Elio Motors, the company that keeps delaying its three-wheeler street car with a price so cheap it’s almost too good to be true, may never get one of those cars on the market. If that doesn’t come as a surprise to you, this may: Elio says it has about $100,000 in the bank and an over $123 million deficit.
That’s correct. Elio’s total deficit is well over a thousand times the amount of money it has in the bank. According to a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing sifted out by Shreveport, Louisiana news outlet KTBS, the company had $101,317 in the bank and $123,212,431 in accumulated deficit as of Sept. 30, 2016. That, according to the filing, is compared to $6,870,044 in cash and a deficit of $2,325,036 as of Dec. 31, 2015.
Founded in 2009 after CEO Paul Elio “saw the soaring costs of the vehicles” people drive on a daily basis, Elio set out to provide a small, three-wheeled car advertised as getting up to 84 miles per gallon. There were questions about Elio and its viability from the beginning, and that really hasn’t changed—but the price of its car has. Originally boasted as the $6,800 car, Elio’s three-wheeler now has a base price of $7,300 under special circumstances.
Elio headed to Louisiana for its operations after eyeing a former Pontiac plant in Michigan, moving its production—or lack thereof—of three-wheelers into an old General Motors factory in Shreveport at the start of 2013. The company said Shreveport production would begin in 2014 and that it would hire 1,500 workers after the area was hit hard by GM layoffs, but Elio’s car had continuous delays and KTBS reports that it has “yet to create a single job or dollar of revenue for the area.”
The delays pushed the car’s release back from 2014 to 2015, 2015 to 2016, and here we are, in 2017, without cars. KTBS reports that a comment made by Elio’s Facebook page said 2018 is now the target date for its car.
But don’t think Elio is holding itself to 2018. Upon reserving a car, which requires a deposit ranging from $400 t0 $900, a customer must agree to these terms and conditions:
While maintaining my present place in line for delivery, I understand that currently there is no definite date set for production or delivery of my vehicle.
Elio says it has 50,000 people with reservations on the three-wheeler, and had to resort to selling its prototype testing models to some of the people waiting.
But Shreveport mayor Cedric Glover thinks they’re waiting for nothing. KTBS reports that Glover said those with a purchased reservation on the car should just count it as money lost. From KTBS:
“Going into the fourth quarter this year, they only had $101,000 in cash on hand. So when you think about the actual amount of money that they’ve been expending, Paul Elio with a salary of over 250 thousand,” said Glover.
According to Glover, much of the blame can be attributed to Racer Trust, the company in charge of putting the GM plant to the best use for the community following the bankruptcy. He said the company had an obligation to bring new jobs to the facility following their bankruptcy, and despite companies like Deacon Air Conditioning and Land Rover vying for the production site, the property rests with Elio.
“If you look at Paul Elio from 2009, certainly by the time you get to 2011 and 2012, it’s clear that what he is in fact is a dreamer and a schemer. It leads one to ask, what was the actual motivation behind committing these facilities, this equipment to Paul Elio and the Elio operation,” said Glover.
Jalopnik has reached out to Elio Motors for comment, and will update if or when we hear back.