Elio Motors recently announced that it had exceeded 10,000 reservations for its proposed, tandem-seating 3 wheeler. Since then, there have been reports that the pace of people placing reservations has accelerated, and that the total number of reservations has hit 15,000. For every bit of good news coming out of Elio, however, it seems like there’s a quiet piece of bad news out there- and today’s news is the worst yet for Elio fans: Elio’s proposed Shreveport, LA factory may go to another company.
According to John Escude- and his fellow Caddo Parish commissioners Michael Williams, Michael Thibodeaux, and Stephanie Lynch- have sufficient doubts about Elio’s ability to make good on their promises to bring 1500 new jobs to the region that they’re in active discussions with another, more established company to move into the old GM Shreveport facility.
Escude, who chairs the Caddo Parish economic development committee, said he wouldn’t disclose the company’s name- but did disclose that it was publicly traded, and that he saw a great potential for northwest Louisiana. “This is the kind of stuff that, once an announcement is made, it will manipulate stock prices,” said Escude, in explaining why he and other commissioners in the know are reticent to give specifics.
If that deal goes through, it will be the second time Elio Motors has failed in a highly publicized bid to secure a factory in less than 5 years (the first time being in 2010 in Pontiac, Michigan– another hopeful town with a shuttered GM plant that was battered by the recession’s impact on the auto industry). It’s important to remember, however, that a lease deal is still in place with Elio … assuming they have the money to move forward in time. “We said absolutely. We always wanted to buy (the factory) so we could control our own destiny,” Escude said. “Now, Elio has an option to go into the plant if they can raise their capital. But if they don’t, we’re going to (find someone to develop it).”
Caddo Parish commissioner Stephanie Lynch, however, is more publicly critical of Elio’s chances to make it. In fact, Lynch “firmly believes it won’t happen” according to a local newspaper interview. Escude responded to that with “I don’t know if Elio Motors is coming or not. In the end, if you study the parish’s agreement that we made in our purchase of the General Motors facility, Elio wasn’t involved in that, at that point anymore.”
Elio wasn’t involved in that? That’s quite the opposite of the message the company’s fans and PR would have us believe. No matter who’s right about the level of Elio Motors’ involvement in Shreveport, however, one thing is certain: it’ll be hard for Elio to start building its three wheelers if they don’t have a factory.
Update: The unnamed Japanese company has, apparently, passed on purchasing the Shreveport factory.