Following Elio Motors: Why Less Makes More

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Elio Motors car

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As any a hard-eyed cynic might say, “You gets what ‘yer pay for”; and while this sentiment appears to be accurate more times than not, occasionally the inverse holds true, and particularly in the case of the new Elio three-wheeled reversie.

Now, at the outset, I have to say that I think when it comes to designing modern auto products, Paul Elio is a pretty smart guy – he figured out a way to finally resolve today’s ‘customer-value versus final-price’ riddle.

Figure it this way: he’s packed all of today’s auto amenities into a tadpole roller that takes up about half of the overall space of a traditional four-wheeler. On top of that, his car provides for all-weather climate protection for driver and passenger, leverages a driving process that harbors the past yet suggests the future, runs at highway speeds, and avoids all the environmental claptrap regarding ‘sustainability’, by only requiring a sip of fuel to get from here to there and back.

Then, in addition to all of that customer comfort, he’s also established an all-in sales price point that is four times less than an average home down payment, and at least one and a half times less than the average auto loan down payment.

Now, how he has managed to put all of this together remains to be seen from a manufacturing cost perspective. We’ve reached out to the company for comment, but received no response to our query yet. Nevertheless, some of the more obvious less costly elements occur in a simple technical ‘look-around.’ For example:

  • The Elio is driven by a IAV three-cylinder engine. The engine itself is therefore much less expensive to design and manufacturer.
  • The elimination of ‘one whole corner’ of the car’s suspension also reduces the car’s overall manufacturing cost.
  • The overall size of the package itself both inside and outside, reduces overall cost by minimizing raw and/or finished materials for the production of interior/exterior fascias, body panels, seats, the single side-door assemblies, reduced lighting, seats etc.


Granted, this is only what we’re able to discern by looking at drawings, static images and videos, but regardless the car still makes more sense than an entire shelf of Polly’s pies; and to be direct, that’s a whole lot of pies indeed.

So, even though many skeptics continue to assert that the Elio won’t sell as advertised once it finally starts its production run, I wouldn’t bet against the company. Because when it comes to this design, and this price, someone at the company clearly has his/her/their heads screwed on right; and more’s the better for the rest of us.

  • Rick Carlton

    Rick Carlton has worked as a journalist, writer, researcher, editor, publisher and technologies professional for many years. His bylines have appeared in a host of domestic/international newspaper, magazine and online outlets including; The Auto Channel, Finland’s Teknikan Maalma, Unilever’s The Adrenalist, The Tribune Newspapers, The Austin Business Journal, Crutchfield Labs Research, Crowdfunding Guide and National Business Media’s magazine group. In addition to his publishing career, he served as a C-Level executive/consultant for a wide-range of private and public sector companies, and also taught as a professional instructor within the Coastline Community and Cerritos College systems. He has also served as a press/media consultant for a range of professional motorsports organizations including work for Diamond Rio Racing (NASCAR), Taylor Racing (ARCA), Jimmy Wellman Racing (NASCAR), and others.

What do you think? Leave a comment!