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Elio Momentum v64 | Behind the Scenes: Elio Motors’ Supplier Summit

Elio Motors Supplier Summit promotes teamwork, recognizes expertise of “seasoned veteran” engineering partners in Elio game plan

Legendary New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra had a unique way with words. Among his quips:

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Or, “It’s like déjà vu’ all over again.”

But, behind these somewhat comedic linguistic blunders often lies a kernel of truth. In fact, one of his famous quotes actually underscores the importance of our supplier teamwork.

Yogi said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.“

How does this apply to business? When you have so many organizations and people playing a role in bringing a product to market, it’s mission critical to make sure everyone is moving in the same direction. That’s why we have regular supplier summits – to make sure all the people and companies contributing to Elio Motors’ success are all using the same map.


Networking is an important part of the Supplier Summit, where opportunities are discussed and relationships forged.

Elio Motors’ recent Supplier Summit, held on July 21 for its entire supplier partner team, was conducted to build relationships among its suppliers, share information about elements of the Elio vehicle on which they commonly work and update the team about the continual progress of Elio Motors.

Do other automakers have supplier partner meetings? Sure they do. Are they anything like Elio Motors’ Supplier Summit? Not a chance. Last week’s summit brought together 150 supplier representatives in Troy, Mich., in an all-day interactive meeting where suppliers were encouraged to share their suggestions and expertise based on decades of auto industry experience.


Paul Elio opens with some PowerPoint humor during his presentation at the recent Elio Motors Supplier Summit.

Elio Motors’ unique perspective on how much design knowledge a supplier can contribute to a vehicle project has its roots in Paul Elio’s experience as a young engineer. While working for mega supplier Johnson Controls, Paul had an idea that could potentially save his customer a lot of money by simply moving the position of a bolt hole a few inches. But, as often happens when working with a large, bureaucratic organization, Paul’s cost savings ideas never saw the light of day.

That experience showed Paul how important it is for manufacturer and supplier to navigate together. Elio Motors often turns to its supplier partners the way Lewis and Clark turned to their Indian guide, Sacagawea, when they explored the Northwest. Sometimes, it’s good to incorporate the input from experts with proven track records.

“We ask ‘seasoned veteran’ suppliers that typically have decades of automotive experience to come help us develop the vehicle, versus us telling them, for example, that we need a battery that fits a certain dimension or that it should have this amperage or fit in this space,” Paul said. “We say, ‘You’re part of the Power Team, and we want you to come to the meeting to contribute ideas.’”

Paul said that, when given the opportunity to provide suggestions and ideas, suppliers usually contribute very creative solutions – some complex, that involve integrating alternative technology, and some as simple as moving components for efficiency or switching their location. All of these ideas ultimately help save hundreds of dollars, and on a vehicle with a targeted base price of $6,800, every dollar counts! The end result of allowing supplier partners to contribute ideas is that the customer, ultimately, will get an Elio that is the best it possibly can be.

So, when it comes to choosing your strategic direction in product development for a vehicle like the Elio, it’s important not only to sign seasoned players, but also to have a good game plan and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll likely be following Yogi Berra’s other directional philosophy: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

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