Attracting an automaker is only part of the job for economic development agencies. Seeing a plant launched is another matter.
Five years after raising its hand to take over General Motors' closed 3.2 million-square-foot assembly and stamping plant in Shreveport, La., Elio Motors still is putting together the funding to launch a fuel- efficient, low-priced three-wheeled vehicle in it.
The startup, based in Phoenix, took over the plant in 2013 with a promise to bring 1,500 jobs and set vehicle production to start in 2015. But raising the necessary cash has been a slow process for Elio CEO Paul Elio.
An investor presentation on the Elio website says the company raised $106 million through September 2016. The site also says it has raised $102 million. But last year, the venture filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission that said, "We must raise an estimated $376 million to fund production. Our anticipated production timetable is dependent upon receiving such funding in a timely manner, and delays in obtaining additional funding will delay our production timetable."
Later, in August, the company filed another document with the SEC, saying it had cash or cash equivalents of $208,748 and a working capital deficit of $42.7 million.
In April, Elio turned to the cryptocurrency bitcoin as a new way to raise capital. In an accompanying SEC filing, Elio said it plans to launch a "security token offering," partly to fund vehicle production. The digital token will be called ElioCoin.
At the same time, Elio announced that the online retailer Overstock.com Inc. has agreed to purchase $2.5 million worth of newly issued shares of Elio stock.
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne praised Elio's vehicles in a press release and said he sees possibilities to align Elio's vehicles with Overstock's business strategy.
"Given its breakthrough pricing and ultra-low delivery cost, I anticipate that Overstock Cars and even Overstock Retail will play a role in bringing this product to the public," Byrne said in a statement.
Elio has not said when it will begin hiring. Last week, the company told Automotive News it now plans to start production "76 weeks" after it completes its security token offering. But Elio would not say when the offering will take place.