Elio Motors Shows Off its Engine, For Realsies


Elio Motors took the wraps off the production version of its new car/trike engine earlier today. And, despite what many of the companies early nay-sayers and detractors (myself, included!) had anticipated, the thing looks like an actual, usable, for-real car engine!

That Elio’s engine looks the part should come as no surprise, given that it was designed by IAV. IAV, while hardly a household name, is known in industry circles as a top-shelf supplier to companies like Chrysler, Volkswagen, BMW’s legendary “M” high-performance/racing division, and as key OE suppliers and consultants to the 1000+ horsepower, 18 cylinder, quad-turbocharged, 250+ MPH Bugatti Veyron super-duper-hypercar.

Now, a few of our more cynical readers might point out that our criticism of Elio has mellowed somewhat since he started paying some of the bills around here, but the fact is that- while I’m not yet a believer in the idea that Americans will buy a three wheeled motorcycle in any type of significant numbers, I have to say that my talks with Paul Elio have evolved to the point where I think his plan- centered, as it is, on government-subsidized loans and a clever interpretation of upcoming CAFE standards– is pretty clever.

Regardless of what you think of the man or his plan, however, you’ve got to hand it to Elio: this engine is a legit piece. You can learn more about it by checking out the photos, and the company’s official press release, below. Enjoy!


Elio Motors Engine Revealed

Troy, Mich. – For entrepreneur Paul Elio, founder and CEO of Elio Motors, there are no shortcuts on the way to developing a $6,800 commuter vehicle that will get up to 84 MPG. Even if it means becoming the first start-up vehicle company to build an engine from the ground up in more than 60 years.

On Feb. 6, 2015, Elio Motors will debut the new 0.9 liter, 3-cylinder engine prototype with an official “first start” at a private event for investors, suppliers and media. The event will be held at the Plymouth, Mich., offices of IAV, a world-class engine developer which has worked with such global icons as Mercedes and BMW.

Elio Motors believes it is the first start-up vehicle manufacturer to develop its own internal combustion engine since Nash Motors in 1951.

“When you are on a monumental journey such as the launch of a new transportation company, sometimes you have to blaze your own trail,” Elio said. “We looked at existing engines and couldn’t find anything that met our needs. We challenged IAV to develop something from the ground up and they delivered. We believe this engine is the heart and soul of this vehicle,

In order to provide its customers with high fuel efficiency and still provide the performance consistent with today’s passenger vehicles, the Elio Motors engine must operate efficiently at two different loads – lower loads representative of highway cruising, and more demanding loads associated with the fast starts of city driving.

The IAV team started with a three cylinder architecture and developed several Elio-specific components, including the cylinder block, cylinder heads, CAM cover, front cover, oil pan, crankshaft, camshaft, valvetrain, pistons, connecting rods, bearings and water pump. This allowed the engine development team the flexibility to keep the design simple, efficient and easy to manufacture while enabling all of the major fuel economy related attributes – combustion system, friction and pumping energy – to be enhanced.

“Ultimately, the decision to build an engine that was completely ours will pay off by meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations for fuel efficiency and performance,” Elio said. “In addition to a vehicle that is fuel efficient and has a unique look, our customers will find it fun to drive as well.”

In addition to providing ultra-high fuel efficiency, the vehicle will go from 0-60 in 9.6 seconds and will have a top speed of more than 100 miles per hour. Elio and its manufacturing partner Comau will build the vehicle at a world-class manufacturing facility in Shreveport where General Motors previously built the Hummer H3 and Chevy Colorado.

Currently on a nationwide tour, the vehicle prototype has developed an enthusiastic grass-roots following and nearly 40,000 people have made reservations for a spot in line to buy one when they go to production. The Elio was recently named by CNET.com readers (link to previous release) as the item they would most like to take home from the Consumer Electronics Show, beating out new products from tech giants such as Samsung and HP. When the Elio goes to market, it will create 1,500 jobs at the company. In addition, the Elio will use 90 percent North American content, creating another 1,500 jobs at its supplier partner companies. These manufacturing jobs will in turn create approximately 18,000 indirect jobs across the country.

Elio Motors sees multiple markets for its vehicle, including consumers who still need the occasional functionality of a pick-up truck, sport utility vehicle or minivan, but are looking for an affordable, fuel efficient vehicle for their solo driving. The company sees the Elio as an “and” vehicle – purchase a larger vehicle for those times when you need the functionality, but use the Elio for solo commuter trips. For example, 76.3 percent of all commuters drive solo to work every morning according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Source | Photos: Elio Motors.


Jo Borrás

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.