The ghost of John DeLorean willing, I will be getting some seat time in an Elio in the near future. I’ve been in touch with company honchos and they promise to make it happen. I am hopeful – because I want this car to succeed. If it does, it could save the car business by making driving affordable and fun again.
It amounts to the same thing.
Cars cost too much – and they are much too complicated.
The Elio is neither.
You know, the way most cars used to be – before the lunatics got out of their pens and took over the asylum.
It’s fine to have expensive and complex cars – for those who want them and can afford them. But does every car need to be expensive and complicated?
No – but they are.
In part because Uncle – and his cost-no-object insistence that cars be made accident-proof and idiot-proof. Which mandates tend to add weight and so conflict with his other mandates insisting that cars deliver at least 35.5 MPG on average (which few do) and 54.5 MPG (which none do) about nine years from now, regardless of the cost.
The Elio promises 80 MPG on the highway not nine years from now but (fingers crossed) sometime later this year.
For about $8,000.
The biggest obstacle isn’t engineering. I could build an 80 MPG car; any half-bright backyard wrench turner (I qualify) could build one using a tube-frame and a motorcycle engine or something along those lines. It would get 80 MPG.
But it would never pass muster with Uncle.
Emissions wouldn’t be a problem. A transplant motorcycle engine (or maybe a very small displacement car engine, such as the ones used in prototype Elios) would run more than clean enough.
And that ought to be enough.
Uncle maybe can make a case for regulating emissions as harmful gasses (over a certain reasonable amount) can be legitimately said to constitute a threat to the health of other people.
But safety – that’s the tough one. I could not backyard-engineer a car that would meet Uncle’s fatwas regarding how effectively a car must protect its occupants against impact forces in a crash.
But that’s really none of Uncle’s business as no other people are are harmed if I crash. That’s my business.
Unfortunately, Uncle has made it his business. And it is why cars are fat and expensive and drink too much gas (Uncle’s fuel-efficiency fatwas notwithstanding).
Will the Elio be able to pass muster with Uncle on this score?
The company says yes, but it looks daunting. The car is a super lightweight (about 1,200 pounds) and in order to run between Uncle’s red-and-white-striped legs, it will likely have to be officially classified as something more than a motorcycle, but less than a car.
Different (less severe) standards apply for vehicles that are not considered full-fledged cars.
I worry that he won’t – because if he does, the Elio will succeed. And if that happens, the rest of the car industry will react like Hitler in the bunker scene. They will demand “action” to stomp the upstart, which will inevitably be derided as “unsafe.” And in Uncle-ized, Cloverfied America, warbling “safety” is all it usually takes.
Still, if the Elio can make it to production, it may be too late.
For Uncle and the Clovers.
I have an intuition that there are millions of people out there who’ve had it with overpriced, too-heavy and much-too-thirsty cars. Who’d line up around the block to get something new that’s like what they drove as teenagers back in the ’70 and even the ’80s – before they let the lunatics out of their pens and put them in charge of dictating car design.
I will keep you posted.
Keep your fingers crossed!
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