors” and maybe slightly biased in his thinking. He compares potential sales of a New $7k car to sales of Volvos, Minis, etc that are a min $18K and higher. Apples & Oranges.

      Also he decides he knows how the distribution will play out through a typical auto dealer…think again Barros, you haven’t got a clue how Mr Elio plans to go to market and when you do maybe those numbers will make more sense. Pity the closed minded like Barros. Hooray for an American out to create a low cost vehicle for the masses and create jobs at the same time. Barros is the Debbie Downer of the automotive world!!!

      • Maybe you can enlighten me? That said, I hear a lot about “dreams” and “jobs”, but not a lot of “this is why it will work”, so I won’t be holding my breath.

        • Treyno4137

          Let’s wait and see how he decides to go to market then let’s compare notes…His distribution plan and financing plans will be unique and tempting to more than you think. His numbers aren’t meant to compete with Volvos, Minis and Fiat 500’s. It is the used car market as well as new small cars/motorcycles, weekend toy, etc, etc. His potential customer base is HUGE as Donald Trump would put it.

          • You think going from 0-250,000 units in under 24 months is a MARKETING issue!?


            Did you just say “aren’t meant to compete with Minis and Fiat 500s”, then say that it was built to sell against “new small cars”? What do you think Minis and Fiats are? Pickups?

            Oh, man – that made my morning. Thanks for the pick-me-up! LOL!!

          • Treyno4137

            I’m also laughing but the joke is you. New small cars in competition would be the econoboxes like Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Chevy Spark, etc. Not a Mini or even a Fiat 500 (since they are still a hot item and in demand with little discounting), you are an automotive vacuum void of facts. Your motorsports experience probably means you’ve been on a go-cart track. We’ve got your number, Jo. Your transparent goal is simply to get people frustrated with your lack of knowledge and vision, thereby, getting more hits. You are simply a media wanna-be and absolutely not a legitimate source for anything but B.S.. You are a cheap nobody blogger with a desire to be a journalist someday (HaHaHa -that is another joke). The majority of respondents know you are a biased inflammatory fool so I hereby will deny you any further comments, (i.e. No hits, No income).

            To all readers, please do not comment as he makes money from these comments. Now you understand his motives so please don’t provide him with any more income. I’m sure he will have some smart ass comment for me but I choose to cut off his income source and hope you’ll do the same. Oh, and he will now deny these facts and make a silly attempt at humor, so watch for it…

          • Seriously: PLEASE do not comment. I can’t handle this much stupid, self-righteous bulls*** on a daily basis.

          • Treyno4137

            wait for it…wait for it… and there it is! (Ha,Ha,Ha…)

          • Retired411

            What if anything can you handle? Pimping for a company that barely exists is proof of what exactly?

          • Retired411

            Apparently I know the least here since It looks to me like this vehicle at $6800 and 80+ mpg has no competition other than itself which is, at this point, moot since it does not exist. If it does ever exist isn’t it still competing against itself and the ability to deliver on the promise. They don’t seem to be all that sure what exactly they are going to be selling or who their market is. That kind of competition may prove too tough for Elio. It seems like eventually, we don’t know exactly when, we will sell you something but we don’t know exactly what yet. The first buyers it seems, if there are any buyers, will be beta testing for the life of the vehicle and who know it they will ever get anything close what they think they are paying for.
            I don’t think it will have the crash test rating, functionality or the reliability of the other vehicles in the comparison stated above.

          • Bikestore

            One of the best replies yet.

          • Indeed!

      • Borras_is_a_Hack

        Jo Borras is a HACK making money off your Ad Clicks from his speculative and falsehood-filled negativity pseudo-articles. Be sure to click his ADS and share his link, it’s all about the money for Jo Borras.

    • If this sounded less like a “Preach it Brother!” speech, and more like a point-by-point rebuttal of the problems Elio is facing, I’d be more inclined to believe you.

      The odds aren’t stacked against him, by the way (I think you wanted “stacked”, anyway), the odds are very much in favor of Elio. He has spent millions already, he has a fanatical fanbase, he has the opportunity to petition the government for millions … what’s letting Paul Elio down, in my eyes, is Paul Elio’s business plan. There’s no way he’ll sell 250,000 of those per year, and building a plan and a financial forecast around that number is what’s making this seem like a scam.

