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This is what it sounds like to me. Things are tight and getting tighter. They have to get funding somehow. So, they'll take something that they already have and see if they can broaden their uses and get more customers for it.
For some, that may sound like a hail Mary pass. That's the pass the quarterback tosses up in the air aiming deep with hopes that his teammates will be there to catch it. But, Elio making more business through other avenues may not be that hail Mary pass to stave off a theoretical closure that doom and gloomers have been forecasting for years. In fact, it's just good business sense. If you have something of value you exploit it until the funding comes in from other sources, or you raise it yourself through the additional sales you created in the new channel (s).
The big variable, of course, is timing. How quickly will the new avenues take to get set up? How much funding has to be put out there just to do that? And finally, How quickly can it all be put together so that there is positive flow from the new channel(s)?
In short, Elio is broadening its portfolio of products. No longer is it just about the car. Now they have the opportunity to be in other fields as well, which shouldn't sound too odd. Honda has been doing it for years. Honda figured out how to make reliable engines of all sizes. So, they do it for motorcycles, lawn mowers, generators, weed eaters, and even jets - Yeah, Honda does airplane engines!
Now some might quickly say that Elio is not Honda. They are right. Elio is not. But, Elio has spent a lot of money on developing the engine they have. So, taking a page out of Honda's book of diversity may just be a smart idea to achieve broader appeal and increase revenue.
In business, if you are not achieving what you want in the time frame you want, you do a pivot. You find what you are doing well already and see what you can do with that specific focus until your resources are ready for the original plan. Or, you pivot to your new focus and make that your new business model all together. From what I can tell, the broadened engine applications hadn't been discussed in the press in the years leading up the announcement. So, it sounds to me like Elio just did a pivot.