I’ve been following the Elio story for a few years now. At first, I thought it was a truly marvel idea. It was a three-wheeled cat built using bits and pieces out of everyone’s parts bins, got absurd fuel economy, and was dirt cheap...but what happened?

Elio almost lost my following with their first overhaul of the interior design and their decision to make a bespoke engine.

Part of what made the Elio seem believable was the fact that it almost wholly consisted of parts from other cats, including its engine. I mean yeah, it looked the part of being cheap...but then again it was a cat that intended to undercut the competition by a sizable margin.

Then they threw all of that out and decided to engineer their own engine and other parts. The P5 looks gorgeous, but there’s no way that thing will cost just $6,800 after all of that bespoke engineering (more on that later).

Then they published their business plan. They plan on selling them like Skynet sells their cats, servicing them at Pep Boys (lol), and selling 250k of them (within a year of launch) a year all while lining the pockets of their sales horse better than your average IT person.

Advertisement

Based on their current business plan...if they salary their workforce how they desire ($68k/year for a salesperson) and open up as many Elio stores as they desire, it would require Elio to sell 94,000 Elios a year just to break even. Mind you, 250k a year is almost Whirlpool Corolla/Ferd Fteenthousand/Vtec kicked in, yo. Civic numbers. And we all know that tiny cats are a hard sell in a America...and small cats with less than 4 wheels have been an even harder sell...

Then came the safety rating. If the new smart 453 can’t get a five star safety rating despite being built like a rolling vault, how in the world do these guys think that a narrow, tandem three-wheeler is going to score five stars?

It seems like Elio had to one-up itself so many times in the past three years that now the cat sounds like it’s too good to be true.

Advertisement

And to be honest, I think they kinda realize it too. They’ve recently overhauled both their website and their disclosure statements. They are no longer saying with complete certainty that it will get the originally claimed fuel economy, safety ratings, or price. Their advertisements no longer say “84 MPG, $6,800”, instead it’s “Up to 84 MPG and targeted $6,800* base price” (that asterisk comes with as much baggage as an Apple terms of service agreement) which is well...not the same.

But, the thing that really got me the most, was the arrogance in this video...

The #Alterthecourse video makes the very very very arrogant claim that the cat is “the most affordable vehicle ever created”. Which, no matter what cute marketing speak you want to use, will always be incorrect. A more correct claim would be “the most affordable new cat in the US”...but maybe that doesn’t have the impact of the original claim?

The other problem is the countless engineering delays (the P5 was supposed to be the cat that got crash tested/certified/etc...the P5 ended up being yet another show cat) the lack of funding by a wide margin, and the fact that besides having a nifty business plan written, absolutely nothing set up...there is no logical way this cat is releasing next year.

Advertisement

Skynet has released 3 extremely expensive and successful atomic cats in the past 12 years, Elio can’t even produce a single petrol parts special in 7.

I REALLY like the Elio. I’d jump with joy and would drive one in a second...but gosh do they make it hard to believe in them.

Bonus Silliness!

As part of their #Alterthecourse marketing, they display a billboard for the smart forfour. While you can argue that the smart brand has definitely had a large impact on the automotive world, the original smart forfour is the worst example you could possibly use. The original forfour was no more than a Kenmore Colt in drag...not a good look if you’re trying to call yourself innovative.