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Elio Motors to show fuel-sipping three-wheeler in LA

When it lands next year, Elio\'s 84-mpg P5 will cost less than $7,000.

Arizona-based Elio Motors has announced it will travel to the Los Angeles Motor Show to introduce an experimental three-wheeler named P5.

Official CAD renderings reveal that the fifth-generation prototype boasts a futuristic design inspired by the company's previous concepts. Unique on the market, it stands out thanks to front wheels that are completely enclosed in order to reduce drag and a narrow, highly-aerodynamic body whose shape is vaguely reminiscent of the Volkswagen XL1.

The P5 isn't the Spartan, back-to-the-basics machine its eco-friendly aspirations might suggest it is. Its cockpit offers space for a single passenger and a comprehensive list of equipment that includes power locks and windows, cup holders, parking sensors, and even a USB port. A rear-view camera partially makes up for the fact that the trike has no rear window.

Power for the P5 is provided by a 0.9-liter three-cylinder gasoline-burning engine developed specifically for Elio Motors by Germany-based IAV Automotive Engineering. Full technical details haven't been published yet, but the startup predicts its first car is capable of returning about 84 mpg on the highway thanks in part to an ultra-low weight.

When fuel economy isn't a priority, the P5 accelerates to 60 mph from a stop in 9.6 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 100 mph.

The P5 is billed as a prototype, but Elio Motors hopes it will ultimately spawn a regular-production model aimed largely at commuters. If everything goes as planned, the three-wheeler will go on sale late next year with a base price of about $6,800, a figure that will make it the cheapest new car on the market by a long shot. It will be built in a former General Motors factory located in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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