The Tango T600 Electric Car

The next generation of electric cars have been in gestation for several years, as evidenced by Commuter Cars Corporation’s Tango T600. This is probably the most unique battery-powered car design yet seen. This car is 39″ wide, 8’5″ long, and 60″ tall. It is designed to seat two, with the passenger behind the driver. Because it’s narrow, and because it’s so small, it can split lanes like a motorcycle, and it can park perpendicular to the curb in spots only motorcycles would ordinarily fit.

The Tango T600


These specifications, applied to a car with four wheels, give the Tango an unusual appearance, and nothing that might automatically be associated with high performance. But the Tango is designed for speed. Its battery pack puts out 2,000 amps at 375 volts, and its engine can draw well over 600 kilowatts. By contrast the Tesla Roadster draws under 200 kilowatts. This car may look like a golf cart, but it drives like a racing bike. The company claims it will do 0-60 in 4.0 seconds, the quarter mile in 12.0 seconds, and top out over 150 mph.

Unlike the Tesla Roadster, which uses a conventional Lotus chassis and therefore automatically passes many of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, the Tango T600 is assembled as a kit. This isn’t to say it’s not safe. The Tango is narrow, but it has an extremely low center of gravity. When I spoke today with their President, Rick Woodbury, he said the Tango has a center of gravity of 56 degrees, comparable to a Porsche 911, and that it could remain stable up to a 1.5 gravity turn.

Furthering occupant safety, the Tango is also equipped with a roll cage and “more steel in the doors than a Volvo,” according to Woodbury, who also said “the car is designed for 200 MPH collisions.” So if you want to zoom through traffic like a motorcycle, you can, but you will also be far better protected than the average motorcycle rider. Best of both worlds.

Range for the Tango varies because they are offering different battery packs. With lead acid batteries, depending on usage, the range is 40-80 miles. With nickel metal hydride batteries, the range increases to 80-160. With lithium ion batteries, the range can go over 300 miles, more than the Tesla.

Currently Commuter Cars Corp. has sold one Tango T600 and have six ordered and under construction. These prototypes cost over $100,000 each. They claim they have sourced a lithium ion battery using lithium polymers in a single string. Woodbury said they were definitely “not using laptop batteries.”

It will be interesting to see if a car like this can take off. Commuter Cars Corp. is taking orders for less expensive production versions of their car which will come safety rated instead of as kits. These cars, the T200 and the T100, are listed on their ordering page at $39,900 and $18,700 respectively. Woodbury says they have about 100 orders so far, and will probably be able to begin production once their order volume tops 1,000 or so. If Commuter Cars Coporation eventually can deliver a T100 for under $20,000, a car with this speed and handling may well find its niche.


Categorized | Cars, Energy & Fuels, Motorcycles
24 Responses to “The Tango T600 Electric Car”
  1. Kerry Beauchert says:

    This “car” (actually a motorcycle with a body) was demonstrated to General Motors at their testing grounds. GM found it interesting and unique, but not a “car” they would be interested in either building or selling. GM and BMW and Mercedes have partnered to produce the most advanced hybrid system available and would see no benefit from also offering an electric car. Especially after their bad experience trying to sell that total lemon, the EV1 (cost $45,000+) for over 5 years and leasing only a few hundred. I notice how careful they are about their batteries not being laptop batteries. That’s total BS. The problems are because of the fact that they were lithion ion and cheaply made, not the fact that they were used in laptops. I don’t really trust any company that talks about how little electricity one will use but fails to mention the cost of the batteries.

    The Tesla has about half the batteries of this vehicle and theirs cost over $20,000 and last only 4 to 5 years. This vehicle’s lithion ions will cost more than that – about 3 or 4 times the amount you would have paid for gasoline. They are selling these cars on the consumer’s ignorance of electric cars and where the costs are.

    Not one electric car company has ever mentioned yearly battery costs. They are fraudulent and supported by Hollywood’s young “environmentalists,” but the fact is that the Honda Impulse has lower total emissions – an electric car can be no cleaner than the (mostly) coal produced electricity that it uses.

