SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The company that says it will build a 3-wheel car in Shreveport is bringing its tour to the ArkLaTex this weekend.
Elio Motors will be showing off a prototype of its autocycle from noon to 7 p.m. March 6 at the Shreveport Convention Center. The purpose of the Elio Motors tour also is to get more people to invest in the company.
So how close is Elio Motors to starting production in Caddo Parish? It all comes down to funding.
Elio Motors now is a publicly traded company, something CEO Paul Elio says helps him sleep better at night. "All along, the hardest part of this project was tracking capital. As a public company, we have a lot more tools in our tool kit to raise the rest of the money we need to be successful."
Being publicly traded also means Elio Motors' finances now are an open book to the public through reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company's latest report, filed Feb. 17, says Elio Motors had a deficit of more than $59 million as of September. The report also shows the company soon may have to pay back several loans.
- Three loans totaling $1.9 million are due July 31.
- The company also might have to start making payments on a $9.8 million loan starting in August, when Elio Motors' forbearance ends.
- That same month, the company also will have to start making lease payments on the Shreveport facility because Elio Motors' deferral ends.
KSLA News 12 asked Elio if he plans to extend the forbearance and deferrals. "As a public company, if I talk to you about anything financial, I have to talk to everybody, not just one person. So based on that, I don't think I can comment," he replied.
"So how are they going to pay this off?" asked Lou Larson, 1 of more than 50,000 people who've reserved a three-wheel Elio vehicle.
"It's not good. They keep accruing more debt," Larson said. "The little bit of money they are raising isn't enough to pay off their debt."
ArkLaTex reservation holder Deborah McAteer is a longtime Elio Motors supporter. "You are going to go into debt starting an automotive manufacturing company; that is just common sense and understandable."
She takes a more optimistic view of the company. "We are all pretty excited, we see concrete steps, things we knew had to happen and they are happening."
So far, reservation holders like McAteer and Larson have given Elio Motors more than $19 million. That's an average of $600,000 a month, according to the SEC's quarterly report.
That's one of only a few sources of income for the company.
McAteer said she gets frustrated when she hears people calling Elio Motors a scheme to get money. "Could it fail? Until it happens, it could. Even after it happens, things fail. But I don't see how anybody could be using the word scam at this point. There is no logic for it, it is illogical."
The SEC report states that Elio Motors has not yet generated any revenue and that the company does not anticipate doing so until later in 2016 or, more likely, in 2017.
Larson believes the company needs to start building something "to not only satisfy their reservation holders but give the people in Shreveport their jobs."
The longer Elio Motors drags out everything, he said, the more people will be coming out of the woodwork to call the company a scam. "It is not going to happen. Another delay is on the horizon. I mean they haven't started on the factory."
Elio claims his company remains on track to start production during the fourth quarter of 2016.
After GM's bankruptcy, RACER Trust owned the Shreveport plant Elio Motors plans to use to build its vehicles. RACER Trust sold the plant to Caddo Parish's Industrial Development Board.
Elio Motors faces a deadline to create 1,500 jobs. In early 2015, the deadline was extended to mid-2016. If not met, there are provisions for financial penalties.
A RACER Trust spokesman confirmed RACER has reached terms with Elio Motors for an extension to the fourth quarter of 2016.
Elio Motors still needs to raise more than $200 million before it can start production. Elio says work has begun to build the 25 prototypes needed for crash testing.
Click here to read Elio Motors' latest SEC filing,