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Elio Motors plans to build futuristic car in Shreveport

Kate Archer Kent

Phoenix-based Elio Motors has formally announced its agreement to buy the former Shreveport General Motors plant, where it will build three-wheeled vehicles that it says will get more than 80 miles per gallon.

The startup car maker will use one-third of the 3 million acre plant site. Elio Motors said it will hire 1,500 workers by late 2015. Founder Paul Elio said at Thursday's news conference at the plant that he aims to create good-paying U.S. jobs, whether they’re unionized, he said, is up to his workforce.

"That is the impetus for this project. And so, if we’re going to create crap jobs, we may as well create crappie Chinese jobs," Elio said. "The point is to create good-paying American jobs, and then it's up to the workers whether they want to be union or not."

Credit Kate Archer Kent
Paul Elio talks to reporters at a news conference Thursday to announce a buyer for the former Shreveport GM plant.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Louisiana Economic Development’s senior business development director described an incentive package worth about $150 million, including a 10-year tax exemption for manufacturing. Elio said that he’s got his financial house in order to roll out vehicles that will sell for $6,800.

We need no more government incentives to get this off the ground," Elio said. "We have a capital plan we are comfortable, that the stakeholders are comfortable with, and we need no government help to do it."

The deal is expected to close in the spring. A Los Angeles-based industrial real estate developer is buying the entire facility in conjunction with Elio and hopes to lease portions out to other tenants.

On its website, Elio Motors is accepting reservations for the vehicles it expects to manufacture during the first year of production.

The Shreveport plant will be the 25th former GM property sold since the RACER Trust was established. The trustee finds buyers for properties GM shed in its bankruptcy.