Talk to most people connected to the auto industry – engineers, executives, government officials, journalists and pundits – and you’ll find a common thread about hybrid and electric vehicles. They are coming. Of that, there is no doubt.
The biggest question – when?
Unfortunately for hybrid and EV fans, the answer might be “not any time soon.” The National Automobile Dealers Association recently released its annual sales forecast for 2015. It predicts there will be 16.9 million new vehicles sold in the United States next year, the most since the industry hit 16.99 million in 2005.
One of the factors cited as boosting sales is inexpensive fuel. However, this could slow down hybrid and EV sales, as battery technology also remains costly, at nearly $12,000 to $15,000 per vehicle, according to industry estimates.
All of that adds up to slower adoption for hybrids and EVs. According to J. D. Power estimates, by 2020, hybrids and EVs will have 5.5 percent and 1.9 percent market share respectively.
What’s needed? A bridge to the future that relies on a traditional internal combustion engine, but delivers significantly higher fuel efficiency. It’s a niche that Elio Motors plans to fill.
The company has developed a vehicle that will achieve up to 84 MPG and will cost just $6,800.
Elio Motors, the brainstorm of entrepreneur Paul Elio, is using a combination of lightweight materials and a unique aerodynamic body style to reach its goal. The three-wheeled vehicle will weigh slightly more than 1,200 pounds, roughly half of the average 2,400 pound vehicle today. In addition, the vehicle features unique front-to-back cockpit style seating for two passengers (sort of like a fighter jet).
The front-to-back two-person seating is a unique concept for most motorists. But, that’s one of the secrets to the company’s high fuel efficiency. The vehicle is half the width of traditional passenger cars. Therefore, it moves half as much air as a traditional passenger car, and wind drag is the single biggest factor impacting fuel economy during highway driving.
This American-made vehicle (it will be built in Shreveport, Louisiana, at a former General Motors Hummer H3 facility) will have a significant impact on the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. In just five years, Elio Motors projects that it will reduce total U.S. fuel consumption by 0.35 percent. By 2025, Elio Motors will save 8 billion gallons of gas and reduce CO2 emissions by 160 billion pounds.
It will be even more environmentally friendly than a cow. Here’s the math:
One cow produces about 110 kg or 242 pounds of methane a year through burps and flatulence. Methane is 20 times more effective at trapping heat than CO2 over a 100-year period. The cow’s 242 pounds of methane, multiplied by 20, equals 4,840 pounds of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases.
An Elio driven 20,000 miles will only produce 4,500 pounds of CO2…making an Elio more environmentally friendly than a cow.
So far, thousands of people are on board. The company has received more than 37,000 reservations for a spot in line when the vehicle rolls off the assembly line in 2015.
This post was sponsored by Elio Motors