Elio Motors to Build Engine From The Ground up Next Month

Jan 19, 2015 12:00 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

In February, Elio Motors will become the first start-up company to build an engine from the ground up in more than 60 years.

The automaker will debut a new 0.9 liter, 3-cylinder engine prototype with an official "first start" at a private event, just for investors, media and suppliers, on February 6, 2015, according to a company statement. The event will be held at engine developer IAV's Plymouth, Michigan offices.

If successful, Elio Motors would become the first start-up vehicle company to develop its own internal combustion engine since Nash Motors back in 1951.

"When you are on a monumental journey such as the launch of a new transportation company, sometimes you have to blaze your own trail," Elio said in a statement. "We looked at existing engines and couldn't find anything that met our needs. We challenged IAV to develop something from the ground up and they delivered. We believe this engine is the heart and soul of this vehicle."

Elio Motors wants to provide its customers with an engine that's consistent with today's passenger vehicles. This means the new engine must operate efficiently at two loads: lower loads for highway cruising and more demanding loads for the fast starts of city driving.

IAV started with a three-cylinder design and created a number of Elio-specific components, like the cylinder block, front cover, oil pan, CAM cover, cylinder heads, pistons and water pump. This gave the development team the chance to keep the design simple and easy to make, while allowing for all the major fuel economy related characteristics- like friction and pumping energy-to be improved.

"Ultimately, the decision to build an engine that was completely ours will pay off by meeting and exceeding our customers' expectations for fuel efficiency and performance," Elio said. "In addition to a vehicle that is fuel efficient and has a unique look, our customers will find it fun to drive as well."

The vehicle will be able to go from 0-60 in just 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 100 mph, according to the automaker. Elio and its manufacturing partner Comau will make the vehicle at a facility in Shreveport, where General Motors previously made the Chevrolet Silverado and Hummer H3.

Nearly 40,000 people have made reservations to buy a production model of the Elio, which will use 90 percent of North American content. 

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