  2. Robert says:

    I sure hope that car makes it to the vehicle market including the stock market as well, because we all need electric cars including the hydrogen car and the water fuel cell reinvented by Daniel Dingel. We need a diversity of environmentally friendly cars running from different fuel sources that don’t produce smog emmisions except steam emissions only, or no emissions at all.

  3. Responding to remarks from an earlier comment – remarks in quotations:

    “This ‘car’ (actually a motorcycle with a body) was demonstrated to General Motors at their testing grounds. GM found it interesting and unique, but not a ‘car’ they would be interested in either building or selling.”

    That may be true of some of the people that test drove the Tango at GM’s ATV division, but many were extremely excited about the car. It’s hardly a motorcycle with a body as it weighs over 3,000 lbs.

    “I notice how careful they are about their batteries not being laptop batteries. That’s total BS.”

    I was only pointing out that our Li-Ion design has a lot less components. Instead of 6,800 cells we’re having a pack specially designed with a little over 100 cells. These we believe will be much easier to manage. I’ve never stated that they are cheap or a good bargain as cost per mile compared to gasoline. I have stated that both lead-acid and NiMH batteries under certain conditions can be a small fraction of the cost of gasoline even after adding the cost of electricity and yet ignoring the reduced maintenance of an EV.

    “The problems are because of the fact that they were lithion ion and cheaply made, not the fact that they were used in laptops. I don’t really trust any company that talks about how little electricity one will use but fails to mention the cost of the batteries.”

    If you look at our web page under downloads and batteries and cost per mile you’ll find an in-depth analysis of the costs for different commuting distances.

    “The Tesla has about half the batteries of this vehicle and theirs cost over $20,000 and last only 4 to 5 years.”

    The Tesla has 6800 batteries; ours comes standard with 19.

    “This vehicle’s lithion ions will cost more than that – about 3 or 4 times the amount you would have paid for gasoline. They are selling these cars on the consumer’s ignorance of electric cars and where the costs are.”

    Read our web page. we explain the costs in detail. For the average commuter the cost of batteries, maintenance, and electricity can be a small fraction of the cost of gasoline alone.

    “Not one electric car company has ever mentioned yearly battery costs.”

    Read our web page.

  4. Ralph Fudge says:

    The Tango is an interesting concept; but I would prefer, as a consumer, something that looks more conventional. And I would not buy one so narrow as to only seat one (except for the back seat). However, I do applaud the efforts of everyone who is trying to help us reduce our enormous oil dependency. Personally, I am holding off trading for a plug-in hybrid. I believe this is the answer for the immediate future.

    Thanks,

    RF

  5. Greg Woulf says:

    I wouldn’t buy one of these because I can’t afford two cars and I have kids, but the comments about the emissions and the cost of battery replacement are totally out of line.

    Even with a newer coal burning plant the electric cars are less polluting. If you look at California where they burn Natural gas it’s not even close. They have 1/10th the CO2 or less.

    Even at 1/10th it’s a deception to say that electric cars pollute. The car is clean, it’s the owners choice to purchase dirty or clean energy. Gasoline cars have to burn Gas, but electric cars have the choice of clean or dirty.

    If you want that choice then go electric.

  6. Peter Stern says:

    Kerry Beauchert, regarding your statement “Especially after their bad experience trying to sell that total lemon, the EV1 (cost $45,000+) for over 5 years and leasing only a few hundred.”

    Let’s get something straight…. GM WOULD NOT LET ANYONE BUY AN EV1. You could only lease one. After production was stopped, there were still unfilled orders on the books.

    The EV1 wasn’t a lemon. The real lemon was GM management sabatoging the sales of the EV1. They went from being ahead of everyone (even Toyota) to falling behind and are now trying to catch up. Not only could you NOT BUY this vehicle, they did stupid things with the design like sticking with Lead Acid batteries and also having that ridiculous Magnacharge system. Right from the start, it would have made way more sense to use NiMH for the battery and use an electric dryer connection AND/OR a standard 3 prong 120V plug for the charging.

