Elio Motors' latest prototype ready for HVAC testing in Seattle

Three-wheeled high-MPG vehicles are slated to debut by next year.

Elio Motors' plans to test a vehicle prototype's air-conditioning and heating systems have us wondering how 110-degree temperatures are going to be simulated in the perpetually brisk Pacific Northwest. The three-wheeled vehicle startup is having Seattle-based RedDOT Corp. make its HVAC systems, and has shipped one of its E-Series testing and engineering vehicles to the Emerald City. The trike will be tested there for heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation.

Elio is running way behind schedule (it had initially earmarked 2014 for its debut), but continues to move forward and has built about two-dozen vehicles strictly for testing purposes. For instance, some vehicles are being tested in Michigan for their anti-lock braking systems. In Seattle, the vehicle in question will undergo temperatures ranging from 0 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The automaker, which was founded in 2009, has most recently estimated that the vehicle will start sales some time next year. The three-wheeler gets up to 84 miles per gallon and will be priced at $7,300 for holders of non-refundable reservations (the price had previously been listed at about $6,800). About 56,000 people had lined up as of last month.

This summer, Elio received some good news when it was determined that 41 out of the 50 US states won't require customers to obtain a motorcycle license to drive the trikes. Elio itself was able to get 30 of those states to change their stance and ease requirements for driving the vehicle, which has airbags, seat belts, and a steering wheel, in addition to those heating and air-conditioning systems. The company also completed its fourth and final design stage this spring. Elio's higher-end E1C will be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

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