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Elio Motors needs $376M to bring its three-wheelers to production

Looks like all those reservation holders are going to have to keep waiting.

Elio Motors

Elio Motors' three-wheeled, fuel-efficient car was supposed to enter production in mid-2015, and that date's been pushed back several times. Now, it's hoping to start building in 2018, but there's a big catch.

Elio Motors will need $376 million to begin production in 2018, Jalopnik reports, citing details in Elio's 1-K form filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Approximately $64 million of that is for supplier agreements, with the remainder required to finish prototypes, test them and eventually move to series production.

We've been covering the Elio since 2014, which should be proof enough that nothing happens in the automotive industry overnight, even for plucky startups.

Elio Motors

Considering that it can cost up to $1 billion to develop and build a traditional vehicle in the 21st century, that might seem like a deal, and it is to some degree. But the Elio is a bit simpler than your average new car, sporting just three wheels and a small gas engine.

Its goal is pure fuel economy at a low price, and Elio estimates that its car (also called the Elio, which is not at all confusing) will achieve 84 mpg. While it was originally priced at $6,800, that price has jumped a couple times, most recently from $7,300 to $7,450. Its pricing is rather convoluted, with a whole bunch of asterisks involved.

It may sound like Elio is setting itself up for success, but its financials show a company in dire straits. Right now, Elio Motors has just $120,000 in the bank, and its total accumulated deficit -- its net income, minus net losses, minus dividends paid, since inception -- as of the end of the 2016 calendar year is $141.14 million.

It doesn't end there. Since the beginning of the year, Elio Motors has cut costs by furloughing "a significant portion" of its workforce in the engineering, manufacturing and sales departments. Once it raises some capital, it hopes to get those folks back to work. Elio Motors did not immediately return a request for comment.

While it might seem like an excellent idea on paper -- offering a cheap, extremely efficient way to get around town in a vehicle of one's own -- Elio's latest financial statement shows just how hard it is to get a new automaker off the ground without the help of an established player.

It's cozy, but that's to be expected when there's only one front seat.

Elio Motors