The Elio: People's Car or Just a Crazy Idea?
The term “people’s car” has a long history in the automotive world. I refer not to one particular model, but rather to the concept of a cheap, reliable vehicle that can haul the average Joe or Jane back and forth in comfort and safety. The Model T was the original attempt at creating such a car, followed in the 1940s by the VW Beetle. The Yugo was billed as the everyman’s ride of the 1980s, until it became apparent that it could barely make it off the dealer’s lot without exploding.
And now another contender has arisen for the title. Known as the Elio, it’s set for release next year. But whether it will turn out to be a smash or just trash is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure: the designer knows how to think outside the box. The Elio isn’t a “car” in the standard sense of the word. Rather it’s a three-wheeled motorcycle with a metal casing around it for climate control. As far as aesthetics is concerned, it’s futuristic, minimalist, and, IMO anyway, cool-looking…well, except for the way the rear juts out like a giant schnozzle.
The builders claim it will get 84 mpg, which is more than twice the fuel economy of gas-sippers like the Honda Civic. The company says that it has an “anticipated” AAA safety rating due to its three air bags. I wouldn’t rate its chances of surviving a collision with a full-size pickup truck as being very good, though. The Elio is a two-seater, with the passenger ensconced directly behind the driver. With only one person aboard it could carry a few bags of groceries in the rear seat. The company has acquired an old car factory in Louisiana to build production models, so if it succeeds a lot of Americans will benefit. The Elio’s best feature is its price: $6800.00. You can reserve one today for $1000.00. If anyone wants to cover the tab for me, then I’ll drive one for a year and let you know how it rides. Fair enough?