Monday, November 10, 2014

Elio Motors - another flash-in-the-pan?

If you're into cars, you might have already heard about Elio's plans to manufacture and bring to market an American-made three-wheeler. Apart from the opening comments where they imply that petrol in America is expensive (apparently they've never been anywhere else), there are some troubling facts about Elio that are glossed over in their promo video. First, that 84mpg figure. It sounds too good to be true, and it is. Want to know why? Because that's a theoretical number based on a theoretical three-cylinder engine that hasn't been built yet. In fact, the design hasn't even been finalised, so advertising 84mpg is a little rich given that the car is more likely to appear with a Suzuki G10 motor which is capable of a much less ground-breaking 34mpg.
Second, the 5-star safety rating. Or as they put it "anticipated 5 star safety rating". Again - with pre-production prototypes, there's not been any NHTSA testing done so claiming 5-star ratings is misleading. I anticipate making $10M in the next 6 months - that doesn't mean it's going to happen.
Third, no matter how many social networks they try to drum up interest on, they're currently $145M short of their funding goal. Or to put it another way, they only have 27% of the money they need to go into production. And that's even with the claimed 35,000 pre-orders.
And finally, they're extremely vague about important figures. Like performance. Saying that it'll get you on a motorway quicker than you can see "yeehaw" isn't exactly a 0-60 number. And saying that you can get many speeding tickets is pretty vague too. I could get many speeding tickets in/on just about any vehicle - it's not that difficult.
There are other issues too - they don't seem to have figured out their audience. From the design of the car, it's a divorced person with only one child and no luggage, or luggage (small) and no children.
And finally the price - $6800! But wait. If you order now, we'll send you a second one free! Ok so they don't say that but you get the impression that's the market they're aiming for here.
I respect that they want to bring manufacturing and jobs back to the US, but Elio Motors is not Tesla, and judging by what I've seen to-date, they're on target to become the Duke Nukem Forever of car manufacturers.