Auto industry Paul Elio with the Elio Motors prototype

Published on June 29th, 2017 | by Jo Borrás

Question: Does ANYONE Still Believe in Elio Motors?

June 29th, 2017 by  

After years of delays, inquiries, broken promises, ridiculous PR moves, pessimistic SEC filings, and (maybe) even some outright lies, is there anyone out there who still believes Elio Motors is really going to happen?

Paul Elio Hopes You Still Believe / Send Money

Paul Elio with the Elio Motors prototype

When we first started writing articles questioning the- let’s call it “likelihood” that Paul Elio and the eponymously-named Elio Motors would ever be able to deliver finished vehicles to their customers, we were met with some pretty angry backlash from Elio supporters. Some called us tree-hugging liberals who hated everything that wasn’t electric, while others called us shills for Big Oil and the Big Three. A lot of that anger cognitive dissonance seemed to be coming from the /r/eliomotors subreddit.

But that was then. As of last count, Elio Motors needs between $64 million and $367 million to finish Job One (the first production vehicle), and that Reddit sub is, today, populated by a much more sobered, realistic group of people. People who are, in fact, asking each other the very same question I’m asking: do you still believe?

This thread on the Elio Owners website, from 2014, reads, “Those who have elected to go “all in” are True Believers and there are many factors for why we choose to be. Most of us have a passion for technology, but believe it goes far beyond this. For one I think it is the creativity of the idea that sparks us as to recognize this can be a game changer for how we look at automotive transport. We believe in Paul Elio and his team to deliver America a better form of transport that is uniquely focused on our passion for driving. At the same time we believe it is possible to build a vehicle that is on the leading edge of technology, safe, reliable, affordable, cool wrapped in a quality package. Why do we believe it so?”

That thread was re-posted the the /r/eliomotors subreddit again a few days ago, and the first response was telling. /u/Albert0_Kn0x responded with, “The irony is that elio could have opened as a small specialty manufacturer and maybe grown organically as they worked out the bugs. Instead they wanted to open huge, starting w/o either the product engineering or funding. There was a small-market feasibility to the vehicle concept. That price point, however, was never gonna happen.” Another user, /u/dunkybones, wrote, “I never thought Elio would actually succeed at its goals, but I did think I’d get a silly car for cheap before the company went bankrupt. Kind of the inverse of a Delorean.”

I don’t remember either of those guys eagerly leaping to my defense back when I compared the whole mess to the Dale scam of the 1970’s and the Elio faithful were flaming up my comments here on Gas2, but I believe them, nonetheless. I mean, after all- even the most optimistic versions of Elio’s plan didn’t add up. Which brings me back to the original question, and I’ll ask you readers more directly, this time.

Do YOU think Elio will ever deliver a fully functional three-wheeler to its customers? Do you even care, at this point? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


Links to sources can be found throughout the content, above.

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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.

  • Rick Danger

    No and no.

  • Tadeusz Piskozub

    How is that even a question anymore?

  • joewilder

    With the low price of used EVs, who would even want one?

    • That is a really excellent point- but weren’t the louder Eilonauts saying EVs wouldn’t work for them because of their long/expensive commutes or something?

      • Rick Danger

        Yeah, they all drive 90 miles to work and back every day 🙂

  • James Rowland

    At this point, it doesn’t even matter.

  • LMP-1

    This is so short sighted. Elio will break the poverty cycle, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce the trade deficit and create 21K American jobs. By the end of the decade the Elio will be shipped to China, South America and Europe. It is a green machine because it reduces the carbon footprint. It even has a 5 star crash rating. 90% of the parts are from North America and on July 4th, we will all be celebrating the North America Independence. What’s not to like about the Elio? It is everything we want and then some.

    • James Rowland

      Well, it would be some of that if they had any chance of executing their plan.

    • whaaat

      5 star safety rating… for a MOTORCYCLE? bwahahaha!!!

      • To be fair, I don’t know about any star safety ratings, but the E-series builds do have many safety features and air bags. Not that any of this matters, of course, but if it went into production it would be a great deal safer than a motorcycle.

        • whaaat

          motorcycles don’t get safety ratings. Elio is federally classified as a motorcycle. Elio’s claim that they would get a 5 star safety rating SHOULD have been everyone’s hint that Elio wasn’t being totally honest.

      • Terry Melvin

        motorcycles don’t have 3 airbags..actually, they have none.

        • whaaat

          still doesn’t change the fact that the Elio would still be federally classified as a motorcycle… even if it had 20 airbags.

          • Lex

            So freaking what! Sounds like Bore-ass shilling for Musk comments. No wonder ecotwats and snowflakes are hated.

          • whaaat

            where did I mention Musk? We’re talking about Elio… you know… the company that can’t hit one target that THEY make. The one who funneled $30 million to Paul Elio’s other company, ESG Engineering. You would know all of this if you’d pull your head outa your ass and read some of Elio’s SEC filings.

