Elio Motors has been pushing to get their low cost autocycle to market and they have developed a few prototypes. They brought their P4 prototype to the New York International Auto Show this year and I got a chance to get a closer look at it as well as speak to Paul Elio and some of his team. Paul was happy to emphasize that they are trying to cut costs by using existing parts and as I looked closely at the the prototype I noticed many components that appear to come from an array of other vehicles.
Elio has been promising that they would have a vehicle ready for production for a few years and while I am hard pressed to believe that they will actually bring it to production any time soon the parts bin treatment does give me some hope. Designing and building parts from scratch takes a lot of research and development and increases production costs so integrating existing parts makes sense and as I looked over the P4 I noticed many familiar pieces.
As soon as the hood is popped open on the P4 you notice the familiar Suzuki G10 993cc engine as it came in the Geo Metro. This engine was initially chosen because it is simple and provided for decent fuel economy in the Metro while having a non-interference design that provided some safety for the internals in case of a timing belt failure. The prototype also uses the instrument cluster from a Geo Metro convertible or Suzuki Swift as it contains a tachometer which did not come the standard Metro. The original plan was to use the G10 engine with a few updates but since they were going to have significant re-tooling costs they decided build their own proprietary engine that is similar to the G10 but uses a timing chain instead of a belt along with a slew of other improvements. The engine diagrams have been on display for some time but have not been installed into any prototype yet. While their proprietary engine might be more efficient than the G10, I would think that they could find a more modern off the shelf 3-cylinder unit such as the HR12DE from Nissan and implement it at a lower cost. The current transmission is the 3-speed automatic unit that also comes from the Metro while the production vehicle is slated to be built with a 5-Speed manual from Aisin or an optional new automatic transmission.
The outside of the Elio is fairly unique but once you get a good look at it you will notice that the door handles appear to be pulled directly form the 1998-2002 Honda Accord which actually makes sense as they run about $5 a piece in the aftermarket so I am sure they can get them even cheaper when buying in bulk. The doors also look very familiar themselves and remind me of the first generation Honda Insight but I could not place them as being from another vehicle. The front and rear lights appear to be proprietary pre-production units as they did not have any DOT stamping on them although the headlights look similar to many motorcycle designs. The rear side glass also looks a bit familiar but was not something I could place.
Once we get inside the P4, you quickly notice some components that might anger many die-hard Chevrolet and Ford fans since the steering wheel comes from the 5th generation Chevrolet Camaro while the seat comes from the 5th generation Ford Mustang. The automatic shifter box appears to be from the Geo as well but the aged shifter seems to have been replaced with the finest fake Carbon Fiber unit they could find on eBay. The HVAC controls are chrome units that look like they could find a place on the bling shelf of your local auto parts store and will hopefully get replaced with something more fitting on the production model. I got a glimpse of the brakes and suspension and from what I have heard the suspension is custom designed for the P4 while the brakes are pulled from the Hyundai Elantra. I am sure there are many other components that are pulled from other models and if you recognize anything let us know in the comments below.
[Engine Photo Copyright 2015 Redusernab/Bozi Tatarevic]
[All Other Images Courtesy of Elio Motors]