    Also, some of the newest Lithium Ion batteries can last up to 2,000 charge cycles. Take that 2,000 number, multiply it by 200 or 300 miles. If you know even a little math and have a little common sense, you could see that a modern Lithium Ion battery pack will last the life of the vehicle in most cases.

    So even if the batteries cost $20,000, that cost, along with electricity costs, will be more than covered by fuel and maintenance savings (no more oil changes, coolant changes, transmission fluid changes, tuneups, timing belts, air filters, fuel filters, serpentine belts, catalytic converter replacements, water pump replacements, fuel pump replacements, alternator replacements, fuel injector service, exhaust replacements, head gasket failures, oil leaks, coolant leaks, or emissions tests). The maintenance and repair savings alone are worth an average of at least $1,000 per year. The gasoline savings are worth at least $2,000 a year (considering the performance).

    So you’re looking at a minimum of $3,000 a year saved in operating and repair costs.

    And if I had to make a bet on safety, I’d take a car with a lithium battery any day over a car with a tank full of gasoline.

    Plus the environmental benefit is icing on the cake.

  7. Richard says:

    Peter Stern, you are absolutely right. It seems to me that Kerry Beauchert works for either the Auto industry or for an oil company. Everything he says is made up and a regurgitation of GM’s nonsense. GM had a great car. It was loved by all those few that got to drive one. It was fast and very reliable. Once the original lead acid batteries were replaced, no one had any problems up until the cars were reclaimed by GM and crushed for no good reason. The leasees were highly disappointed at the recalls and many more still wanted the cars. Those that did get the cars had to jump through some thick hoops to qualify for the cars.
    I personally commend the efforts of the Tango, but unless the cars are made more like mainstream vehicles I am not yet in the market for one. I don’t understand why the few electric car makers aren’t making cars that look normal? I like normal looking cars, not thin, three wheel, or single user cars. They don’t make sense to me. I really like the concept of electric cars, but I don’t want a clown car! Regards.

  8. Ed Ring says:

    It’s easy to demonize auto-makers and oil companies. Let’s not forget the American people and their love affair with giant Sport Utility Vehicles, however. Automakers will manufacture what the public wants.

    Remember GM was an EV pioneer, and may leapfrog the competition again. It must be pointed out that even if on a car-to-car basis the EV-1 was economical, the small quantity of these cars meant that a very large new maintenance infrastructure had to be created and there was nothing there. This meant that until EV’s had really begun to proliferate, GM was going to lose a lot of money, year after year.

    Then the governments which had initially mandated zero emission cars such as the EV-1 pulled the rug out by rolling back these mandates. Why? Because environmentalists insisted on the ultimate solution, hydrogen fuel cells. Automakers rightly are bemused, if not incredulous, at the directions they get pulled in. The market wants giant SUVs. The government mandates some EV’s, then changes its mind.

    There is plenty of blame to go around, if we want to play that game. A more productive use of our time however is to identify and provide constructive critiques of these next generation electric vehicles. This time the market and the technology are ready, and nothing will stop them.

  9. Randal Banik says:

    The Altairnano NanoSafe(TM) Battery

    Altairnano solved this problem using an innovative approach to rechargeable battery chemistry by replacing graphite with a patented nano-titanate material as the negative electrode in its NanoSafe batteries.

    This nano-titanate material is a “zero strain” material in terms of lithium ion internal deposition and release. The lithium ions have the same size as the sites they occupy in the nano-titanate particles. As a result the nano-titanate particles do not have to expand or shrink when the ions are entering or leaving the nano-titanate particles, therefore resulting in no (zero) strain to the nano-titanate material. This property results in a battery that can be charged and discharged significantly more often than conventional rechargeable batteries because of the absence of particle fatigue that plagues materials such as graphite. Conventional lithium batteries can be typically charged about 750 times before they are no longer useful, whereas, in laboratory testing, the Altairnano NanoSafe battery cells have now achieved over 9,000 charge and discharge cycles at charge and discharge rates up to 40 times greater than are typical of common batteries, and they still retain up to 85% charge capacity.