          • whaaat

            the fact that Elio would even SUGGEST that their vehicle (a MOTORCYCLE) would qualify for ANY safety rating should have been a hint that something was amiss and that they weren’t being totally honest.

    • topkill

      So how much money have you invested so far? 🙂

    • HAAAAAA!!!

    • Just for the record, the Tata Nano (with the advantages over Elio being that it’s half the cost, has twice the number of seats, and is actually a real product you can buy) didn’t do any of those things in India. Why would you think that would happen here? Serious question.

    • Lou Jones

      5-Star crash rating. Stars are what you’ll be seeing if you get into an accident in this thing.

    • fred smith the deplorable

      I love the subtle sarcasm. Great job! If Elio’s fake claims & promises were the truth, it would be a great company and a great vehicle. There would be nothing not to like. As is, there is nothing to like.

    • Lex

      You’re trying to reason with eco-twats who have tunnel vision. The big three and Musk are freaked out they would lose a huge market share if Elio is successful. Not only the poor, but the middle class need this vehicle to commute.

  • Darrell Batchelor

    Not unless Jeff Bezos drops his wallet and it has 365 Million Dollars in it.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    No and No.
    But I always thought the world did not need yet another hydrocarbon fueled vehicle, especially one with 3 wheels.
    If that is for you a motorcycle combination can be purchased, just as roadworthy and no waiting.

  • Kerry Carter

    I went to see this over 3 years ago at a Nashville hotel parking lot. Afterwards I thought to myself that it would never reach production and of course because he wasn’t making it electric.

  • topkill

    It’s a silly company with an unrealistic business plan. Wishing it was realistic is like hoping Santa’s going to bring you one for Christmas this year.

    • You have a better chance of getting one from Santa Claus than Paul Elio, I think.

      • Heh. I’d be more than a little concerned if Santa claimed that he would start delivering Elios! LOL

  • Antony Berretti

    Given the moves by the big operators, do they even matter any more, just another scam at this point…

  • M98987

    What’s Paul Elio’s Track Record?
    What has he produced, does he have a history?

    • M98987

      They have qualified board members.
      They’ve got someone doing a very good web site.
      They can’t be making much money on reservations.
      So, either they’re wasting a lot of their own time, or this will someday get built.

      But, the speed of lining up suppliers is extremely slow.

      They should have had sufficient capital now to order components for 1000 cars and then build them, and then do it again.

      It could be they don’t know how to build an assembly line???

      • Rick Danger

        They want to go straight to manufacturing 250,000 units/year. This is just not how it’s done.

        • Lex

          And you know this because of your vast manufacturing experience ?

          • Rick Danger

            I know it because I have enough sense to pour piss out of a boot, unlike anyone who still buys into Elio’s BS.

  • Do I believe? The whole Elio thing isn’t a religion, so I don’t believe, but I did think Elio had a chance. Pragmatically, the answer is no. It’s a real shame, too. First off, this is no Dale. Period. Full stop. They’ve built a real car and if it were in production and on sale, people would be buying and driving them. It is a neatly engineered car with a unique premise that will work. Hell, I was looking forward to starting a small stock road course racing series with these things. Such is the fate of dreams.

    Did Paul shoot too high? That’s quite clear now. How many times in the last 60 years have we seen a car company startup go on to compete in the majors? This is a very, VERY high stakes game and it looks like Elio underestimated it. I do, however, hope that the Elio doesn’t just up and die. Someone needs to buy this thing out and start building them. We need a new Beetle on the road. A lot of people would benefit. A LOT of people.

    • I agree with you.

      Just because it is (probably) going to fail – doesn’t make it a scam.

    • William Barnes

      ^Jeff Bezos has been dropping his wallet quite a bit lately. I agree with your comment that someone else needs to buy this and get it on the road, I don’t want the $7k version but the $20k self driving version – so ” google / apple “etc needs to step in. I don’t think this fits Tesla business model.
      I commute in ATL every day. Put a highly efficient low cost self driving car in the middle class commuters hands and the interstate will change in 3 years. William

    • kevin mccune

      You could have something there , enough people believed in this concept to put money down. Personally I do not want this venture to fail , I have faith in my fellow country men ( the perspective buyers and the builders too) come on Elio make it so ! Come on board behind Mr. Musk !

  • John

    im a sucker that acually believed in it. NEVER going to happen! SONDERS, maybe.

    • Rick Danger


  • rogwild

    ELIO MOTORS is –DEAD– ; Nobody is going to ‘Buy Out’ a company with this much ‘accumulated debt’…. and NO PATENTS, when they can ‘start from scratch’, with a ‘realistic’ business plan, and make a similar vehicle! Initial ‘idea’ was OK; ‘execution’ SUCKED! If not a — SCAM –; Paul Elio has done very well ‘financially’…. while the company and ‘investors’…… went BROKE and SPENT and lost $$$ Millions.

