I have complicated feelings about Elio, the company that’s working to bring a mass-market three-wheel car to American drivers. I love the idea of cheap, three-wheel cars with innovative designs. I also don’t have much confidence in how Elio can accomplish this goal. There is one thing I think Elio could be doing very well, but it’s not something they want: opening this segment to cars from India.
Elio’s specific goal is to make the least-expensive, most fuel-efficient car possible, and it’s using a peculiar loophole to achieve it: three-wheeled cars are still exempt from most of the safety and emissions regulations of quad-wheel cars. Those principles could be oddly well-suited to what Indian carmakers are proving to be great at.