Elio Motors has begun work on its 5th generation prototype. It plans to build 26 prototypes before production begins in mid-2016. The three wheeled car will sell for $6,800 and get 84 miles per gallon, according to the company.
The 5th generation car includes a number of upgrades over the 4th generation prototype. Some styling changes have been made to improve aerodynamics and a multi-mode manual transmission has been sourced from Aisin. But the big news is the newest prototype is fitted with the company’s bespoke 0.9 liter 3 cylinder gasoline engine. This represents the first time in 60 years that a start-up car company has designed and built its own engine, according to Green Car Reports.
Elio Motors has formed a partnership with Comau to build the car at a manufacturing facility in Shreveport, La., where General Motors previously built the Hummer H3 and Chevy Colorado. Comau is part of the FCA group that builds FIAT, Chrysler and Alfa Romeo automobiles, so they have a fair bit of experience in how to manufacture an automobile.
To date, 43,000 people have said they want to buy an Elio when it goes on sale. That’s about double the number who have signed up for the Tesla Model X. When production begins, the company will employ 1,500 workers at the Shreveport factory. The car contains 90% North American content, which will fuel the creation of another 1,500 jobs at the companies who supply parts for it. Combined, the new jobs are expected to create another 18,000 jobs for people who are indirectly involved in manufacturing or supply parts.
With all the buzz in the auto industry focused on electric and plug in hybrid cars, will there be a place for an inexpensive, basic car that gets great gas mileage? The last company to try that was a little Korean manufacturer nobody in America had ever heard of. Its name was Hyundai and things worked out pretty darn OK for it, didn’t they?