Could Elio Motors be saved by a DOE loan?
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There were other manufacturers with their feet in the waters of this program as well. Ford, Nissan, and Tesla received funding from ATVM and will more than likely go back to that watering trough again. But, there is another manufacturer that has been waiting for its application to speed forward. That is, Elio Motors.
Elio Motors originally applied years ago. However, before Elio could finish its application process (it's a phased process), the government halted the loan program with Elio Motors only having completed one phase. The company has been left waiting ever since. Yet, Elio Motors is no doubt still eager to explain to the government its data showing that it can take an internal combustion engine and a new modern vehicle to new heights in mileage, albeit on three wheels.
Financial hurdle after financial hurdle has been surpassed by the young company from private funding sources and regulation offerings. Yes, Elio still soldiers on beating many expectations and making more industry connections along the way. Still, in my opinion a large cash infusion from the government would in theory launch the company at break neck speed to its debut and create huge buzz for the company. And, that's important.
Increasing company awareness is critical. There are many that have been watching Elio through the years. Some even placing orders for the still developing vehicle. Others, however, are watching and waiting for the first vehicles to roll off the lines before putting their money down for the product. Approval of funding through ATVM may be the needed shot in the arm that Elio needs to convert those that are watching and waiting into consumers and raise the overall awareness of the young company.
Then there's reality. Pursuing the loan and getting approval for ATVM funding are two different things. It's easy to assume that Elio Motors, a company with proof they can make an 80+ mile per gallon vehicle would get approved for the funding. ATVM is a green vehicle technology loan though. Will that designation be another hurdle thrown at them in the application process? Elio uses an internal combustion engine. There has been no indication yet from Elio that hybrid or electric technology has been developed in making its product at this stage. Yet, the product, the Elio, is still far above in mileage range over the standard offerings currently on the market in the United States. How will the government look at this conundrum? How would it affect the value of what is approved for Elio? Will it affect it at all?
Sadly, it's a waiting game. It's safe to speculate that Elio Motors will continue to pursue the additional phases of ATVM funding. However, that is only one step. There are many steps still to take on the road to the debut of Elio. Ironing out production details and locking up dealership networks on contracts are just a couple other steps that come to mind. In the meantime, the government could answer the ATVM submission quickly, or drag its feet (as it's been known to do). So, Elio is forced to wait while outsiders like myself are left wondering if the loan approval come in time? Or, will it be too late for Elio?
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