Elio Motors’ E-Series, a three-wheel, two-person personal transportation vehicles, is a step closer to production reality, according to the company, which debuted its E1c, an engineering vehicle that is a proof of concept that the company can deliver an assembly-line produced vehicle during the media preview days at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show.
While the vehicle is being positioned as a personal transport for low-income Americans, there has been high fleet interest for the Elio E-Series from fleets, according to Tim Andrews, senior vice president of marketing for Elio Motors.
Andrews said that there is high interest among the food service and pest control industries in the vehicle, which is expected to have a base price of $7,300, and get 84 mpg, and will be able to cruise at highway speeds to a maximum 100 mph.
The vehicle is classified as a motorcycle, and currently, in 48 states, will not require the driver to wear a helmet or have a motorcycle license.
Because it is classified as a motorcycle, drivers will be able to take advantage of HOV lanes in states with these lanes according to Andrews.
The engineering vehicle features a number of advances from the previous iteration, including safety features such as a steel cage construction and a driver and curtain air bags—which will all deploy simultaneously in the event of a collision. An optional back up camera is available (since the vehicle is classified as a motorcycle it is not required to have a backup camera).
More important for fleets, maintenance will be provided by Pep Boys.
The E1c features a unibody frame, which was developed specifically for Elio Motors by the Elio Motors engineering team, Schwab Industries and Roush Engineering. In addition to the safety benefits, the unibody frame also will improve the production vehicle's fit and finish and will manufacturability, according to the automaker.
The modified suspension will sharpen handling and improve aerodynamics, improve long-term vehicle durability and reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), according to the automaker.
Elio Motors has a fleet program, which will include volume discounts per the company’s web site and the ability to include branding and wraps, according to Andrews.
In addition to its capabilities, several fleets have expressed interest in the vehicle because it will be 100% American made.
“Fleets are supporting the cause of bringing back jobs to America,” said Andrews.
The Elio Motors E-Series will be produced at a plant in Shreveport, La., which will employ about 1,500 workers, according to Andrews. The company expects to produce 250,000 E-Series vehicles by 2018. The first E-Series vehicles are expected to roll off the assembly line in late 2017.
The company will set up a retail dealership model, similar to Tesla’s.