Elio Motors, a start up that’s been given up for dead more than once during the past seven years, says it has begun work on its fifth generation prototype of its light-weight, ultra high-mileage vehicle, which is now slated to reach production next year.
The company is targeting a launch date of mid-2016 for its three-wheeled “car” that will get up to 84 mpg and is expected to retail for $6,800. The P5 is being developed using funds raised through a provision of the Jobs Act of 2012, which allows accredited investors to buy in to Elio Motors.
The P5 is the first in a series of 26 prototypes, codenamed P5 through P30 that will be developed for a variety of testing and validation purposes, according to Paul Elio, the company’s founder, who has persevered against some long odds to get the his vehicle to the pre-production stage.
“The P5 build is another important step in our march toward production and is the culmination of several important strategic initiatives we have completed or launched in the past several months,” said Paul Elio, founder and CEO of Elio Motors. Interest in three-wheeled vehicles has grown in recent years with introduction of three-wheeled motorcycles, which typically are more expensive than the proposed price of the Elio.
Along the way, Elio Motors has picked up support from a number of key suppliers, including IAV, Aisin and Comau, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. “The completion of our engine prototype, our offering to accredited investors and our recent supplier summit are all excellent examples of the progress we continue to make every day,” Elio said.
The supplier summit, a supply chain management technique employed by Elio Motors, provides an opportunity for all of the company’s suppliers to come together in one room and meet on a regular basis to discuss every aspect of the vehicle’s design and manufacturability.
“We are fortunate to work with some of the most well-respected and notable auto supplier companies in the world,” Elio said.
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“We also have given them a voice in our development that they typically do not have working with traditional manufacturers. As we look to better refine the vehicle design and add to our fuel efficiency, the critical thinking delivered by our supplier team is what has enabled us to get where we are today,” he said.
In addition to updated styling that has been driven by aerodynamic improvements, two of the most critical elements being added to the P5 are the engine and the transmission. The enclosed, three-wheeled Elio vehicle requires a unique blend of power and efficiency.
Elio Motors is the first start-up auto company in the Unites States in the past 60 years to build its own unique internal combustion engine. The engine was developed by IAV to create a new technology from the ground up.
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The transmission on the P5 will be a Multi-mode Manual Transmission from Aisin the world’s largest transmission manufacturer.
“The engine and transmission are key elements in creating driving characteristics that consumers demand,” Elio said. “Fuel economy is obviously important, but we still need speed and acceleration that are comparable to today’s passenger vehicles. Both the engine and transmission put us well on this path,” Elio said.
Elio and its manufacturing partner Comau will build the vehicle at a manufacturing facility in Shreveport, Louisiana, where General Motors previously built the Hummer H3 and Chevy Colorado.
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When the Elio goes to market, the company expects to create 1,500 jobs at the Shreveport facility. In addition, the Elio will use 90% North American content, creating another 1,500 jobs at its supplier partner companies, the company said.