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Elio Momentum v58 – Prepped and Ready for E-Series Assembly

Body Panels, Powertrain Prepped and Ready for E-Series Assembly

Elio Motors’ Pilot Operations Center in Livonia, Mich., currently is a hotbed of activity in the building of the E-Series vehicles. In this week’s Momentum, we’re taking a look at the arrival of a shipment of body panels and engines/transmissions that have revved up our activities, so to speak.

If you recall, we have our own paint shop in the Pilot Operations Center. This means that the panels are shipped from our supplier, Molded Plastic Industries, primed and ready for paint prep. Because the E-Series vehicles will be hand assembled, the panels are individually painted before they are attached to the frame and vehicle buildup begins.


Elio Motors’ technician prepares the surface of a fender prior to painting.

Body Panels Shine in Anticipation of Assembly

After the body panel surfaces are prepped in the spray booth, our paint technician utilizes the latest in high-volume low-pressure (HVLP) spray equipment to apply the Elio’s water-based finish to the panels. Using HVLP technology is important because the technology increases transfer efficiency, providing better, more consistent coverage than conventional spray guns and minimizes messy overspray. As a result, more of the finish is actually applied to the panels, which is better for our environment, as well as being more cost effective.

Once the panels are dry, they receive a clearcoat, which helps protect the paint. From there, the panels are stored on their fixtures until they’re ready to be assembled onto the next E-Series vehicle.


The Elio’s body panels are painted with a high-solids water-based finish that is applied with high-volume low-pressure (HVLP) spray equipment to minimize waste and protect the environment.

Powertrain – An Efficient Union of Technology and Efficiency

The other system we’re checking out this week is the Elio’s powertrain, which will help the Elio run as sweet as it looks. It consists of a .9 liter, 3-cylinder engine that was designed for us by IAV, mated to a five-speed manual or automatic transmission that is provided by Aisin. In addition to the Elio’s 55 horsepower and 55 lb.-ft. of torque, the vehicle’s up to 84 mpg fuel economy on the highway is expected to help it put more than a few dollars of gas money back in your pocket.

How can the Elio’s powertrain help it to get better fuel economy than some of the most fuel-efficient motorcycles that get 65 mpg, you ask? There are two key reasons. First is aerodynamics, the nuts and bolts of which we’ll talk about more in depth in an upcoming Momentum post. Despite the frontal area of a motorcycle being smaller than the Elio, the overall aerodynamic drag in a motorcycle could be higher, particularly depending on rider position, because the Eliohas an enclosed, streamlined surface.


Designed for Elio Motors by IAV, the Elio’s engine has unique characteristics that will help it achieve up to 84 mpg fuel economy in highway driving.

The second reason is gearing. You may have noticed that most motorcycles, which are built for fun, are designed to maximize acceleration, not fuel economy.The Elio can achieve fuel economy of 20 to 25-percent more because it has taller (higher) gearing that reduced engine speeds. Because the Elio engine was designed to produce high torque on the low end, it doesn’t compromise acceleration from a standing start.

Fuel economy is an Elio Motors’ “Must Have” and one of the key drivers prompting the company to develop its own engine, versus using an off-the-shelf power plant. Because the Elio is significantly lighter than the vehicles that are powered by even the smallest existing engines, their power plants’ DNA destines them to fall short of our 84 mpg highway target.

Keeping costs low for our consumers and making a positive contribution to the environment are just a few of the long term commitments we are striving to achieve in our journey to production.

More on Hari Iyer, Elio Motors Board Member

Last week, we said farewell, and also congratulations, to one of our Elio Motors’ family members, Hari Iyer. Iyer was instrumental in the initial Elio vehicle design, and has helped the company in its strategic operations and engineering by formerly serving as COO. As Paul mentioned, “Hari Iyer has been an important part of the vision and execution in the early stages of Elio Motors, and history will show that he helped change transportation in the United States.”

Iyer will remain on Elio Motors’ Board of Directors and as a strategic advisor for the company’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program application as he launches and serves as CEO of his own start-up,, a car subscription service. And although is not affiliated with Elio Motors, it does share in the same philosophy to change the transportation world.

“Yoyo’s on-demand car subscription model with concierge service is another alternative to help usher in a new era of affordable access to cars,” Iyer said. “The more low-cost transportation solutions that become available, such as the Elio and Yoyo, the greater potential for significant impact.”

According to consulting firm McKinsey, ride sharing and vehicle subscription services could add another $1.5 trillion to the auto industry by 2030.  It seems Iyer has launched at the right time, and we wish him well!

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