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Elio Switches Engine Strategy for 3-Wheeler


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Phoenix-based Elio Motors Inc. says it will use an existing engine from an unnamed carmaker in its long-overdue three-wheel car rather than adapt a 20-year-old 3-cylinder engine as the company had previously planned.

Elio will work with Roush Enterprises Inc. to retrofit the new engine into the tiny two-seater. The company estimates the switch will save $120 million in development costs and speed the launch of the car, which has been delayed several times over the last four years.

Elio claims that the new powertrain will “greatly enhance” the car’s performance by nearly doubling horsepower while maintaining fuel economy and pricing targets. Roush will integrate the powertrain into Elio’s latest prototype, with testing due to begin shortly thereafter.

Elio previously had planned to use a modified version of a 0.9-liter 3-cylinder engine that once powered the Suzuki Swift minicar and rebadged Geo Metro sold by General Motors Co.

That engine, which was modified by IAV, was expected to make 55 hp and 55 lb-ft of torque in Elio’s three-wheeler. Fuel economy was estimated at 49 mpg in the city and 84 mpg on the highway.

Media reports speculate that Elio’s new engine could be a turbocharged 3.0-liter mill sourced from Ford. Similar engines from BMW and Mitsubishi also are rumored as potential options.

In April, Elio received a $2.5 million cash infusion from online retailer Overstock.com. The struggling carmaker also issued a new cryptocurrency to help raise additional cash.

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