Louisiana House exempts new Elio three-wheeler from motorcycle law

Publish Date: 
Apr 17, 2013

BATON ROUGE, La. – Is it a car? A motorcycle? A day-glo doorstop on wheels? A new alternative vehicle called the Elio is technically classified as a motorcycle but doesn’t fit Louisiana laws that require drivers to wear helmets and get motorcycle certification to drive it, a House committee ruled Tuesday.

If anyone is getting a sense of deja vu, it's because the three-wheeler Elio looks similar to Corbin's Sparrow, which was manufactured from 1999 to about 2003.

The Elio Motors vehicles are to be manufactured in Shreveport, where the manufacturer bought a former GM plant. According to the manufacturer’s website, the Elio will have a top speed of 107 mph and is expected to get 84 mpg. It weighs 1,600 lbs. It will have seat belts, three airbags and a roll cage to protect the driver and passenger, who would sit in bucket seats positioned with the passenger behind the driver, the company says.

The state House’s Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee unanimously approved House Bill 218 by Shreveport Reps. Barbara Norton and Patrick Williams and sent it to the House floor for debate. The legislation now goes to the full House for consideration.

Joel Sheltrown, vice president for government affairs at Elio Motors, told the Shreveport Times that because the vehicle is so light that if it were struck by another vehicle, the Elio would spin out of the way, rather than absorbing the entire impact. The driver and passenger would be “encased in a cushion of air,” he said.

The company and car are named after founder Paul Elio; however, little more is known about the company or the investors behind it. Elio recently stated that the first Elios off the assembly line will not happen for several more months. The Elio will reportedly cost $6,800. The company will announce distribution plans later this year, according to its website.

Posted by Holly Wagner