  • Gary Constantine

    We’ve known for years this was a pipe dream, the idea of crowd sourcing of making a mass market three wheeler was always ridiculous. The ridiculousness only continued with the arrogance of building their own engine for this thing. There was stupid all over this project, but it surely paid several handsome salaries for Paul et al, there are suckers still born every minute.

  • I wrote the first post you quote and have been pointing out the obvious flaws in Elio’s math since the first time I read the details years ago. I hate to see the public get burned like this. It undermines faith in Real manufacturing start-ups.

    No, I wasn’t one of the 22 commenters on your blob back then. Don’t know how I could have missed such a “high profile” piece of journalism.

  • milliamp

    Elio might have been a scam from the beginning and I’ve been saying as much for several years to less and less opposition. Your articles from 2013 were pretty on point and you called it as early as anyone. I have more faith in Arcimoto. I know Arcimoto is at least not a scam but they have a lot less support from people than Elio. I would love to see what Arcimoto could do with even 1/4 of the money Elio has flushed down the toilet.

  • Dan Ashley

    I supported you and your analysis. All over Quora and Spyderlovers.

  • fred smith the deplorable

    No, and apparently yes. 🙂 Like you, I’d like this cancer on the automotive and entrepreneurial body to be eradicated for once and for all. While I’m not convinced that the intent was fraudulent from the beginning, from 2013 on, Elio & associates had to know that their claims and promises were impossible to meet. In my opinion, this has been a scam for years now. Intentional or based on delusion? I have to go with intent. Too solid of a pattern of lies and non-performance. Like Dale, some prototypes move under their own power, and some do not, but none of them are anywhere close to the advertised specs. Fraud, scam, or hubris, they ripped off a lot of willing suckers, and a fair number of unwitting ones.

  • Terry Melvin

    I think the Elio could actually be built if it was redesigned as an electric car, simply because then Elio could get Federal subsidies to help build the car.

  • Terry Melvin

    Not to worry. Based on the most recent SEC and financial statements, the thing is DOA.

  • Darrell Batchelor

    Check out the Sondors Electric Car. Storm Sondors actually has a winning track record and has already done wonders with a small amount of $$$ so far.

  • Mad Mac

    When I contributed my $100, I figured it would have made more sense to just light a hundred dollar bill on fire. There was no way that Elio could deliver the P4 for the promised price. However, even though it was totally unrealistic, I did want Elio to succeed. I’ve followed three-wheelers since the 2001 Daytona bike week where I saw the Corbin Sparrow and the Campagna T-Rex. While I may never have that P4, at least I do have a collector’s item, the $100 Elio T-shirt.

    • Dale Leppo

      My name is Dale (get it?) and I also have the $100 “collector” t-shirt. I admit that it was all I ever expected to get. Sigh…The stock is now dropping toward the apparantly inevitable level of $0.00. I wish they would have done what previous posters suggested: start small, build some cars, make a few bucks, build some more cars, etc. BY THE WAY, Honda Gold Wing motorcycles have had airbags available so not all bikes are airbag-less.

  • TimboinOK

    To answer the reporters question without adding all the extra “I know everything that’s going on internally at Elio Motors” is no, I no longer believe. What I DO believe is I’m $1000 poorer.

  • Elio has tried, burning $100 million in the process. For a vehicle that’s this low-tech, that is a lot of money any engineer can assure you. For half of that sum twenty demo’s could have been built already that would/could have done their testing cycles. Elio never came that far. So, no, I don’t think Elio will ever be able to produce a car that’s ready to be delivered to the customer. Those guys lost momentum, which is deadly in this particular industry. You might even say that a company like Lucid never did lose momentum… Still it went belly up and sold everything to Ford. Which must have costed multi-millions.

  • wincrasher

    It’s sad so many get caught up in this as an emotional issue. It’s not much different than the Tesla “true believers”. I’m one of the few that says that even Tesla is going to fail – their business model is just not going to work. Elio’s never had a chance, even if you believe it was an honest attempt and not some ponzi scheme or fraud. The car business is a tough one even for the majors. Why do you think GM is adamant that the floor for their cash reserves is $50 Billion? They know how cash intensive auto manufacture is, and how the cycles work. Let me be plain – there is no business model that works to make cheap cars for poor people. Period. The only answer for the cash strapped customer is to buy a used car or buy new with extended payment term to get the monthly payments down – that is why you see 72 and 84 month loans. Average people really don’t care what the total price of a car is, if they see they can afford the monthly payments – so saying this $7k price is some kind of magic figure is just ridiculous. For investors, all the excitement is in electric cars. They expect them to sell at premium prices and make fat profits. Why would they invest in a company that says that a $1000 margin per car is all they need? Do the math and tell me how you pay back a startup investment of $350 million, plus fund ongoing production, plus develop improved product, plus pay investors a return on $1k per unit? Wake up! It doesn’t work, and never will!

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