Elio Motors lands $2.5 million investment from

'ElioCoin' cryptocurrency would also fund three-wheeler's production

  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Sebastian Blanco / AOL
Troubled three-wheel car startup Elio Motors is getting a $2.5 million lifeline from online retailer to help it pay off debts and accounts payable and fund capital expenditures. Elio simultaneously announced plans to launch a security token offering of a "ElioCoin" cryptocurrency to help it put the vehicle into production. is buying newly issued shares of Elio common stock at $2.75 per share. Two Elio board members will also convert around $1.7 million of convertible debt they hold into common stock value at the same per-share price.

The cryptocurrency deal will come as a "security token offering" expected to be facilitated by JonesTrading as the first digital token sale led by a major investment bank. Initial tokens will be sold only to institutional accredited investors, with a pre-sale of the ElioCoin also expected. The Verge reports that investors will redeem the cryptocurrency for actual Elio vehicles, though the company isn't ready to detail exactly how that will work. Overstock is also planning a conventional equity investment in the company, it said.

"It is our fondest hope that, once issued and cleared for trading, ElioCoin may trade on the blockchain-based securities trading platform that is in development at (Overstock subsidiary) tZERO," Overstock CEO and founder Patrick M. Byrne said in a statement. He said he sat in an Elio car brought to New York City, where it drew a crowd, and he "was in awe."

"I am confident that this will become my car for at least two-thirds of the days I drive," he said. "Given its breakthrough pricing and ultra-low delivery cost, I anticipate that Overstock Cars and even Overstock Retail will play a role in bringing this product to the public."

We'll have to wait and see whether it will help nudge Elio past the production starting line. Back in August, we wrote that Elio had announced it filed with the SEC to go public on the NASDAQ stock exchange in a bid to raise $100 million. For now, Elio is still trading on the OTC exchange, where it was valued at $3.40 Wednesday morning, up about 13 percent from before the announcement. Its market capitalization was valued at $96.5 million.

Elio, which launched in 2009, has faced a series of setbacks in trying to launch its $7,500 three-wheeler, which it claims will get 84 miles per gallon — and which initially attracted reservations from 65,000 customers who put up between $100 and $1,000.

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