PHOENIX — Elio Motors, the Arizona start-up that plans to begin full production of its three-wheeled car next year, has established a test facility in Livonia, Michigan, and says it intends to ship 100 pre-production models by the end of 2016.
Elio's Pilot Operations Center will have responsibility for assembling its E-Series vehicles, which will be used to conduct safety, system performance and durability tests.
"Beginning the E-Series assembly is another important milestone in our journey toward production, as these test vehicles will allow our engineering and supplier teams to evaluate and validate our design," said CEO Paul Elio in a statement. "Commencement of the build will be another tangible sign of the progress we continue to make every day in our unrelenting quest to get this vehicle to market."
Elio Motors notes that the Detroit area was chosen as the site for the Pilot Operations Center because of its proximity to the majority of the company's original equipment suppliers and because it is adjacent to Technosports Creative, the firm that built Elio's P2 through P5 prototypes.
The findings from the E-Series vehicles will be transferred from the new testing center to the company's production facility, a former General Motors assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the 100 pre-production models will be built.
The pre-production vehicles will then be put to the test in real-world driving conditions by select fleet customers before full-scale manufacturing begins in earnest in 2017, about three years later than the target date initially announced by Elio.
Elio Motors says it has received more than 50,000 pre-orders for its three-wheeled vehicle that is said to get up to 84 mpg and have a targeted base price of $6,800.
The Elio, with two wheels in front and one in back, is powered by a liquid-cooled, 0.9-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 55 horsepower and 55 pound-feet of torque and comes mated to a standard five-speed manual or available automatic transmission.
According to the manufacturer, the Elio is capable of a 0-60-mph time of 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 100 mph.
Standard equipment includes an air-conditioning/heating system, power windows and door lock, a stereo and a three-year/36,000-mile warranty. In addition, Elio notes that hundreds of available options will include leather seating, cruise control and an upgraded entertainment system.
Edmunds says: Elio Motors has experienced a number of production delays, but the establishment of the new test facility takes its vehicle one step closer to buyers.