La. plant acquired for 3-wheel vehicle production

Three-wheel vehicle maker Elio Motors said Monday it’s a step closer to production in Shreveport with the purchase of the former General Motors plant there by the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board.

Elio Motors will rent about 1.5 million square feet of the 4.1 million-square-foot former GM building from Stuart Lichter’s Industrial Realty Group, of California, which is leasing the building from the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board.

Elio Motors CEO and founder Paul Elio also said his company has raised more than $7 million.

Elio said he expects to begin commercial vehicle production in the first quarter of 2015, with significant hiring at the Caddo Parish facility to begin by the fourth quarter of 2014 and full employment to be reached in late 2015. The company is projecting employment at 1,500 workers.

Caddo Parish commissioners allocated up to $7.5 million in parish funds to purchase the facility, land and mineral rights of the 529-acre property.

Elio said tenants of the building’s remaining 2.6 million square feet could include suppliers for the three-wheel vehicle.

Elio Motors has said its three-wheel, $6,800 vehicle gets 84 mpg on the highway and 49 mpg in the city, and has an anticipated five star safety rating. It is federally classified as an enclosed motorcycle.

“Acquiring this plant and all of the equipment in a fully operational state will allow Elio Motors to thrive right off the bat once commercial vehicle production begins in 2015,” Elio said.

The former GM Shreveport Assembly and Stamping Plant was built in 1981 and most recently expanded in 2002. The property also includes a 1.5 million-square-foot paint shop, an on-site powerhouse and wastewater treatment facility, rail spur and 530 acres of land.

GM production at the Shreveport plant ended Aug. 28, 2012.

Elio is set to get a number of standard performance-based state incentives from the Louisiana economic development department, including the Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive. The CPPI gives companies payroll rebates of 13 percent for each qualifying job during the first 10 years of operations.