You probably haven’t heard of Paul Elio – probably because his car company hasn’t been the recipient of your tax dollars, nor the prostrate fawning-over of an adulatory press . . . unlike another car company headed by someone with name recognition on par with Coke and Jesus.
Paul’s car is simple and inexpensive – projected base price of $7,450. It is extremely fuel-efficient (80-plus MPG) and so makes economic and practical sense – two more reasons why you probably haven’t heard about it.
The Elio doesn’t meet the criteria which that other company’s cars do. They are expensive – base price $35,000 for the least pricey version of the lowest cost model. They aren’t efficient – you’ll have to plan trips around the comparatively short range and lengthy time to recharge.
But they don’t burn gas – and that is the thing when it comes to picking the taxpayer’s pocket and being the recipient of press adulation.
The jihad against internal combustion – no matter the economics (or the other reasons) is a gale force hurricane blowing directly in the face of Elio Motors, but it’s the wind in the sails of that other car company.
Elio will probably not make it.
The company apparently has cashflow problems – but the much more serious problem is a government problem. It is not the absence, via the government, of a direct line to the taxpayer’s pockets – which keeps that other company’s doors open. It is the probably insurmountable obstacle of acquiring the government’s approval for use on public roads.
This was intended to be Elio’s way of end-running the government’s saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety mandates, which have made four-wheelers both expensive and inefficient. Keeping the size – and weight – down is the key to getting the mileage up and the cost down. This has become very hard to do with four-wheelers, because they must pass all those government crash tests, including side-impact/offset barrier and rollover tests.
Why this is the government’s business is a very good question almost never asked. It is presumed that the natural, rightful role of the government is to ensure that everything on four wheels can withstand “x” amount of damage if it is crashed into a barrier or hit from the side or rolls on its back – and that the person buying and driving it has no right to assume a potentially higher risk of damage in the event of crash, in exchange for very high mileage and very low cost.
We are not allowed to buy four-wheeled cars like the old VW Beetle we used to be free to buy – nor (probably) the seemingly stillborn Elio three-wheeler.
This is very strange, if you are coming from the increasingly quaint premise that Americans are free people. Shouldn’t free people be free to buy a simple, low-cost car – whether three-wheeled or four? How does it harm anyone else (the old standard, in our once-free country, before an individual’s actions were stymied beforehand or punished after the fact) for me or you to drive a car such as the Elio?
And if it doesn’t, why aren’t we left free to choose?
Somehow, it has become the government’s business to decree – rather arbitrarily – how much saaaaaaaaaaaafety we must buy. If we buy a four wheeler, we must buy the capacity to withstand impacts to “x” degree, coming from various angles. Including upside down – standards which the Elio three-wheeler probably has trouble with.
Two-wheelers, on the other hand, are exempted from all of it. Which of course is the main reason why they remain light, extremely efficient – and affordable.
The problem is you have to be willing to do without a roof – and be able to ride a motorcycle – to enjoy those benefits.
Elio’s intent was to offer those benefits with a roof – and without the buyer needing to learn how to ride. You drive the Elio, seated (warm and dry) inside – with a roof over your head. But that treads too close to being a car in the eyes of Uncle – and so the Elio isn’t exempted from the saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety folderol which the designers and manufacturers of two-wheelers don’t have to sweat and which buyers of them do not have to spend their money on.
The answer, of course, is that the government hasn’t gotten around to outlawing it yet. Motorcycles are a relic of once-free America, a place where people were free to choose the type of transport that worked best for them and their budget. The government has been chipping away at two-wheeled freedom via mandatory helmet laws – also justified on the basis of saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. But the bike itself can’t be made saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe in the way a car is without becoming a car.
Paul Elio tried to split the difference. But getting that past Uncle is no easy thing – and probably an impossible thing.
There are four-wheelers available in other countries that aren’t legal for sale in once-free America because they aren’t saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe enough for Uncle. These include the Mahindra Roxor 4×4 I wrote about recently (here) as well as many others, all of which we’re not allowed to drive.
Meanwhile, the expensive, impractical cars built by that other company more than meet all of Uncle’s standards – and far more important, they jibe with his agenda. So they get unlimited “help” (funded by you) as well as fawning press.
The deck is stacked, but we’re supposed to keep on playing – everyone pretending it’s an honest table.
. . .
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