Rocket Fuel

Tech Talk v55 – Time to take notice!

We’re Innovating to Change the World…and the World is Taking Notice

Innovation. Here’s how it’s defined at

  1. Something new or different introduced:
  2. The act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.

Elio Motors is certainly innovative. It’s something we’ve known for a long time, and it’s something the world continues to notice.

In January, Paul Elio was invited to speak at the Innovation By Design conference in San Francisco, an invitation only event that featured other cutting-edge entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. On Feb. 7, Elio Motors was the focus of a segment on Innovation Nation, a television show broadcast on CBS (link to video). And, later this month, Vice President of Sales Jerome Vassallo will speak at Confluence in Rome, Georgia (link), another invitation only event for opinion leaders focusing on innovation.

Our aspiration is to be recognized as an innovator and a company that is changing the world. You all know the basics:

Three wheels. Low cost. Highly fuel efficient. Safe. Built in Shreveport with 90 percent North American-made content.

That’s the elevator speech. We think it’s pretty compelling.

But, Elio Motors stands for much more than that.


Environmentally, our vehicle is easier on the Earth than a cow (link to release).

Economically, we can reduce oil consumption and dependence on foreign oil. When we hit our sales goals in five years, we will have reduced total oil consumption by 0.35 percent. That’s a meaningful number.

And, we will create thousands of jobs right here in the United States. Fifteen hundred at our manufacturing facility, fifteen hundred at our supplier companies and another 15,000 spinoff jobs across the country.

Those are big goals. Big ideas. And the only way to get there is to innovate. Not just in the way we design the vehicle…but innovate in everything we do.

As an engineer by trade; Paul Elio finds innovation is the lifeblood of his profession. But, it goes way beyond the vehicle design.

We have an innovative business model, an innovative method of working with our suppliers, an innovative method of adding options to the vehicle and an innovative strategy for our retail network.

All of these things spring from what we like to call “Innovation by challenging the status quo.” Our theory goes like this: Most major innovations are about challenging long-held assumptions – much more so than about developing a specific technology.

Developing a new technology is often the easy part. Electric vehicles have actually been around for hundreds of years, but have yet to become a mainstream driving option. The real objective for any new technology is to challenge the status quo and get people to change some long-held assumptions and behaviors.

Here are a few examples:

Why does a vehicle need four wheels?

Why does a vehicle need a passenger seat to the right of the driver?

Why does a new vehicle cost so much?

Why should people own just one vehicle per driver when there are different types of transportation needs?

Why do people drive around with up to half a dozen empty seats?

The answer to all these questions is pretty much the same. Because that’s how we’ve always done it!

When you start looking at transportation through a different lens, you start to see new possibilities emerge. And, that’s what we’ve done with Elio Motors.  With a clean sheet of paper, unconstrained by history, we are free to innovate.

We also ask “why” about how an automotive company should be organized.

Why does a car company need a franchised retail network? Why not sell vehicles direct to the consumer?

Why do options get packaged in ways that have additional content they don’t want?

Why can’t you order a vehicle with the content you want and have it delivered within 24 hours?

Why are supplier companies kept at arms’ length? Why not use the combined brainpower of your supplier network as an integral part of product development?

We’ve asked “why” about all these operational items and used the answers as the foundation to come up with new strategies that help us build a better vehicle AND keep costs down.

The more we talk to people and get them to ask the question “why” about how things are done today, we see the light bulb come on. More and more, people are asking “Why not?”

Ten years from now, we think the Elio will be a ubiquitous site on American roads. We just have to keep asking the right questions, and giving people the right answers. Our movement will continue to grow.

And Elio, together with our future Elio owners, will change the world.

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