Elio, which claims it has introduced a revolutionary lightweight, high-gas mileage, inexpensive car, has a problem. Orders for the vehicle are barely above 26,000 (26,896 as of August 10) just two weeks before its ends it special offer to draw customers. And this is after a tidal wave of press coverage about the tiny vehicle.
Elio’s appeal to customers is simple:
The Elio is a revolutionary new approach in transportation engineered to achieve 4 key “Must Haves”:
84 MPG Highway (gas powered 3 cyl.)
American Made (utilizing 90% North American content)
Engineered to the highest safety standard
$6,800 (starting price)
And yes, it’s the real deal. Many call it the next big thing in transportation, or simply ingenious
Demand for the “next big thing” is usually better, even with a deal which allows people to order the car before September 2 without incurring an upcoming 25% non-refundable reservation deposit.
Among the objections to the Elio is certainly that it is not safe, at least compared to much larger, heavier cars. Elio comes with a “Safety Management System [that] includes three airbags, a reinforced roll-cage frame and Anti-Lock Braking System.” But can those things help passengers if an Elio gets into a high-speed accident against a two-ton car or much larger truck? In an accident, most drivers would prefer to be in the heavier vehicles.
Elio has plenty of reasons other than the car itself to get people to make orders. For those who put down a $1,000 non-refundable deposit before the September 1 deadline, a customer gets a T-shirt and bumper sticker — although these are in limited supplies.
If Elio can survive on a few tens-of-thousands or orders, it will have done a great deal more than building a small car with good gas mileage. It may be the only non-luxury manufacturer that can operate with such a tiny handful of customers.