    As an example of the application significance of this feature if a conventional lithium battery is charged and discharged every day then it would typically last for about 2 years. Under the same scenario, an Altairnano battery would be projected to last 25 years. This durability is critical in a high value application like electric vehicles.

    Altairnano will be demonstrating its NanoSafe battery technology at the California Air Resources Board Zero Emission Vehicles meeting in Sacramento, September 25th through 27th, 2006.

  10. Tom King says:

    Its great to see that GM and Ford finally have some real competition. Not just competition for building cars, but competition for the best conception of an ecologically sustainable future. The Tango 100 meets or exceeds all my needs at an affordible price. Since electric motors are so simple and durable, I can’t imagine the need for any “very large new maintenance infrastructure.” I’m hoping any repairs or maintenance can be handled by one of the local high school kids (we’re not talking rocket science), or maybe the guy who fixes fridges and stoves. All of us should assume that the oil/auto industry will do anything possible to discredit or regulate electric cars. Unfortunately that probably includes sending disinformation to honorable public forums like this. The era of the electric car has arrived, let the race begin.

  11. Ed Ring says:

    Everything is relative. Let’s say the difficulty in retooling the maintenance infrastructure to accomodate electric cars, is 3 on a scale of ten (the lower the number, the easier the shift). If that’s true, then retooling the maintenance infrastructure for hybrid cars is probably 5 on a scale of ten. And retooling the maintenance infrastructure (and fueling infrastructure) for hydrogen fuel cell cars is probably 10 on a scale of 10.

    Back in 1996, retooling the maintenance infrastructure for electric cars was harder than it is now, let’s give the automakers that much. And battery technology had not evolved nearly to where it is today. And back then the price of gasoline was plummeting and 90% of Americans wanted to buy SUVs. We certainly are not going to find high school kids who will have the diagnostic equipment, tools and expertise to fix a power management system for a modern electric car, wishful thinking aside. I agree there are significant advantages to electric cars in terms of maintenance, compared with gas, hybrid, or (especially) fuel cell vehicles. That’s why we’re covering them so much.

  12. Seth Sun says:

    With an unstable oil market that we have withnessed this summer there now comes a time to change to look beyond these oil companies who are hurting American people especially us folks who are trying to make ends meet. I don’t have anything against gas or oil but when these people are making record profits while us tax payers are sweating trying scrap every nickel and dime to get gas and groceries and pay bills that makes me angry but when I started reading about the Tango boy let me tell you it was love at first sight! Rick Woodbury is a genius and this little car is going to be the next breakthrough. when I started reading about electric cars about how much less maintenance and no oil changes I started to brainstorm and say man where have these cars been they should be out there on the road. Rick if you read this I am looking forward to the Tango T100. Even if my wife hates it because of size I love it!

  13. Bill Young says:

    For those who prefer a more conventional looking electric vehicle, keep your eye on Phoenixmotors.com. Their first vehicle planned production vehicle is a pickup truck (looks like a Ford Ranger). They have announced an SUV type vehicle as their second model. (They also will sell an electric version of a ’37 Ford roadster but that doesn’t qualify as conventional).

  14. John Spradley says:

    My solar electric powered car batteries cost me less than $25 a month. The 25 year old motor still as good as new. Balance that against oil changes, etc.

    In 1948 I did all my own maintenance and engine work. Those days were long gone, until I went electric!

    When my electric car batteries reach their end of mobile life they still have enough life to support my solar system. I love batteries and look forward to the next generation.

  15. Eric Andersen says:

    How many of you would seriously be considering this vehicle if the price of gas was not so high? The auto manufacturers see that there will only be a demand for these vehicles if the price of gas is high. If a small percentage of the population goes electric (or just buys a more fuel efficient vehicle) – the country uses less gas – the gas supply goes up – and the price of gas goes down. The end result being that the demand for these vehicles vanishes. We are caught in a vicious cycle – the only thing that will break this cycle is government mandates. Too bad we have a short-sighted government that is only looking out for the short-term profits of the corporations.

