Autos

Elio Sales of $6,800 Car Slow

elio1
Source: courtesy of Elio Motors
Elio sells a $6,800 car. It is supposed to be the next stage of driving in America. As an alternative to the explosion of luxury-car, gas-guzzler sales, Elio offers a vehicle that gets 84 mpg. The trouble with the idea is that, based on the company’s site, it has orders for 34,812 cars through September 28 — hardly a figure on which a manufacture can build a successful automobile business.

There are several ways buyers can reserve a car online. Each gives the buyers a different level of access to the Elio once its launches.

For $1,000:

This is the ONLY level that locks you into a confirmed position on the non-refundable reservation list. You will receive a certificate that specifies and confirms your position by number. We’ll also add a bonus of $250 to your $1,000, for a total of $1,250 to apply to the purchase of your Elio. Plus, you will receive a limited edition Elio T-Shirt and bumper sticker.

The T-shirt is a nifty idea, but is not likely to be enough of an incentive to drive sales.

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For $500:

This gets you on the “next in line” list just behind the $1,000 group. We’ll also add a bonus of $125 to your $500, for a total of $625 to apply to the purchase of your Elio. Plus, you will receive a limited edition Elio T-Shirt and bumper sticker. Upgradable reservation.

And for $250:

This gets you on the “next in line” list just behind the $500 group. We’ll also add a bonus of $65 to your $250, for a total of $315 to apply to the purchase of your Elio. Plus, you will receive a limited edition Elio T-Shirt and bumper sticker. Upgradable reservation.

It would seem that these kinds of deals would trigger a flood of purchases, but obviously they have not.

One of drawbacks of Elio is that it does not have its own service centers. The work is done by car parts company Pep Boys: Manny, Moe & Jack (NYSE: PBY).

It may be that consumers believe the car is too dangerous, although the company promotes the car as safe:

Each Elio comes equipped with a Safety Management System that includes three airbags — a reinforced roll-cage frame, Anti-Lock Braking System, and 50% larger crush zones than similar vehicles.

It will not win in a collision with a much larger vehicle.

Elio will not start to produce cars until about September 2015. That is a long time to wait in line.

Elio has had underwhelming orders. Perhaps that is because people cannot buy one now. Or, the car may have too little attraction to even reach the level of being a niche automobile.

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