Here’s how the Elio engine will keep its cool

Sections: Powertrain

Print Friendly
Elio CFD computer model

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) computer models show how coolant should flow around the three cylinders in the Elio’s cylinder head. (Photo courtesy Elio Motors)

We’re loving the “Tech Talk” series from Elio. In two previous posts, we’ve learned about the Elio’s engine. This week, Elio told us how it plans to keep that engine cool.

An e-mail from Elio Motors said the three-cylinder engine’s cooling system is the product of “significant analysis and design.”

The water jacket received a lot of attention, according to Elio. If you don’t know what that is, here’s a quick primer on the Wiki. In essence, a water jacket is the series of passages for coolant to circulate around the engine’s cylinders to keep everything cool and operating optimally. In Elio’s case, the automaker said it used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to optimize the prototype engine cooling scheme. Quoting the e-mail:

The cylinder head portion of the water jacket was designed with the intent of maximum combustion chamber cooling; reducing the required octane content in the fuel used which in turn allowed for higher compression ratios. The volume was kept to a minimum to keep flow velocity as high as possible. A connecting bridge was also added along the “spine” of the water jacket which had the benefits of increasing cross-cylinder flow velocity as well as eliminating air pockets that would accumulate between the cylinders. Detail was also taken to extend and loop the water passages around important cylinder head features like the intake port, the exhaust port and the spark plug, thus maximizing the cooling area.

Elio Water Pump press image

The Elio water pump is designed to have as little parasitic drag on the small three-cylinder engine. (Photo courtesy Elio Motors)

The head gasket is the mating surface between the engine block and cylinder head and, as such, must contain some passages for coolant to travel through. According to Elio, The size, shape, and location of these orifices on the head gasket have been designed to optimize flow from the cylinder to the head portion of the engine. Elio said larger passages are placed at the number 1 cylinder to encourage coolant to flow up and over the first cylinder, then over and around the other two — more efficient than flowing coolant up and over one cylinder at a time, says Elio.

You can’t talk head gasket without talking water pump — a.k.a. the other thing that ruins your life for a few days if it ever fails on you. Elio said the water pump for the three-cylinder engine has been designed with a lower flow rate and will use curved-vane impellers, making the pump slower and reducing parasitic losses. That’s a plus when you’re dealing with somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 horsepower at the crank.

Notably missing from this missive about the Elio’s cooling system: Not a word was said about the radiator or total liquid coolant capacity. Maybe Elio is saving that for a later “Tech Talk” e-mail. We’ll be watching.

Print Friendly
  • http://yahoo guadalupe balladarez

    I think that the Elio is a very cute car how does is handle on the road, and how fast does it go?, what about the maintance?, does it have AC? whats the gas tank capacity?, does it have GPS? capability?, The price is right. how much tork does it develope?, what is the average speed on climing up mountain road?, I understand that its in the scooder division; why, is it a scooder or a car.or is it a scarder?

    • Lyndon Johnson


      Many of your questions can be answered by clicking the “FAQ” link here:

      I can quickly say that Elio has said they’re aiming for a top speed in excess of 100 MPH. The car will have air conditioning standard. The engine reportedly is being designed to develop about 55 to 60 horsepower — as of right now, however, the prototypes sometimes seen on TV and elsewhere are powered by a three-cylinder G10-series engine from an old Geo Metro.

      United States legislation on what constitutes a “motorcycle” varies state-by-state. The Elio is classified as a motorcycle for a couple of reasons:

      First, many state motoring laws view anything with fewer than four wheels as a “motorcycle,” whether or not it has an enclosed cockpit.

      Second, Elio is hoping to skirt dealership franchise laws car companies usually face. Their business plan revolves around selling cars at company-owned and operated stores. That’s something Tesla Motors, for one, has tried to do while facing much difficulty from the car dealership industry who push state regulators to never allow a Tesla Store in their individual states, saying company-owned car dealerships violate state dealer franchise laws. Motorcycle dealerships can legally “get around” this issue in most states. A number of Harley-Davidson and Suzuki motorcycle dealerships reportedly are owned by the manufacturer.

  • Patricia Brown

    We need this small vehicle. I’m thinking of ordering a second one.

  • Will Martin, CAI: Block looks sound , Now which MFG. insert/ sleeve will fill if ??