      I hope it’s not. It would cost a lot of good people – believers – a lot of money if it was. It would make a heck of an Unsolved Mysteries in 2017, though!

      • Alan Dike

        I dont think he’ll sell 250k per year here. I do think once they get their feet and start exporting, that they’ll do it pretty easily. China, India, UK.. all would go for this and have less of a stigma against 3 wheel “cars” there. In the US, 10-20k a year. The 250K number isnt is US sales projection, its what he would like to be producing at full tilt.

        • If he builds the Elio in India, I will probably agree with you. Building it in the states? Not a chance. Taxes, import duties, shipping costs, and the difference in labor rates would make that possibility … well … not possible.

        • Bikestore


        • Randy

          If the plan was to sell it to third world countries, they would be built in third world countries. Transportation would cost too much and production would be cheaper elsewhere.

          • Tim

            Yeah just like bookcases are right? Oh and Tablets and couches!

          • Elio Fan

            The per-unit profit margin on tablets and couches is more than 14.5% (45-61% for the iPad), and they move far more than 10,000 units. And the units are much smaller than an Elio vehicle.

            You COULD build here and ship overseas, but it’d be dumb. It’d be much smarter to build at least your first plant wherever you expected to gain the most sales.

    • mark

      I too know Paul Elio, for the last 3 years … been to his home have met his children and ex wife this will happen I think Paul is doing a great job getting the word out… I do want one….

      • Kirk Johansen

        Lots of people know Bernie Madoff too- helluva guy

  • Tom

    I’d just like to ask you honestly, do you want Elio to succeed or do you want Elio to fail? You seem to have a personal vendetta against Paul Elio.

    • I’d love for Elio to succeed … I’d also love it if people didn’t substitute flag-waving for reason, hope for due diligence, and nationalism for common sense. I think Elio could succeed the way Ford, Toyota, Apple, etc. did: by building something from the ground up.

      To presume you’ll go from 0-68,000-250,000 in unit sales in 24 months, in my opinion, is ludicrous. In building his projections and hopes and promising jobs in exchange for government money, taxpayer money, donations, investments, deposits, etc. on numbers like that, I think Elio is doing himself, his people, and his followers a huge disservice … OR, or, just maybe, possibly, it’s a scam.

      Maybe not an intentional scam, but if I promise you something that I don’t know how to deliver in exchange for money that you might never get back … what would YOU call it?

      • AZ

        How can you possibly say “I’d love for Elio to succeed?” You called Elio “vaporware specialists,” & “a design
        aesthetic that makes Genuine’s Lemonhead look tough.” May 13, 2013. Yeah it really sounds like you want it to succeed or be available in kit form.

        • I don’t want to see anyone fail. I’d love to see someone who knows what they’re doing come in and save that mess, because people care. People like you, sitting in Dearborn, typing away and frothing at the mouth. I don’t want to see people get hurt … I also don’t want people to put money into something that, in its current form, ain’t gonna happen.

          • AZ

            Don’t want to see people get hurt, that’s why you responded go die now. You never manned up on that one, a real coward you are. People make mistakes, but not once did you say you overstepped, went too far, you were really proud of that remark.

          • Yeah, I didn’t like her. I meant people I don’t have direct experience with. I assume everyone is generally good and decent and worthwhile until meet them and decide to believe otherwise.

      • Steve King, CISSP, CISA

        What really hinges on his success is not how much money he has raised so far but, how quickly he can get this vehicle classified as an automobile. If it stays classified as a motorcycle I don’t care what anyone says – he’ll never make those projected sales. If he can get this classified as an automobile and get a respectable crash rating I guarantee he will be flooded with investors. Until then, this is like following a pharmaceutical company waiting on a drug approval from the FDA. Once approved- say hello to investor craze!

        • 100%. As long as it has to carry motorcycle plates, a motorcycle license, motorcycle insurance, etc. it’s doomed.

