Would you buy an 84 mpg car for $6,800?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Lloyd's concern that electric cars may make it harder to fix our cities, we shouldn't forget that the much talked about future of electric vehicle dominance—while much more plausible than it was a few short years ago—is by no means guaranteed.

Cars and car-dependent infrastructure are not going to disappear overnight. And fossil fuel-powered vehicles are still by far the most popular in terms of sales, and are likely to be for some time yet.

In a world of high-priced Teslas and the still substantial price tag of the Nissan LEAF, Elio Motors is taking a decidedly different approach to cutting our transportation footprint: an ultra-high mileage, low budget personal vehicle, powered by an internal combustion engine.

Boasting 84 mpg on the highway, two seats (in a front, back configuration), an anticipated 5 star crash safety rating, and a price tag of $6,800, the Elio is technically a motorcycle, but it is really designed to get people out of their cars. Here's how Elio answers the "what is it" question on their website:

According to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) “Motorcycle” means a motor vehicle with motive power having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground. So if it is less than four wheels it is a motorcycle. But what do you see when you look at the Elio? Fully enclosed, power windows, wiper blades, steering wheel, gas and brake pedals… you be the judge.

Given its rather unconventional looks, one might be tempted to question whether the market is ready for the Elio. But the numbers speak for themselves: 12,340 pre-orders and counting. The company is retrofitting an old GM plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, and expects to start shipping vehicles in 2015.

Be warned though, not everyone is buying the Elio concept. Some green car watchers - like Jo Borrás over at CleanTechnica - are decidedly skeptical about the Elio and its market appeal.

It will be interesting to see how this thing plays out.

Tags: Bikes | Fuel Efficiency | Transportation

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