E-Series Chassis and Frame Improvements Provide Significant Advantages
As Elio Motors continues to make progress toward commercial production of the Elio, the team also collectively focuses on four Elio “Must Haves,” which are etched indelibly in our minds and hearts. If you’ve been reading the Momentum for any length of time, you know them as:
- Amazing MPG
- Uncompromised Safety
- Make it in America
- Ultra-Low Price
Throughout our E-Series journey, we continue to learn at every step. This often means that refinements will be made to the design to improve the Elio, making it more fully embody the “Must Haves.”
The Elio’s frame has evolved from tubular construction to unibody, providing numerous performance and manufacturing advantages.
One of these improvements is in the Elio’s frame. According to Jeff Johnston, Vice President of Engineering for Elio Motors, the original design of the Elio, which called for its frame to be of tubular frame construction, has evolved to a unibody design. The change, precipitated by discussions between the supply and development teams, shifted to this known technology for a number of reasons.
- Enhanced Safety – Johnston said utilizing unibody construction allowed the Elio engineering team to tune the crumple zones that are designed into the vehicle in order to maximize safety. Because protecting occupants in the event of an impact or collision is the most important job of the vehicle’s frame, crashworthiness is paramount.
- Improved Fit and Finish – To ensure that your Elio looks its best from delivery throughout your ownership experience, the switch to unibody will help to ensure uniform tolerances in each vehicle’s dimensions, both inside and outside your Elio. A tighter, more consistent frame will mean less variation, which Johnston said is the bane of manufacturers, whether they’re building a vehicle or an electronic device like a mobile phone or a tablet. This not only helps make the door, hood, trunk and body panels of the Elio fit properly, it also helps ensure that components don’t squeak, rattle, leak air or water, or allow in any excess noise.
- Better Handling and Performance – This also ties back to the “Uncompromised Safety,” Must Have, in that better handling enhances the safety of yourElio in the event you need to make an evasive maneuver or encounter unexpected road debris.
- Better Manufacturability – According to Elio Motors’ manufacturing guru, Gino Raffin, who is Vice President of Manufacturing and Product Launch, ensuring good design is paramount for functional manufacturability, which delivers higher part accuracy and quality-to-the-end product. “This process will help us keep high build quality in our low-cost vehicle.” Couple good design with a robust architecture and manufacturing processes, and you end up with a solid product.”
Raffin said that an additional benefit is reduced welding in the build process, which leads to a better environment for our technicians and addresses our number one operational responsibility: team safety.
“Our intense focus on improving the Elio’s design during the testing and validation process ultimately will result in a higher quality, better performing, safer vehicle for our customers,” said Johnston. “After all, they deserve that extra attention to detail, given their Elio will be taking them on adventures for many years and miles to come.”
The move to a unibody frame for the Elio is a very positive decision that provides many “Must Have” advantages for Elio owners. The combination of enhanced safety, improved fit and finish, and better handling and performance will make it more robust and suitable for a variety of driving situations – from business to pleasure.