      • joe bore ass

        The only “scam” are these “articles” Borras writes to suck off the teat of Elio — the more negative, the more clicks! Borras is a HACK who makes money off your Ad Clicks from his speculative and falsehood-filled negativity pseudo-articles. Be sure to click the page ADS and share his link, it’s all about more money for Jo Borras!

        • No comment from you clowns on the latest round of delays from Elio pushing back delivery into 2016? LOL

  • Cameron Schwartz

    am I reading this properly that you are inferring that Paul Elio is a transvestite trying to scam customers?

    • LOL! No, not at all – I’m pointing out the similarities between the Dale story and the Elio trike’s story so far, and hoping that Elio’s doesn’t end the same way.

      I am surprised, however, that people find a comparison like this less offensive than pointing out flaw’s in Elio’s business plan!

    • How funny would that be, though? Like, if it was exactly the same deal? I’d laugh.

  • psumba

    How many of you have talked with anyone from Elio … or the vendors who they have listed on their website? I have.

    I was lucky enough to catch up with them at one of the stops on their road tour. I had the chance to talk with several of the key employees and one of their key vendors who will be responsible for making this happen. One of the benefits of having a company run by a vehicle engineer is that they know how to to build a vehicle to a particular price point. Their vendors have bought into the concept and price point. Their head of manufacturing has a very level-headed attitude on what will be required to convert their concept vehicles to real vehicles. I’ve seen enough vehicle launches to know that they have a shot … if they can secure enough outside investment. That is certainly one of the goals of their current road tour!

    I have a poster in my office that includes a picture of a Model T and VW Beetle with the caption “The same great idea … over & over again”. Basic transportation at a basic price is a winning formula! If they sell through established dealerships, they will be able to eliminate many of the costs that are referenced above. TESLA is able to run their own brick & mortar stores but they are selling jewelry and the costs still almost sunk them … even with all of their Silicon Valley financing.

    I will be watching them with interest over the coming months. No one wanted to distribute Land Rover in the USA in 1985. It was launched on a shoestring budget by a factory that invested over $825 million on the Rover 825 (Acura Legend). More importantly, Land Rover was able to define their vehicle as a car, when it helped them, and as a truck otherwise. I see Elio doing the same!

    This is no “Dale”. The key will be whether they can attract enough funding to get them to their product launch.

    • I agree 100%: they need to cut back on sales projections and sell through established dealers.

      As for comparisons to the Model T and the VW go, the market is a very different place, and if “basic transportation at a basic price” was all it took, then why isn’t the Chevy Sonic or the Ford Fiesta or [insert any number of competent, inexpensive cars] no. 1?

      It’s an out-dated concept, is what I’m saying.

      • psumba

        I would argue that neither of those cars sell at a “basic price”!

        • Both are available under $13K sticker, and Chevy has an even smaller/cheaper car, to boot!

          • psumba

            That’s about 100% more than the selling price for the Elio … especially when they are comparably equipped!

            This vehicle isn’t for everyone. I won’t be buying one because I need a different bundle of value than the Elio has been designed to fill. At the same time, I DO see the value of the vehicle for many consumers. It fills a market niche that is currently unserved in the marketplace!

            Remember, Subaru entered the USA market selling 3 wheeled vehicles! ‘ seen any Subarus on the streets lately?

          • Retired411

            Not with three wheels.

            You point being….

            If this is going to be Suburu all over again, I pity the fools who buy this vehicle (who need, pay for and expect the value that the Elio promised) that in a few years will be gone, replaced by something else that was the target all along.)

      • AZ

        “Maybe they will. Who knows? Certainly not me.”

        Why do people have a motorcycle to drive to work? When they get home drive the kids in a car. Save money. A Fiesta/Civic will not comfortably fit the kids or car seats. They (Fiesta/Civic, whatever) cost more to insure than alot of bigger more expensive vehicles. So you pay more on insurance with the hopes realizing a savings on gas….. Why not let the kids ride in comfort of a minivan/suv/larger car. You put all the miles on a cheap inexpensive piece of equipment. Keep the miles off (whatever) the bigger vehicle is, saves on insurance, wear, tear, gas, maintenance, and helps on resale (of the family vehicle)… people are thinking of buying the Elio because of their commute.

