Rocket Fuel

Buying Old GM Plant

Does this story sound familiar? A green car startup wants to buy a former General Motors plant, though this time the setting isn’t Delaware, but rather Shreveport, Louisiana. Elio Motors hopes to buy the old GM plant to sell their low-cost, high MPG car.

The Shreveport plant has already seen one would-be green automaker shrivel up and die while waiting for Federal funding. Bright Automotive hoped to build a high-MPG hybrid van at the Shreveport plant, but withered on the vine waiting for DOE funding. Meanwhile in Delaware, Fisker has come under fire for buying a former GM plant, but failing to deliver the jobs that they promised.

Things might turn out differently this time though, as the Elio has a projected cost of just $6,800. That would make it the cheapest car in America, though you get just three wheels instead of four, as it is basically a glorified trike. The Elio does come with a three-year warranty though, and has more than a few safety features that includes three airbags, a reinforced roll-cage frame, anti-lock brakes, and a projected 5-star safety rating.  The website claims 60 MPG and 672 miles to a tank of fuel, though the video claims 84 MPG.

It does also have the potential to be very fun to drive, though the promo video looks like something from the 1990s. Elio Motors was also only able to raise $150,000 from investors, of the $10 million they sought. It will take a lot more money than that to retool the old GM plant.

Elio Motors claims it can support as many as 1,500 jobs, though some analysts and politicians are rightly skeptical. We’ve said before that America could use an ultra-cheap car, but no automaker seems able or willing to do it, at least not in America. Could Elio Motors fill that need?


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