Almost everything about American car culture could stand to be more efficient. America is a place of shameful waste, and our driving habits are no exception: We drive what we have and not what we need. Two-seat smart-cars pepper European roads, but across the pond, we’re not having any of it. Could the right teensy car change all that?
Maybe if a company called Elio Motors gets its way. The American company is releasing a domestically produced two-seat vehicle that captures the imagination of car enthusiasts and environmentalists alike. We had a chance to preview the car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and we came away impressed.
A hybrid of new and old, the Elio is flashy no matter how you slice it. It comes in seven iMac-esque colors—including marshmallow, red hot, and creamsicle, but its almost steampunk three-wheeled design and innovative thrust make it more than just one-dimensional eye-candy.
The Elio, which will be released this fall, achieves a whopping 84 MPG on the highway, seating two in tandem. The tiny car carries a $6,800 price tag and will roll off the lot with air conditioning, power locks and windows, a stereo, and a 36,000-mile warranty. It’s just like a normal car in almost every way, save for its candy-colored looks, unheard-of fuel efficiency, and charmingly rogue sensibilities.
Elio has faced its fair share of criticism. Jalopnik points out that in many states, Elio is technically an enclosed motorcycle, which means that its driver will need to wear a helmet and have a special license. If the company can overcome the considerable barriers to adoption in its way, we’ll still be interested. Then again, Elio had us at “marshmallow.”
Photos by Taylor Hatmaker