## Will the little Elio save you big money?

A new American “car” company will soon be producing a vehicle that promises 84 miles MPG at the low low price of $6,800. Just how much money could that save you, and is the Elio right for you?

## What is the Elio?

First of all, it’s not legally a car. Because it only has three wheels, it is legally considered to be a motorcycle. That is an important distinction as it means that drivers in the states of Nebraska, Missouri, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Mississippi may have to wear a helmet when driving the Elio. This three wheel vehicle has 2 seats, with the driver up front and a passenger sitting behind the driver. The Elio is expected to begin production within the next year, but they are already taking orders at www.eliomotors.com with over 12,000 vehicles ordered as of the writing of this article.

Of course what makes the Elio interesting is the cost. $6,800 for a brand new vehicle is a pretty amazing price. On top of that, the operating costs will be fairly cheap as the Elio is expected to get 84 MPG on the highway and 49MPG in the city.

## How much can the Elio save you?

As has been discussed many times before on this website, the total cost of owning a car is a fairly complicated question that depends on a number of factors such as how long you will own the car, how much you drive, what kind of driving you do, etc. To get a true sense of how much the Elio will cost you, head over the Car Cost Calculator and enter your own numbers. To give you a rough idea, lets look at a couple of different scenarios.

Just so we have something to compare to, we will compare the Elio to the Prius, even though they are very different cars. Using the Car Cost Calculator requires several estimates and because little is known about the Elio, my estimates might be a little rougher than normal. For the sake of being conservative, I am going to assume that you own your car for the entire life of the vehicle. I assume the Prius will live for 200,000 miles and the Elio for 150,000. I have no basis for that number since the Elio has no reliability track record, but we will go with it for now. We will assume maintenance, insurance, and property taxes are the same between the two vehicles since I have no other information to go off of.

My experience with the Prius is that it gets 45-50 MPG whether you are driving in the city or on the highway, so where you typically drive matters very little for the Prius. For the Elio on the other hand, where you drive matters a great deal as it is projected to get 84 MPG on the highway and 49MPG in the city. For the sake of our estimation, lets assume that you drive exactly 1/2 of your miles in the city, and 1/2 on the highway and get an average fuel economy of 67 MPG.

First lets look at the costs of somebody who drives 12,000 per year:

Type of cost | Prius | Elio |
---|---|---|

gas per mile | $.07 | $.05 |

maintenance per mile | .03 | .03 |

tires per mile | .01 | .01 |

depreciation per mile | .11 | .05 |

sales tax per mile | .01 | .00 (because of rounding) |

interest per mile | .09 | .03 |

insurance per mile | .05 | .05 |

property taxes per mile | .03 | .03 |

Total cost per mile | .40 | .24 |

Total annual costs | $4806 | $2923 |

So the Elio will save this hypothetical driver $1,882 per year. That’s pretty good. What about the high mileage driver? Let’s imagine a driver who drives 25,000 per year with 75% of those miles on the highway and 25% in the city which would give him an average fuel economy of 75 MPG. That driver would benefit even more from having an Elio as we can see in this chart:

Type of cost | Prius | Elio |
---|---|---|

gas per mile | $.07 | $.04 |

maintenance per mile | .03 | .03 |

tires per mile | .01 | .01 |

depreciation per mile | .11 | .05 |

sales tax per mile | .01 | .00 (because of rounding) |

interest per mile | .04 | .01 |

insurance per mile | .02 | .02 |

property taxes per mile | .01 | .01 |

Total cost per mile | .31 | .18 |

Total annual costs | $7812 | $4586 |

So our hypothetical high mileage driver who spends most of his time on the highway saves an impressive $3,225 per year.

## Is the Elio right for you?

Sure the Elio will save you some money, but you have to find just the right person whose lifestyle would be right for a two seater Elio. It wouldn’t work for me because I almost always am carrying around either my family or my coworkers. Perhaps somebody who commutes long distances by themselves to work every day? What do you think? Will you be putting in an order?

## Related Articles

Special thanks to both Brandon and Jess for suggesting this topic.

From where I come from, that is called a tricycle – really self explanatory. The Elio looks really cute and by the figures stated here, seems justified. May not work for everybody though.

When comparing the Prius to the Elio the cost of the vehicles should also be factored. The Prius starts at $24,000 with the average cost probably being closer to $28,000 with added features. Subtract $6,800 from $24,000 and you get $17,200 on top of the projected yearly savings. Of course, the Prius may have greater longevity dropping that number a bit but it would still be very significant.

The price of both vehicles actually is factored in, but it is difficult to see because I didn’t fully explain my calculation for the sake of simplicity. The line item “depreciation per mile” is equal to (buying price minus selling price) divided by total miles driven.

As you pointed out, the Prius costs much more so this is one of the main reasons the Prius will cost more per mile. The depreciation expense for the Elio is a bit of a guess because I have no idea how reliable the Elio will be so I have no idea how many miles you will be able to drive it until the wheels fall off. For the sake of this calculation I guessed 150,000 miles.

For more information on how my calculation works, you might want to check out my mileage cost calculator.