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Technology Tell – We lay eyes on the Elio at NY International Auto Show

SOURCE: Technology Tell

Last but not least in the steady stream of press conferences at New York International Auto Show was Elio — the vehicle we are fascinated with here as it promises to offer transportation with insane MPGs at a price less than $7K.

NYIAS was the first time I got to hear Paul Elio speak in person, and he came off very professional.  About the only question he had to bow out of and admit he was not an expert in was specific questions about the IAV built engine that we have thoroughly discussed.

Paul Elio discusses the merits of the vehicle. With his feet blocking the open wheels, you would think you are looking at a Flat Stanley Mustang. (Brett Solomon photo)

When I first saw an Elio prototype, it was much rougher. The steering wheel looked positively third-world off of what looked like an 80s Toyota or Isuzu product. But what a difference some nice seats, a nicely-designed steering wheel, and some chrome HVAC knobs can do to class up the joint — not that the joint is considerably large. The whole package is much more chiseled now and really looks like it can become a reality.

All vehicles reportedly will include air conditioning, power windows and lock — the Elio only has one door, remember, — and an AM/FM stereo. You’ll go to your Elio storefront dealer and then choose from an options list, the company says. Then the vehicle gets delivered to the storefront the next day with your options installed — some including leather seats or blind-spot-detecting mirrors.

A Brett Solomon fits well in the Elio. I am not the arbiter of headroom, but tall people can definitely apply. I dug the perfect placement of the shifter. It'll be odd with a manual and being able to smack the passenger side when shifting into 5th gear. (Brett Solomon photo)

Paul Elio was insistent that the two things that mattered to him most are safety and handling. One hurdle the company is discussing with NHTSA is offset crash testing with crab angles suitable for the vehicle to make it fair compared to vehicles with exoskeletons, so to speak, but that still will test the limits of the structure and how it fairs against “normal” cars. He also discussed the partnership with Cooper Tires and the special tires they developed for the car to achieve the astounding-touted 84 MPG highway.

From the back you can see that the Elio is one svelte vehicle. It goes well with the NYC booth models at other manufacturers. (Brett Solomon photo)

Clearly, the Elio is not for everyone, but probably everyone would like to have it as a commuter, city car, or something to use when full-size isn’t needed. Indeed, the looks are polarizing to the casual non-car person, but for us in-the-know, we can appreciate a vehicle designed for the purpose of transporting its passengers in comfort while merely sipping on gas.

We hope to be among the first to test one.

The new steering wheel and contrasting seat stitching really classes the place up. (Brett Solomon photo)




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