Elio Motors Forms Partnership With Linamar Corp

Elio Motors has formed a partnership with Canadian supplier Linamar Corp to produce the engines for Elio’s three wheel vehicle, which it calls an “autocycle.” Elio has been promising to build its high mileage, low cost eco-trike for years, but has been beset with setback after setback. It now says it is nearly $54 million in debt. But under the guidance of founder and chief executive Paul Elio, it continues to push forward with plans to produce a car that will get 84 mpg and sell for $6,800.

Elio Motors car and CEO

“Elio Motors has developed an engine with a rare blend of power and fuel efficiency that could have significant market potential beyond powering the Elio,” said Elio in a statement. “Linamar will use its global presence and access to international manufacturers in automotive, marine and industrial markets to identify other uses for our engine and open up potential additional revenue for our company.”

Together with IAV, Elio has designed an all new 0.9 liter three cylinder gasoline engine for its super efficient three wheeler, which it has dubbed the E Series. It says it has 50,000 people who have reserved one, if and when it ever goes into production. Together with Linamar, it thinks the engine could see service in other automotive, marine, and industrial applications.

“Not only does this give us great penetration into ultra-high mileage vehicles, it also gives us a chance to sell this highly efficient engine to a variety of markets and customers,” Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz said in a statement. Linamar will be a component and sub-system supplier for Elio Motors’ other driveline and chassis systems in North America, Hasenfratz says.

Elio says the engine will be manufactured at its Shreveport, La., assembly plant. It is targeting 2017 for the start of production, which is nearly 3 years later than originally planned.

With respect to production of the car itself, the company has said it plans to assemble test vehicles at a pilot operations center in Livonia, Michigan. There is no word from the company about when actual production of the E Series might begin. Some are skeptical it ever will.

The Elio E Series will compete with various electric cars like the Nissan LEAF — cars that have fairly limited range and are used primarily for driving less than 50 miles a day. Will a small three wheeler that gets great gas mileage be able to attract enough customers to be profitable? There are potentially a lot of people who would rather spend $6,800 on a commuter vehicle than $29,010 for the least expensive Nissan LEAF.

Even after the federal tax credit available to LEAF buyers, the Elio will still be less than 1/3 the price. It costs less than many ATVs and it’s street legal. If the car ever gets built, it may appeal to quite a few shoppers who don’t want to save the earth, but just want to get back and forth to work without spending a lot of money.

Source and photo credit: Automotive News

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.