It seems like time has flown by since upstart auto company Elio Motors showed off its quirky 3 wheeler to the world back in 2008. While the company has still not kicked off mass production, they have announced that they will bringing a new 3-wheeler concept to the LA Auto Show in what could be a crucial step in its long term plans.
Known formally as the “P5” the concept is a futuristic take on the 3 wheeler but thankfully retains many of the cues and traits that made the older prototypes a hit with consumers. The P5 stands out thanks to its front wheels,which are now fully enclosed to reduce aerodynamic drag. A narrower body also helps reduce drag and is somewhat reminiscent of the Volkswagen XL1 and its equally slick shape.
However just because the P5 is all about fuel economy doesn’t mean that it sacrifices creature comforts and ergonomics to achieve it. The cockpit offers space for one occupant, but includes power locks, power windows, cup holders, a USB port, and rear parking sensors. A rear view camera is also standard equipment, and somewhat makes up for the fact that the P5 has no rear window though that omission still rears itself in other driving manuvers.
Performance for the P5 comes from the standard car’s 0.9 liter three cylinder engine that was developed exclusively for the Elio. While horsepower figures have not been released, Elio claims that the car is capable of achieving 84 Mpg thanks in part to its light weight. This new found lightness also helps the car achieve a modest 9.6 second 0 to 60 time, and a top speed of 100 mph which is not bad for a thrifty eco minded vehicle .
Elio claims that while the P5 is currently a prototype, it is hopeful that it will ultimately spawn a production variant that will be largely aimed at urban commuters, especially those in large cities. If everything goes well for Elio, it expects to begin selling its P5 based city car next year with the initial MSRP starting at $6,800. This price would make the trike the cheapest car offered on our shores, while also being the cheapest American built car with production taking place in a former GM plant in Shreveport Louisiana.