A major development is brewing in the auto industry, and it has nothing to do with electric car proponent Elon Musk, a media darling who might more properly be considered a welfare queen given the amount of government subsidies floating his companies.
On the other hand, you likely have not heard of Paul Elio, whose company is preparing to bring out a small, uber-efficient car. The claim is that the Elio will get over 80 miles per gallon with a base sticker price well under $10,000. Why so little press? Eric Peters explains:
It’s not electric – and so the Elio gets no love (much less coverage) from the media. … As long as [a new car] has batteries or fuel cells or solar panels … no matter how functionally impaired or expensive these may be, the media will spasm on the floor in ecstasy like a Labrador retriever pup with a new chew toy. They will write stories more like love sonnets about the magnificence of whatever it is, provided it doesn’t use "old" and "dirty" technology.
Those stories don’t look at the complete picture, as Eric explains:
Electricity does not spontaneously appear out of the Void. It must be generated – and that requires (well, mostly involves) the burning of coal and oil, which produces emissions … just elsewhere. Probably, more of them than the little Elio produces.
The reason Mr. Elio projects such a low price (the actual goal is under $8,000) is that he will produce a three-wheel car powered by an engine roughly equivalent to a big motorcycle’s. Two of the wheels are in front. There is one door, opening to front and rear seats sufficiently big for everyone save NBA players.
- Underpowered, you say. Not at all. The spec sheet says the Elio has a top speed of more than 100 mph.
- Garishly ugly? Well, the Sour Apple color probably isn’t for everybody, but Red Hot and True Blue look better than those hideous yellow Range Rovers I see all the time.
- A death trap? The Elio has many safety features, but you may have me on that one. The relatively slow acceleration speed (zero to 60 in 9.6 seconds) could spell doom in a place like Atlanta, which has the wildest traffic north of Mexico City.
The Elio website explains how the smallest details were re-engineered to bring costs down. The company’s IPO was crowdfunded; more than 19,400 non-refundable $1,000 deposits on cars are on the books and a modest cable TV ad campaign has been launched.
Can’t scrape up ten grand to pay cash? Elio Motors plans to roll out a unique financing plan.
“Each time you fuel up, there will be an extra charge equal to twice the fuel amount. That would then automatically apply to the vehicle price. Think of it this way: Depending on your driving habits and the price of gas, for about what you have been paying to fuel your existing vehicle, you can fuel your Elio and buy it too!”
This whole company is the kind of American ingenuity that gets too little respect.