Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tantalizing Tango

I couldn't believe this vehicle was legit when I saw it at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit Michigan. The more I researched this vehicle - the more it grew on me. At first glance, the Tango looked too tall and seemed like it might tip over on a windy day.

Rollover Potential:
Not to worry, remember this is an electric vehicle (EV), with the 988 lbs of Hawker batteries under the floor. This allows for a low-center of gravity, with go-cart like-handling and NHTSA 5-star equivalent static rollover threshold rating.

OK, but what about the thin shell? It looks like it's made of cardboard! Slow down, and you'll find out the Tango team's outlandish claims appear to be legit. Underneath the 100% carbon fiber/epoxy panels is a chrom-moly steel race car roll cage. According to Tango engineers this roll cage meets or exceed both SCCA and NHRA regulations. There are four times more side door protection bars than found in the largest SUVs.

This part blows me away. Tango can rocket down a 1/4 mile track in 12 seconds at over 120 mph and blast you from 0-60 mph in a mere 4 seconds. That's mind-bending speed. How does it accomplish this extraordinary feat? Torque. Lots of it. The two electric motors in the Tango EV have more torque than a Dodge Viper V10 engine. Racing slicks and proper gearing help too.

The Tango can charge to 80% of its capacity in just 10 minutes from a 200 amp charging station. Impressive. A full charge takes about 3 hours from a standard dryer style outlet.

Looks tiny. Not so say's Tango (well, maybe for Shaq). Comfort comes in many sizes - someone claimed it comfortable that cleared 6-foot 10-inches and weighed 325 lbs.

A whopping 10 cubic feet of space. Just a little shy of a 2006 Wrangler (11.6 cubic feet).

High-quality lead acid batteries (19 of them) made by Hawker. Cost to replace - guestimate is around 6K.

The Spec's are impressive:
Width: 39" (5" narrower than a Honda Gold Wing)
Ground Clearance: 4" (won't be seeing this clear snow on any dirt roads near my house in the winter)
Batteries: 19 Hawker Genesis G70EP lead acid batteries (list for about $435 each - not sure about long-term life-expectancy of lead acid batteries - one site says "GENESIS product will deliver up to 400 cycles")
Motors: 2 Advanced 9" motors, one driving each wheel with over 1,000 ft-lb of combined torque at low rpms (wow!)
Tires: Toyo Proxes T1R: 195/45R14 front; 215/45R15 rear
Range: 40-60 miles max with lead-acid batteries
Cost per mile: About 1/10 the cost of gasoline car for the average commuter (about a penny a mile)
Top speed: 135 mph
Emissions: It would be zero if it weren't for the tire smoke

Kind of reminds me of a pink panther cartoon I was watching recently. Waiting to see Chief Inspector Clouseau coming out of the vehicle in his original way. Much like Clouseau character, I want to see the Tango prosper - even as it defies the odds on its way to success.