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Consumer Reports 2014 Top Picks Article

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Consumer Reports 2014 Top Picks, elderly drivers safer

Is it a car or a motorcycle?

Elio Motors Inc., a Phoenix startup, says more than 10,046 people have signed up to buy its aerodynamic, three-wheeled enclosed vehicle.

The three-cylinder, 84-horsepower vehicle, which some liken to a motorcycle with a cabin, is aimed squarely at city or suburban dwellers who need an inexpensive commuter vehicle that’s easy on fuel but is fun to drive. It’s touted as a low-cost alternative for those quick runs to do errands or zip to work or school. There’s one passenger seat directly in back of the driver and a bit of storage in the tail.

Company founder and Chief Executive Officer Paul Elio hopes the $6,800 sticker price will have buyers lining up to plunk down deposits at Elio says the 1,200-pound vehicle will go more than 80 miles on a gallon of gas and expects it to earn a 5-star crash test rating with its three air bags and disc anti-lock brakes. Amenities include power windows, power door locks, an AM-FM radio and air conditioning.

The vehicle’s eight-gallon tank should give it a range of more than 670 miles using regular unleaded.

“We’re not just creating a new vehicle,” Elio said in a release. “We’re creating an entirely new industry segment that appeals to people who want a low-cost, highly efficient mode of transportation, but still want to own a unique vehicle that will turn some heads.”

The first Elios are scheduled to start coming off an assembly line in a portion of the former General Motors Shreveport Assembly and Stamping Plant in Louisiana in summer 2015.

The company eventually hopes to make a quarter million Elios a year with a workforce of 1,500 growing to 3,000. The Elios will have more than 90 percent North American content using existing and proven parts.

Elio showed off a prototype of the personal transportation vehicle last week outside the Senate Office building on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Will it happen? Elio, an engineer, told the Phoenix Business Journal, “If you had asked me to invest in bottled water before it was successful, I could not have seen it — water for more money per gallon than gasoline.”

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