  16. Tony Belding says:

    I want to buy an electric car — and not only because of high gas prices. These new ones coming out (Tango, Tesla) are going to be incredibly fun to drive. It’s just a shame the prices are so high, because they aren’t yet being mass-produced as gasoline-powered cars are.

    And yet, even with the high prices. . . There is more at stake than just saving a few bucks at the gas pump. The USA is at war. Our soldiers have sacrificed much, and their families have sacrificed much. What have the rest of us done? Anything?

    After Pearl Harbor, General Motors switched all their factories over to producing tanks and planes in less than a year. After 9-11 they’ve done nothing but business as usual, cranking out SUVs. Nobody has shown any leadership. I think it’s shameful.

  17. Steve Erlsten says:

    In response to one of Kerry’s remarks, my Tango will be much cleaner than a coal-fired powerplant, because by the time I take delivery I will have enough photovoltaic capacity to power my house and my vehicle without burning any fossils.

    Anyone who wants to push the Tango to a faster production can get in line by putting a fully refundable deposit into a neutral escrow account. http://www.commutercars.com/ The account is set up so that only the person putting the deposit down has access to the money.

  18. keith wilson says:

    Have you heard of the Vanadium Battery. It is already in use as a UPS system around the world. Its inventor based at the University of NSW in Sydney Australia is working with the Chinese to develop a Bus system. What makes this battery the best is that its liquid is charged outside of the battery then in the short time it takes to replace the liquid you have just used it is fully charged and ready to roll.Research it on the web.

  19. Ed Ring says:

    The difference between a Tango and a Porsche is that the Tango flips on its side at +1.5 G’s, and a Porsche simply starts to skid – regaining control is still very likely with a Porsche. The Tango is a great idea, and sounds safer than a bike, but it’s no Porsche, in my humble opinion.

    By the way, we have now posted information on the Vanadium Battery.

  20. bobsta bean says:

    i am not yet able to buy a car but if the price came down by approximately $45,000 i would find it affordable the g wiz i a much mre affordable option at $14,000 please lower price and i will be inclined to buy a tango from bonsta bean

  21. Roman from Italy says:

    GM and analyzing and “working” in the new generation of electric cars. Ford is “analyzing” whether extending the technology that was purchased for the Escape to other vehicles …….. looks like everybody is studying this or that “projects” uhhhh! very interesting!!
    I give my humble advice: If you want to see the work of a winner, an introducer of new technologies, a company that works and gets real results when people need do you have to look in the direction of Toyota Motors. Maybe by this extraordinary way to respond to market needs promptly and with high quality thet are the best while almost all others are bleeding wound for their inefficiencies.
    Studies, future projects ……. BS! ACTIONS! AND SOON as Toyota do!

    These inefficient have to learn to be on the side of the winners.

  22. WillG says:

    I read a great story about electric cars in London titled, “Electric Car Finds Its Niche,” found here:
    http://economicefficiency.blogspot.com/2008/08/electric-car-finds-its-niche.html

    It lays out how if you live in London, an electric car may be the way to go.

  23. Well, my PV array was installed last week. I have some extra electricity that I’d love to use in an electric vehicle. The $20k Tango is still at least 3 years from reality. I hope to buy a Vectrix scooter this year.

  24. chefp says:

    The range specs are overly optimistic. I’d be surprised if lead-acids could go 20-40 mi, especially considering that leads can’t be discharged beyond 50% before the plates start destroying themselves. And with any high amount of acceleration, you’re looking at 10-20 mi.

    Same for the NiMH and Lithium range numbers. More realistically they’re half what this article quotes based on what I’ve seen in EVs.

    Kerry – best to do some thorough research on current battery technology. Sometimes healthy skepticism is called for, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

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