Elio Passes First Phase of DOE Loan Approval



If Elio wants to start building cars next year, it’s going to need a lot more money than it’s raised from pre-orders. In fact, Elio needs to raise about $200 million before the first batch hits the road. They’ve got a few million in the bank, and (like Elio’s factory) the rest may be coming from you and me.

That’s right, Elio Motors is looking to the government for the $185 million infusion of cash it needs to get production of its 3-wheeled autocycle going. That government money may come in the form of a Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan from the US Dept. of Energy, and Elio has already passed the first of the three phases of approval it needs to get the money.

It’s worth noting that Elio is the first company to have gotten this far since the program’s extensive revamp following the failures of Aptera and Fisker, among others. In that, Elio certainly has something to celebrate. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not the final production version of Elio’s autocycle will meet the company’s stated price and fuel economy targets- but we should know soon enough!

You can check out the official Elio press release, below, and let us know what you think of Elio’s chances to get the loan- and make it to production!- in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!


Elio Motors Passes First Review Phase for DOE’s ATVM Loan

    Elio Motors Inc., makers of the ultra-fuel efficient Elio, announced today that its application for a DOE ATVM loan has passed the first of three phases of review. Now deemed “substantially complete,” the application will move to the due diligence phase.

    Elio Motors is seeking a $185 million ATVM loan to accelerate the company’s plans to begin production of its enclosed, three-wheeled vehicle in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2015.

    The DOE ATVM loan program supports the production of fuel-efficient, advanced technology vehicles and components in the United States. The program has invested billions of dollars in projects by major automakers such as Ford and Nissan as well as startups like Tesla Motors. Congress created the ATVM program with $25 billion in loan authority in 2007; the program was revamped recently and resumed activity in April 2014 with more than $16 billion in remaining loan authority.

    “While this is just one step and there is a long way to go, we are pleased that DOE has moved expeditiously thus far on our loan application,” said Paul Elio, CEO of Elio Motors. “With a $6,800 sticker price that makes ultra-fuel efficient transportation affordable to the general public, we believe Elio is exactly the kind of American-made innovation that the loan program was designed to foster.”

    Elio Motors will create approximately 3000 jobs, 1,500 in Shreveport alone, where the company will occupy approximately 1.5 million square feet of a 4.1 million-square-foot former General Motors manufacturing facility. The company is in the process of working with its manufacturing partner, Comau, to sell surplus GM manufacturing equipment that Elio acquired along with the plant. Those sales will help raise additional funds toward the production of the new vehicle.

    Elio already has more than 35,000 reservations for the innovative vehicle, which will get up to 84 MPG and sell for $6,800 – setting it far apart from other ultra-fuel efficient vehicles available to the general public. A prototype is attracting the attention of thousands of people during a nationwide tour.


Information provided by Elio Motors. Photo by Neil Blanchard.

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.
  • Kent Beuchert

    Borras seems to have done a 180 since the last article I read. But as can be seen from this text, he is not a particularly good source of information about the Elio. 90% of the reservations (35,600) are “all in” meaning they have sent Elio $1,000, which means Elio has around $35 miilion from that source. With the govt loan (insiders claim it’s a done deal, nothing but formality) Paul doesn’t need any more investment capital.
    As for the mileage targets, the details of the IAV engine design fuel management is described at Elio Motors website, along with a listing of the two dozen parts suppliers for all the vehicle’s systems. They are A-list suppliers (M-B, BMW, GM, Ford, Nissan, you name it).
    Last info produced by the simulation software made known, has the Elio at 82.5 MPG on the highway, with a few aero adjustments yet to be made. Price according to Paul several months ago was still $500 higher than expected $6800, presumably due mostly to the inability of the Geo Metro engine to power the car, and the originally unexpected need for fender skirts to achieve MPG targets. Paul wants both targets to be met, but my view is that he’ll get his 84MPG but simply won’t be able to find enough cost savings to reduce that $500 overage completely. Of course, any other automaker would simply add a couple hundred in destination charges and up the price a couple hundred and be done with it. Although not required to do so, crash performance and emission performance would pass all govt tests : that’s obvious from simulations. Any possibility that the
    vehicle will not be produced is practically nil. There simple are no obstacles
    remaining in Paul’s path to production. Paul has shown remarkable, calm persistance and loyalty to his vision of an affordable vehicle for the lower economic classes , as well as a commuter vehicle for others. Elio’s vehicle will have 1,000,000 times more impact on gas consumption/emission reductions than Musk’s $80,000+, 4,000+ pound over-the-top electronic Rube Goldberg concoction. There is no comparison between what Paul Elio is accomplishing and what Musk thinks (and loudly proclaims) he is accomplishing. And Paul mentioned a future electric version, which would certainly solve the problem of excessive cost for electricity storage and by my estimates, allow for a 250 mile range electric Elio with a 30kWhr battery pack and the vehicle would cost probably less than $10,000, weigh the same as the gas powered version and have fuel costs of around one penny per mile. It would certainly be the world’s first practical electric vehicle (other than golf carts). Now THAT’s what I call providing low cost mobility for the masses, INCLUDING the lower economic classes.

