The Elio needs only 3 wheels to reach 84 mpg

It may look like a concept car, but the 84-mpg Elio is headed for the road this year.

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
2 min read

LAS VEGAS -- With an expected price of just $6,800 and a claimed 84 mpg on the highway, the Elio seems too good to be true.

Showcased here at the 2015 International CES by its creator Paul Elio, this weird-looking orange vehicle takes a stripped-down approach to efficent transport. The American-made and -engineered car is down one wheel and a whole lot of sheet metal compared with a conventional car, presenting itself as an inverted three-wheeler.

Unlike most inverted trikes that I've seen or driven, the Elio is a front-wheel drive vehicle. Its 55-horsepower, three-cylinder engine lives under the narrow hood and drives the front wheels, which are hidden beneath their own individually articulated aerodynamic shrouds. Fifty-five ponies may not sound like a lot, but the Elio weighs just 1,200 pounds -- about half as much as a Mazda Miata.

Meet the Elio (pictures)

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Occupants sit in a tandem configuration, the driver ahead of one passenger, which affords the Elio its narrow, slipstreamed body. From the driver's seat, the Elio is controlled with a conventional steering wheel and pedals. The passengers are protected in the event of a collision by three airbags, a steel roll cage and seat belts. The Elio's also got anti-lock brakes, stability control and crumple zones, just like a regular car.

A standard AM/FM stereo is augmented by a tablet mounted near the steering wheel. The iPad runs a custom interface that is suited for use in the car and handles the navigation, infotainment and telematics functionalities. Using a tablet makes the tech feel a bit tacked-on, but also makes it possible for Elio to offer the features its drivers may want quickly and without spending millions on infotainment R&D.

Elio Motors is currently accepting reservations for the $6,800 Elio on its website. The automaker expects the vehicle will hit the roads in the US mid-2015.

For all CNET's coverage of CES 2015, click here.