        • Huh?

          • AZ

            You need dumbed down even further? Wow, I thought even you could figure this out.

          • AZ

            Oh that’s right you are big on “financials” but refuse to do them, do any research. You know like an average, good or great writer.

          • T Adkins

            If you could dumb it down that would be great. I can see what you wrote uses English letters and English words but it is missing that part where it makes full sense and that part with how it connects to the comment it was written in reply to.

        • Steve King, CISSP, CISA

          Absolutely! I drive a Honda Goldwing as my commuter for a 80 mile round trip. And I only get 37 mpg.

      • Retired411

        Two reasons those cars don’t compare fairly to this concept and niche might be their higher cost and lower fuel efficiency. Niether is an 80+ mpg vehicle and neither can be purchased for $6800.
        This is a gadget of sorts. It’s different and we don’t know if it’s different in a good way since it doesn’t exist.
        But there is one fact that applies to the cars you mention that blows the Elio away. They exist and have proven to work reliably – or so we are told.

      • David

        Do the financials. At “only” 40mpg better than either of the options you list, the Elio will have saved the consumer $9,000 in gas within the first 100,000 miles, essentially “paying for itself”. Some people who can’t get laid in real life (at least, not without vehicular bait) only evaluate whether a car will let them get into some shallow floozy’s pants, others have more down-to-earth math for determining value.

    • Also: don’t confuse Rover/Sterling with Acura. The only part of that car that wasn’t garbage was the engine … which came from Honda.

      • psumba

        Sterling = Leather upholstery + Wood + Honda Powertrain

        Acura = Cloth Seats + Plastic + Honda Powertrain + $20,000,000 ad campaign

        That ad campaign made a world of difference! Norman Braman spent $200,000 on an ad for Sterling that he didn’t spend a cent to run!

    • BootStrapBill

      As far as start ups go, Tesla has Elon Musk (Forbes – #527 Billionaires, #66 Powerful People, #190 Forbes 400.) Hence, the losses they absorb are because they have capital necessary. By comparing Land Rover here, you aren’t comparing apples to apples.

      The only comparison you can possibly make is the Campagna Motor Company. Which, go watch Jay Leno’s highlights on their 2014. He mentioned the guy creating it disappeared, only to have his creation resurface years later.

      I would seriously buy two elios for the price. I’d buy a G2 cycles VTR for 18 with a motor. All Elio has to do is rush to market. Start building them by hand in a sweat shop somewhere not campaign and blow horns.

      • psumba

        There are a number of other “bootstrap” makers out there. Tanom motorcycles in Culpepper, VA is one of them. They are privately financed.

        Elon Musk wasn’t rich when he started Paypal. He had to rely on external investors to provide VC. I’m sure that Elio is doing this tour to get in front of investors as much as to measure consumer reactions.

        • The difference is the age of the market and the barriers to entry. At PayPal, the number of competitors was zero, and the barrier to entry was creation. Here? Oh, man – if you can’t see the difference, I don’t know how to begin to educate you.

          • psumba

            Jo … don’t try … I’ve got many more miles on me than you (and probably more degrees as well)! Sometimes the best thing to do is to LISTEN.

            Elio has the potential to be a “game changer”. The key is in their:
            – ability to find funding
            – ability to take advantage of the “legal aspects” of the unique design of their vehicle (like Land Rover did).
            – execution of the vehicle launch

          • Retired411

            Potential maybe. They get a “maybe” at best. The key is those items on your list and more. Don’t you think if they could do it, they would have done it. They don’t need the capital they are claiming they need. If they had something to build, they would build it.
            They are two years behind and apparently still seeking “donations” from gullible prospective buyers – for the purpose of recouping out of pocket expenses.
            If this goes the way of all the others who talk a good game and actually have no game, the only folks who suffer are the poor slobs who were bilked in this latest reincarnation of the classic snake oil pitch.
            There is more to this and if they don’t have money to build, they certainly don’t have money to take care of warranty issues and recalls. Customers have to look at this as a toy at best. The potential is so small given the obstacles this company has no way in hell of overcoming, it’s not even measurable.