    While block design appears sound we ask which/MFG sleeve & insert kits will be used to fill it. What systems will control vibration ? Is this not a refinement of old David Buick high
    longevity designs that can, with proper service, see 3 million miles of duty . Who will build the auto-trans . Will it follow the new avenues of fast down-shift to improve fast stops; needed by a nation of tail-gating / poor drivers who have their minds on anything other than arriving alive ??

  • http://Facebook mike dudoet

    Will there b a display near the Lafayette, LA. Area and when will it available for purchase

    • Lyndon Johnson

      We have no idea, Mike. You can keep an eye on Elio Motors’ future tour stops at their official website. Purchase availability is anyone’s guess at this point, since Elio has already pushed back its predicted “on-sale” date a time or two.

  • Don

    Waiting for the Elio with the Elio engine to hit the road.

  • joe fabits

    Can’t wait for you plan on coming to Bentonville (Arkansas home
    of wallmart)

    • Lyndon Johnson

      Joe, we just report the news. We’re not out there making the news happen like Elio.

  • Jeff

    Can’t wait to see the options, and I’m hoping they’re REASONABLY PRICED! You all know that it will be relatively easy to take advantage of the excitement by overcharging for the bells & whistles. I just hope you don’t.

    • Lyndon Johnson

      Well Jeff, WE aren’t selling Elios around here. But when the folks at Elio Motors announce official option prices, you can bet we’ll cover that story! Thanks for reading and for commenting.

  • Gene Turner

    Will there be an accessory to get power steering?

    • Lyndon Johnson

      We haven’t heard any indication from Elio that there are any plans for optional power steering. If we hear differently, we’ll be sure to report on it here.

  • Bob Del Valle

    Are there any plans on getting a convertible or a sunroof? It would be awesome to be able to take the top off. Maybe there could be a hard covered that you could take off like the Suzuki Samurai back in the late 80s

    • Lyndon Johnson

      Hi Bob,

      We haven’t heard Elio Motors say anything about a sunroof or convertible option. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see an aftermarket sunroof “pop up” (pun TOTALLY intended) if the Elio catches on, however.

  • Tim Holmes

    I drove long hours to see this great little car…I got in on the last day for the 50% bonus….I’m so excited…I would love to work for Elio for free…very excited..and yes I have an extensive automotive background

  • Scott R.

    How much oil and at what weight does the Elio engine use? Do you have to use a special type of gas? Will it run as well with the ethanol gas blends Summer / Winter?

  • Ian

    I apologize to your website for all the people that for some reason think you guys are the company making this car. Haha. I can’t wait to see one in person.

    … can make that happen, I hear.

    • Lyndon Johnson

      Haha, I don’t know why, but people have come out of the woodwork on most of our Elio stories, and a good many of them wrote comments as if speaking to Elio Motors itself instead of to a news website.

      We’re hoping we can get our hands on an Elio once they go into production. The prototypes, even the latest P4 prototype, are still rough around the edges and probably not indicative of the finished product in a lot of ways that will really matter. But so far we have a pretty good relationship with Elio Motors’ PR folks, so if they’re able to ramp up production next year as (tentatively) promised, we’ll try to get a review car for sure.

  • JeffKan1

    Scott, I believe I saw the planned oil is 5W-20, not sure though. Don’t know about oil qty, but it’s a .9 L engine, so there ya go. Normal gas and ethanol blends will work fine.

  • Hans Vandegraaf

    Is anything known about the drive train.Presumably a 5speed.What about an automatic? An automated gearbox or a planetary or a CVT, and who is slated to manufacture it.That much ought to be known by now.

  • Mark Mann

    I read somewhere that a sunroof option will be available.

    • Lyndon Johnson

      Trust that I’m doing my best Montgomery Burns impersonation when I say, “Exxxxcellent.”

  • Phillip Dauben

    Minimizing parasitic losses from the water pump was mentioned. Why not use an electric water pump and eliminate the mechanical one?

    • Lyndon Johnson

      Part of the mentality Elio seems to be carrying into the design of the powertrain and auxiliary vital systems on this car is keeping it simple with long-proven technologies that are cheap to produce. That’s why the engine is a two-valve head and won’t feature variable valve timing or direct fuel injection. I agree with you to an extent, though. If Elio designed the engine with all the latest technologies such as electric water pump, variable valve timing, direct fuel injection, they might not hit their $6,800 price target, but they might also surpass their 84 MPG goal on the highway, as well. It’s a trade-off.