Three-wheeled Elio goes ICE, HOG goes electric

Want to help the environment but can't afford $70,000 and up for a new electric Tesla S? One alternative, to be available sometime next year, might be the $6,800 Elio, which uses a decidedly un-high-tech approach—a three-cylinder 0.9-l, 55-hp internal-combustion engine (ICE)—to deliver 84 mpg and a range of 672 miles on a single tank of gas. Elio Motors' website says that the car comes with AC and heat, which I guess is worth mentioning, because it seems that in most jurisdictions the three-wheeled vehicle would be classed as a motorcycle.

Meanwhile, real motorcycles are going electric with the unveiling of Harley-Davidson's Project LiveWire, a 74-hp, 450-lb machine that faces one limitation the company needs to overcome—lack of the traditional noise. Well, that plus a limited 53-mile range, as reported in CNET.

As for the Elio, Jim Gorzelany writing in Forbes quotes Jerome Vassallo, Elio's VP of sales, as saying, “As a commuter, 93% of the time you’re in a car by yourself. You’d drive a small car like this to and from the office and leave a larger vehicle parked back home in the driveway for when you need to carry additional passengers or have more cargo room.”

The company has 22,000 thus far for the new vehicle, Gorzelany notes, and hopes to sell more than 50,000 in its first full year of production, reaching up to 250,000 annually after five years. According to Gorzelany, “Elio Motors plans to build the new three-wheeler—ironically perhaps—at the former General Motors’ plant in Shreveport, LA, that used to crank out Hummers.”

Gorzelany asks rhetorically, “So how’s the car drive? We took what turned out to be a very rough prototype out for a spin in suburban Chicagoland and found it to be, shall we say, interesting.” Read his complete review here.

In a separate Forbes article, Gorzelany also offers commentary on Harley-Davidson and Project LiveWire, noting that “…the company essentially lives on its rich heritage,” with updates of classic designs that date to the 1940s. “To its credit,” he writes, “the Milwaukee-based company is hedging its bets that its core customers—men age 35 and older—will not live forever.”

To that end, he says, Harley-Davidson is targeting “outreach” customers—young men and women, African-Americans, and Hispanics—and it should consider world markets.

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