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3-wheeled vehicle planner asks feds to OK $25M stock offering based on crowdfunding interest

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SHREVEPORT, Louisiana — The company that wants to build a three-wheeled vehicle in Shreveport says it's asked federal regulators to authorize a $25 million stock offering based on crowdfunding interest.

"We have received non-binding expressions of interest of nearly $32 million" from 8,600 people on the equity crowdfunding site StartEngine.com, Elio Motors Inc. wrote in a blog post Thursday. If the Securities and Exchange Commission OKs a stock offering, it said, people who signed up at StartEngine will get the first chance to buy.

"We are working out details of this process," the company said.

The Phoenix-based company said it expects to learn sometime this fall whether it has SEC authorization.

The $25 million would be used to make prototype vehicles in Detroit, with production possibly starting at the end of 2016, KSLA-TV (http://bit.ly/1N5zwpv) reported.

Elio said in 2013 that it expected to have 1,500 employees in Shreveport by the end of 2015.

"Emotionally, it would be much cooler to build them in our facility in Shreveport, but practically, there is heavy supplier engagement, most of the suppliers are in Detroit," CEO Paul Elio told the station. "As their parts go on the vehicle, they can be there and when the vehicles are done, we give the vehicles to the suppliers to test."

The only people currently at the plant are selling surplus equipment to pay off the company's debt. The company's SEC filing shows $30.6 million in outstanding secured loans, $1.6 million of that classified as short-term debt, the station reported.

Elio Motor's surplus manufacturing equipment at the former General Motors plant has been pledged as collateral to secure the repayment of the loans.

"All along we have been making payments on those loans. If we can pay it off, through the sale of surplus equipment and not have a loan payment, that would be nice," Elio said. "If we have to continue to make payments on the loans, that is certainly doable inside our budget."

RACER Trust, which owned the plant after GM's bankruptcy and sold it to the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board, can impose financial penalties if Elio does not create the promised jobs by its deadline. The trust extended that deadline earlier this year to mid-2016, and probably will give another extension, said spokesman Bill Callen of Behan Communications.

Elio said, "I think it's most important that we create the jobs and not the month that we create the jobs," said Elio.

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