That quirky pricing scheme is actually the result of the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program, which promotes projects that create jobs while also reducing the country's dependency on foreign oil. According founder Paul Elio, "the ATVM program is not a breaking point for Elio Motors," but it will help his company bring the quirky vehicle to market. And Elio will needs firm agreements in hand in order to satisfy the Department of Energy's requirements.
So, for now, the company is offering two pricing tiers: the aforementioned, contractually-obligated $7,000 tier and a slightly more expensive $7,300 tier which is also non-refundable, but doesn't include the binding contract. (For those keeping score, the pricing is slightly more expensive than the $6,800 MSRP promised during the crowdfunding campaign.) Buyers who already put in an earlier refundable order can also lock in a lower price by converting their reservation, and everyone will receive their vehicles based on their deposit type and amount. Also, options like an automatic transmission, retro fenders, parking assist or a premium entertainment system will cost anywhere from $380 to $2,000 extra.
Per the company's website, Elio currently has over 56,000 people signed up to buy and the $7,000 pricing level will only be available until it reaches 65,000 total reservations from all its various tiers, so this pricing scheme may not last beyond the first batch of Elios to hit the road. When last we heard that should happen sometime in 2017.