        • oldiugymnast

          Elon Musk WAS rich when he started Paypal – but otherwise I agree.

    • T Adkins

      Since you chatted with them on the road tour a few quick questions. Did they say when they would a have prototype or mule that was closer to what the production vehicle was going to be like, with the more areodynamic front end? or one that was going to be running a closer to production engine?

      • psumba

        I didn’t ask those questions.

      • yellowdogdemocrat

        The latest design, the P4, is on tour as I’m typing this.

    • Obama_The_Fraud

      Have they proposed invetors to infuse capitol or have they solicited $100 at a time from internet guppies till the corp goes bankrupt?

    • Randy

      The company’s numbers are far too unrealistic…

    • kneesus

      If they’re not hiring, they’re not serious. Just go check out the companies career websites. Launching in 2014? Wouldn’t you be staffing now? What a sham.

      • yellowdogdemocrat

        Launch is in 1st Q 2015. They’re getting the plant set up for the car at this moment.

    • orsondog

      No independent wanted to bring Land Rover in because the car sucks. The quality sucked then and it sucks now. As to the Elio, if they can’t get someone with big money interested, then they have failed the sniff test of even the most interested “Green” types..the Hollywood and Silicon Valley types. If they had a product that would was plausible, then they would be getting financing other than the sheep that are plunking down $1,000 that they will never see again. A picture of a Model T and a VW Beetle? OMG…this thing is not even close to those particular vehicles. You better watch with interest, because you are paying $1000 for a show. A snake oil show.

  • BootStrapBill

    I’m sad, so very very sad. I needed this car. I believe in this car. The market is there, but the marketing was just too good to be true. I never put my credit card in the website, because as a man of business, I knew this would be a flop like so many before. I didn’t bother to come out and see the prototype. I didn’t want to get attached. I’ve been following since March. Once I saw the projected financials and forecasts, I realized this wasn’t going to happen. I’m doubling down on Failure.

    • It’s too bad, isn’t it? They could have gone for a grassroots approach and built it, like Genuine Scooters did over the last 10 years to become the no. 2 powersports company in the US, behind Honda. Instead? Fancy numbers, bug talk, and little substance (so far).

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  • Paul Kuehnel

    To be honest, I really don’t mind the concept of losing $100 deposit. Starting a car company from scratch is almost impossible I know that. But you don’t get a hundred, or a thousand or a million deposits without the first 25 people. It was more of an expression of yes, I like this idea, the US parts, the jobs, a fresh start. A small vehicle company in the face of corporate consolidation. I would drive an Elio. I am comfortable with motorcycles, a Fiesta is big enough for me. A large group of people driving simple cars that get 70 mpg would do more for the environment and reducing carbon and imported fuel than the hand full of rich people driving grossly inefficient electric cars like Teslas or complicated hybrids. I think it’s about helping a start-up that you believe in the concept, you don’t expect a return. At $100, I certainly couldn’t lose more than I have in my 401-K over the past 15 years and I don’t believe in any those money grabbing investments. It’s about supporting a concept that you would like to drive and you think could actually make a difference in the world. The $100 won’t be a loss to me even if the car is never built.

  • FlyButanol

    If something seems too good to be true, it is.

  • Greg

    DIstribution will most likely go through existing motorcycle shops; Just another brand offered by ‘Smith’s Moto Center’ (next to the bikes, 4-wheelers, jet skis…). The dealer will get a 10-20% cut on the final sale prices, and hook suckers on an all inclusive maintenance plans, and pocket extra interest built in the loan. The cost might be lower than projected once the dealer & mechanic training takes place.
    As for the sales, I see 80,000-140,000 per year a more realistic goal.

    • If he goes that route – the motorcycle center – he may have a shot, but not anything like at 250,000 units.

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  • Teefus

    Just sat in a real elio last weekend in San Francisco . I found it great for one person, very cramped and claustrophobic for two. Almost impossible to get your luggage out from the very back ( rep said they are working on a hatchback to remedy this ) They also said Elio will be “expected” in full production in the third quarter of 2014. Seems like the carrot in front of the horse to me. Maybe I should have offered them 10K for their prototype just to really have one! It just might become the new Tucker ( those guys go for just under 3 million) !

