ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) -- . Phoenix-based Elio plans to start making the cars next fall at a former General Motors plant in Shreveport, Louisiana. Already, more than 27,000 people have reserved one. Elio hopes to make 250,000 cars a year by 2016. That's close to the number Mazda sells in the U.S. Because it has three wheels - two in front and one in the rear - the Elio is actually classified as a motorcycle by the U.S. government. But Elio Motors founder Paul Elio says the vehicle has all the safety features of a car, like anti-lock brakes, front and side air bags and a steel cage that surrounds the occupants. Drivers won't be required to wear helmets or have motorcycle licenses. That's partly because its two front wheels stick out by a foot on both sides, aiding balance and preventing the vehicle from tipping. The Elio has a three-cylinder, 0.9-liter engine and a top speed of more than 100 miles per hour. It gets an estimated 84 mpg on the highway and 49 mpg in city driving. Elio will also save money by selling the cars directly through its own stores and not through franchised dealers, similar to electric car maker Tesla Motors. Elio plans stores in 60 major metropolitan areas. They'll be serviced by car repair chain Pep Boys. The company has also applied for a $185 million advanced vehicle development loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. Eventually, though, he believes the car will appeal to high school and college students as well as used-car drivers who want something newer and more reliable. He also hopes to eventually export it to other countries. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_THREE_WHEELED_COMMUTER_CAR?SITE=MYPSP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-08-15-03-22-11 Paul says he could make an electric version for a small premium later on if demand warranted it.