Elio Motors sure hopes to be the little three-wheeled car that could. Monday, the automaker announced it is now building its fifth-generation prototype of the high-mileage two-seater. The P5 will include Elio Motors’ recently unveiled 0.9 liter, 3-cylinder engine prototype and a manual transmission.
The Elio’s three-wheeled claim to fame is that it will get 84 MPG and is expected to retail for just $6,800. The P5 is being developed using funds raised in a recent 506 (c) offering made possible by the Jobs Act of 2012, and 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.
“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. “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.”
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. The company turned to engine developer IAV to create a new technology from the ground up. 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 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 and its manufacturing partner Comau (wholly owned by FCA) will build the vehicle at a world-class manufacturing facility in Shreveport, La., where General Motors previously built the Hummer H3 and Chevy Colorado. When the Elio goes to market, it will create 1,500 jobs at the Shreveport facility.
While the company still hopes to be selling these by mid-2016, it’s had a bunch of delays so whether that happens remains to be seen. However, Elio says it already has 43,000 people on a waiting list for one.