  • leroy

    i think its a scam too

  • unoga


  • steveofthenw

    I only have this one comment: I just got back from SEMA 2013, where Elios promised to have a display, looked high & low, sought information, consulted vendors lists, & guess what: No Elios. anywhere. Considering their facebook page still says they were at SEMA, I’d call that a bad sign.

  • Shane Douglas

    I have no idea if Elio motors will be a success or not. I have come to the conclusion after reading 2 articles written by Jo Borras, that he is a moron and how he got a job as a writer is beyond me.

  • Abraham Newman

    First things first. I more or less hate cars – no not some green peacenik thing, I just take no aesthetic pleasure in driving or looking at them. I certainly don’t identify myself with my car. So when I first heard about this Elio thing I was excited, I can buy a new car, with good milage, that will get me back and forth from work for less than 10k. And I liked the idea of no new technology (the future of hybrid repair costs and resale value scare me).

    Then I looked up his website and saw that they were taking reservations, cool I thought I’ll even put my name on a list.

    Then I saw it, $1000 or more non-refundable deposits. My scam detector went off big time. I think I agree with you. This will be vaporware. No one will get to drive back and forth to work for under 10k, because the company will go bankrupt, and Elio will be overseas with all of the non-refundable (to say the least) deposits.

    I see people don’t like your opinion. I’ll stay away from the helmets, from the three wheels, from the laws and the roadworthiness, even the crash rating, but I’ll agree with you on the only thing that matters there will never be a 2015 Elio. Am I willing to bet $1000 on it? Nope, but I sure as hell won’t bet $1000 on a new company going from paper and prototype to delivered certified vehicle in a year’s time.

    Hopefully you will save some people from being scammed.

    And hey, if the vehicles are actually made and delivered I’ll buy one in 2016 or 2017.

  • Tim Allred

    I first started seeing the Elio ads about 3 weeks ago on Facebook and they intrigued me. My daily commute is 80 miles and yeah, I do that almost every day on a small motorcycle that was supposed to get 60 mpg when new, but that has only ever gotten around 45-50 mpg. I’ve been eyeballing the newer bikes Honda has that get around 80 mpg, but they still won’t solve the rain “problem”, which, living in southeast Texas, can be a frequent “problem”. So along comes this guy who says he’s building a car (enclosed cabin, etc.) that gets 80+ mpg and sells for roughly the same as what I’d pay for a newer, more fuel efficient motorcycle. Mind you, this comes along at the same time I am looking to change jobs at which point my daily commute will be 140 miles. What’s not to love?
    For starters, the car doesn’t exist yet and the latest information is that it won’t be in production until (maybe) next year. Having read articles like this while doing my research, looks like they are a little behind on launch, so more delays can be expected. Two weeks ago, I was ready to plop down my $1000 all-in “entry fee” (because I can afford to right now), but now, I’m not so sure. This weekend, we’ll take a little road trip up to the Dallas area where it seems they will have one to look at. I’d at least like to see one up close and personal and talk with some Elio folks, since their responses to email inquiries has been virtually non-existent.
    I’m still not sure what I’ll do at this point. I love the idea of an inexpensive, fuel efficient commuter vehicle that will keep me dry on rainy days and somewhat safer than I am on my bike. Mechanically, I am capable of fixing anything that might break on it, but only as long as I can find replacement parts. Still, there is a part of me that balks at the idea of plopping down a thousand bucks to maybe get to own one in a year… Or two. Or twelve.

  • Tom Wittlief

    The previous vehicles failed because the designers tried to make them into CARS. Cars are mid-sized and have 4 wheels. The Elio is a freeway capable , covered MOTORCYCLE, that ANYBODY can drive, in ANY weather, without being in Leather head to toe. Finally, heres a vehicle that was NOT designed as a triumph of style over substance, and the style over substance people are startled by the effrontery of not bowing to their holy opinions.

  • MarkMarkarian

    I’ve sat in the Elio mule, I’ve met and talked with everyone on their team (except Paul Elio), the Elio is a real project and you should know that Elio is 50% owned by Volkswagen.

