The Detroit Free Press reports (Jan. 4) that the former General Motors plant near Shreveport, LA. has been sold to Elio Motors, a start-up carmaker, who reportedly plans to use about 1 million square feet of the property to manufacture a new three-wheeled vehicle called the Elio.
The former GM assembly plant last manufactured the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon before it shut down last year. It was also the assembly plant for the Hummer that was discontinued earlier.
Elio Motors based in Phoenix, AZ, is reportedly planning to begin production of their uniquely designed new vehicle sometime in 2014.
The Elio is three-wheel, dual seat, gas powered vehicle according to their website. The three- wheel design gives the Elio what some call a tadpole shape from the front wheel drive dual wheels in the front to the single wheel assembly at the rear.
According to the designer, Paul Elio, the vehicle premise is to deliver a low price and high mileage with this unique design. The vehicle will be classified as a motorcycle by the government.
The Elio is planned to be priced at $6,800 and attain 84 mpg on the highway. In combined city/highway driving, that number may be closer to 60 mpg, but still well ahead of other gas powered vehicles in the marketplace.
Elio will come equipped with three airbags around the cockpit with a reinforced roll-cage frame of ABS offering 50% larger crush zones than similar vehicles. The Elio website says, that according to computer simulations, the Elio should be able to achieve a 5-Star safety rating.
A posting on the Elio Facebook page says that they will power the vehicle with an inline 3 cylinder, 1 liter, 70 HP, fuel injected, DOHC gas powered, liquid cooled automotive engine. The transmission will be either a 5-speed manual or automatic. The top speed is in excess of 100 MPH, and the 0-60 speed is under 9.6 sec. The ground clearance will be 5.75 inches.
The Facebook posting, Jan. 6, says that it will have three wheel disc brakes with ABS on 15-inch wheels. Body panels will be of composite attached to the rigid frame to minimize noise in the cockpit. Heater, defrost, A/C, tempered glass, windshield wipers and airbags plus AM/FM radio will all be standard.
The Elio will have a trunk of “at least” 27″ x 14″ x 10″, enough for a overnight bag. With the rear seat folded down, a set of golf clubs can be accommodated.
The Elio was first shown in 2008 and Elio has been working on putting together their start-up capital and finding a production location since. Only design prototypes of the Elio exist, but Elio Motors say they are ready to begin production as soon as the plant is set up.
Elio Motor is taking reservations via another Facebook page that has some interesting twists. You can reserve your place for ordering an Elio at four deposit levels ($100, $250, $500 and $1,000).
For the $100, you get a discount of $150 off the purchase price plus a limited edition T-shirt and a bumper sticker.
At the $1,000 level you get priority delivery as they are produced plus a $1,500 discount off the purchase price.
The property was sold to Elio Motors by the RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust. The Trust was assigned responsibility for disposal of 89 former GM properties in 14 states following the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of 2009. GM had been leasing the plant since the bankruptcy to manufacture midsize pickup trucks until closing production last year.