    • oblio

      Kent, you really need to check your facts.

    • Kent, you seem to think traveling across the country, developing an all-new engine, building prototypes, and advertising on dozens of websites (including this one, which serves up Elio ads now and again) costs money. Lots of money. Elio also has people on staff, including lawyers, engineers, sales reps, etc. NONE of which are working for free.

      Let me guess: you’re not an accountant.

      That’s OK, Kent. Despite that, I’m sure you can understand that Elio doesn’t “get to keep” all $35,000,000 of what he’s supposedly “brought in” until it magically adds up to $200 mil.

    • Offgridman

      Whether you care to admit it or not, there is a major problem with your math also. In that when Elio first started hitting up the suckers for reservation money 2 1/2 years ago an all in reservation could be done at any level. 100, 250, 500, or 1000$, now even supposing that your claim that 90% of the reservations are all in (something that the company refuses to verify one way or the other), how do you know how many of those were at the 1000$ level?
      Also on the government loan that “insiders say is a sure thing”. Here after eight months the company has finally managed to get the paperwork filled out the right way so that it was accepted. It now has to go through the verification phase, this is how the government has learned to protect itself from the wild claims of startups that don’t actually have a feasible business model. So with the previous defaults, this application has just hit the difficult part.
      As for this being the perfect vehicle for the “lower economic classes”??? Sure if it is a single mother or father with one child. What is a family of three or four supposed to do? Tie the kids to the bumpers?
      This has been designed and built as a commuter vehicle for those well enough off to afford more than one vehicle. This is stated all over their website. Low income families that can only buy one vehicle will be much better off using the ten grand to get a used four or five seat economy car so that they have seat belts for everyone.
      I am sorry if you did an all in deposit for one of these and are now in your third year of waiting for next year’s supposed production. Perhaps it should have been applied as a down payment towards one of the enclosed motorcycles or trikes that are already available. It would have been a little more expensive, but at least you would actually have some transportation.

  • J_JamesM

    MOUs and other such preliminary steps are widely touted by peddlers of vaporware. I’ll believe this awkward little thing can sell when I see the figures rolling in. Buyer beware.

    • I think they’ll be like Fisker or the new Fiat 500: they’ll sell out the first batch, sell a bunch the second year, then flatline at a “real” figure of about 40-50,000 per year, at the most. Well short of the 250,000 per year they plan on selling.

  • UncleB

    Canada, with its new trade agreements with China expect an influx of Chinese built cars, mostly gasoline and diesel models at first, followed by electric buses, cars, trains, electric bullet trains. Massive investments in our tourist trade have already added to our prosperity, Being a multicultural mosaic we hardly feel like a Chinese invasion is happening, in fact, the more the merrier in this land of many colours, many languages, and some are already suggesting integrating Mandarin language lessons along with French and English in our grade school level programs!. Canada! A land of immigrants building for the common good!
    This little car might need a damned good heater, and 4 wheel drive to survive our winter conditions! It will have to compete price-wise, and perhaps in yuan with Chinese cars as we have a new deal with China made by Harper our prime minister. We love U.S.products, U.S. quality, and U.S. durability and we love our neighbours to the south. Hope you have a winner here – only time will tell.

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  • Bubba Nicholson

    America’s little guys need this car.