    They may succeed or they may fail, but this a real attempt at creating and selling a street legal Autocar, made in America, for Americans, by Americans.

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    The price seems unrealistically low. The technology seems feasible, even if the fuel economy is a bit optimistic as these computer model projections always seem to be. Still, it’s a great idea, and worth doing. I wish them well. They should be able to attract investors. So, where are they?

    The Elio would probably create a spin off business for converting Elio Motors cars to 100% electric vehicles. Or Elio could offer that option in a few years. It’s a natural for their customer base – commuters who want high efficiency (low cost, low emissions) for short daily trips.

  • YouveGotToBeKidding

    Well they are planning on moving 65k units the first year (or at least they need to) so don’t bother paying that reservation… the market will probably be flooded with these things if and when they do come off the production line. I will say… beginning production dates have been Q4 2012, Q2 2013, Q4 2013, Q4 2014, and now Q3 (or Q4) 2015.

  • thomaspainelives

    Scam. I don’t know of any motorcycle that gets 84 mpg, or am I just stupid?

    • Denise

      Mine does.

    • John Painter

      My Honda XR600 gets about that.

      • Jenkem Jones

        Maybe if you kept it at 50mph.




  • Tom Buyea — Fla.News service

    At that time I had a BMW motorcycle with the same engine they clamed they were going to put in their production models and it barely got 40 MPG pushing my motorcycle !!

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  • I don’t know if they’ll make it or not—but I think it’s too simplistic to say that just because the Dale was a fraud—-any 3 wheeler that looks like it, from a start-up company, will also be a fraud.

  • Steve Moyers

    I have been following the Elio in hopes that they would start making more sense and come through with what they propose. They are getting worse. They make claims that at best can only be theoretical but state them as facts. On their social media page all pertinent questions are answered vaguely, very often sounding smart ass. This is from whoever posts for Elio, the fans will attack taking offense and call you names. All because a question was asked. If I were naive enough to invest I would not like being associated with such.

    Yes, the Elio sounds very much like the Dale. A three wheeled econo car is not a new idea. They are manufactured in many other countries and a Chinese made one is re-labeled Snyder and sold in this country. I have one. After WWII the three wheeled econo car is what got Western Europeans back into self transportation.

    The Elio car is not a new idea and neither is his business plan.

    • Darrell Suriff

      I personally went all in on the deposits for three of these vehilces. I hope they make it to production and if not goodbye to $3, 000 dollars!

      • Gettheheckoverit

        you did? Have you any reservations now? Aren’t you worried?

  • Rod Prather

    The current motor gets about 50 mpg highway if you read the information. They’re still working on the engine. Narrow frontal cross section could get 45 to 50. Streamlining is better than a motorcycle. 84 MPG or not it’s still a great idea for a commuter auto. Single Door, tubular frame, belt drive .

    • Gettheheckoverit

      so where’s the appeal? I mean a legit car, prius gets the same….

  • Rod Prather

    VW XL-1 gets 216 MPG. Small engine hybrid.


      THAT’s NICE BUT IT COST OVER $140,000 .

      THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE XL-1 & A $40,000/35mpg CAR .

  • John Painter

    I think the Elio is about as realistic as a $700 cellphone that’s as powerful as computer. Ooops, I guess someone figured out that was actually a good idea.

  • Johhny Wright

    There just sucking money from as many people as possible – before they collapse into Bankruptcy …face it their TOAST and people who put money into this – well it gone!!!

  • catman2130093 .

    first there were going to be running cars available in 2012. It’s now Feb of 2015-ans still no cars,now the “company” says mid 2016. S urprise! C ars A nd M oney gone!

  • Gettheheckoverit

    Wasn’t there a popular science/mechanix car like this? A homemade three wheeler…..

  • Kathy Vincent
  • Barry Aldhizer

    It was a real car, your just following the controversy of the promoter that scammed my uncles car, his name was Dale Clift. Quack like a writer that hasnt fully investigated the story

    • Jenkem Jones

      There still aren’t any Elios on the road.

  • El_Tigre_Loco

    I had a Yamaha RD200B which got 55 mpg.