Commuter Cars Tango

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Commuter Cars Tango
The Tango is 8 ft 5 in (257 cm) long and 39 in (990 mm) wide]
ManufacturerCommuter Cars
Front view

The Commuter Cars Tango is a prototype ultra-narrow electric sports car designed and built by Commuter Cars, an electric car company based in Spokane, Washington.


Commuter Cars was founded in Spokane, Washington, by Rick Woodbury and his son Bryan Woodbury in 1998.[1] Bryan Woodbury says that his father had come up with the original idea sometime in the early 1980s.[2] He had learned that 106 million people in the United States were driving to work alone. He came up with the idea for a single-seat electric car. Starting in the 1980s, Woodbury started researching hydrogen power, which lead to fuel cells. The relatively light weight of the fuel cells led to his idea of a stable, narrow vehicle with a low center of gravity. While waiting for fuel cell technology to catch up,[3] he eventually settled on a design for the car to have individual electric motors for each wheel. In his spare time, he worked on building his first car. In 1998, he sold his yacht to fund the company.[4] He settled on a plan to use parts that were already produced, instead of producing every part for the vehicles. Commuter Cars used various parts manufactured for other, more common cars.[5] Among those parts was a safety cage made to NASCAR specifications.[6]

Production of the first of their line of ultra-narrow electric sports cars began with the Tango T600. The company designed a small electric car.[7] They stated that production of the first version, at a rate of about 100 cars per year, was set to begin in late 2005.[needs update] Actor George Clooney took delivery of the first Tango kit on August 9, 2005, which was a major milestone for the company. Clooney appeared in the press with the car, explaining its features and promoting it.[7] Difficulties with their UK manufacturer forced Commuter Cars to take over manufacturing themselves; for this reason the second vehicle did not ship until February 11, 2008. It was completely assembled in Spokane, Washington. The second car eventually found its way into the second-floor office of Google CEO Eric Schmidt as part of an April Fools' Day joke.[8]

By 2008, Commuter Cars had only produced 10 cars, which sold for an average of $121,000 each.[4] The company generated a significant amount of media interest with the sale to Clooney. However, that initial media attention did not lead to a production deal.[9]

In 2010, the company entered the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize in the "Alternative" category. The vehicle entered was a Tango T600 owned by Google founder Sergey Brin, borrowed back for the competition. After passing many of the performance tests with ease, the car failed to complete the 100 mile durability run (one of the complicated set of requirements for the prize) and was eliminated from the competition.[6] The company did not get a production deal with a manufacturer, and by 2014, fewer than 20 cars had been built in the United States.[9]

Throughout the company's history, Commuter Cars has had limited financial resources. Whenever the company did generate a profit, they reinvested the money in research and production capacity for their future vehicles.[10] When the company had sufficient funding during 2007, it employed eight workers and was able to manufacture one car each month.[6]

By 2018, Car and Driver magazine gave the company a 1.1 out of 10 chance of survival.[11][needs update]


The Tango is narrower than some motorcycles and may be small enough to legally ride side-by-side with other small vehicles in traffic lanes in some jurisdictions. Capable of seating two passengers in a tandem seating arrangement, it only takes up one-quarter of a standard parking space and is able to park sideways. One prototype vehicle has been produced by the company and was shipped to Prodrive in the United Kingdom in January 2005, where the design was refined for production models.

Commuter Cars states that the Tango's heavy battery pack and low ground-clearance combine to give it a center-of-mass 11 in (280 mm) from the ground, allowing for stable handling. About two-thirds of the 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) curb weight in the prototype is taken up by the batteries, twin motors, and controller, mounted low in the frame. Commuter Cars states that production models are expected to weigh less, ranging from 2,200 to 2,500 lb (1,000 to 1,130 kg).[why?] Propulsion is provided by two electric motors. To extend its range, an optional generator cart can be attached to the Tango.[12]


Commuter Cars notes that a dryer outlet will give most of the charge in an hour, or a full charge in less than 3 hours.[citation needed] With a 120-volt outlet, the batteries can fully charge overnight.[citation needed] With a 200-amp off-board charger, the Tango can be charged to 80% in about 10 minutes.[citation needed]


  • Width: 39 in (990 mm)
  • Length: 101 in (2,600 mm)
  • Weight: 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) (claimed)
  • Batteries: 12 V * 19 Hawker Odysseys or 25 Exide Orbital XCDs or Optima Yellow Tops. Lithium-ion battery options available
  • Nominal voltage: 228 V with 19 Hawkers, 300 V with 25 batteries, 250 V with lithium-ion batteries.
  • Charging: 50 A Manzanita Micro on-board charger with Avcon conductive coupling. 200 A off-board charger under development.
  • Motors: 2 Advanced DC Motors DC FB1-4001 9",[13] one driving each rear wheel with claimed 1,000 lb⋅ft (1,400 N⋅m)[citation needed] of combined torque at low rpms. 8,000 rpm redline.[citation needed] or 4 motors, one for each wheel, lithium batteries.[14]
Performance (claimed)
  • 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h): 3.2 seconds[12][better source needed]
  • 14 mi (0.40 km): 12.25 seconds @ 106 mph (171 km/h)[12][better source needed]
  • Top speed: 150 mph (240 km/h)[12][better source needed]
  • Range: 40–60 miles (96–128 km) with lead-acid batteries. 150 mi (240 km) with lithium-ion batteries.
  • 805 hp claimed.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Company Overview of Commuter Cars Corporation". Bloomberg. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  2. ^ Neal, Rome. "Slim Fit For The Freeways". CBS News. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  3. ^ Hanlon, Mike (19 May 2005). "First 150mph Tango electric performance commuter to be delivered next week". New Atlas. Gizmag Pty Ltd. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Innovation Nation". CNN Money. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. ^ Moody, Brian (March 16, 2011). "In Detail: Tango T600". Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "Despite elimination from Automotive X Prize, Commuter Cars president leaves MIS in triumph".
  7. ^ a b "2005 Commuter Cars Tango". Time. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Schmidt April Fool Cars 1986 & 2008". Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2011-11-05 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ a b "Microcar seen as traffic woe answer". New Zealand Herald. February 14, 2014.
  10. ^ "Tango T600". August 29, 2007.
  11. ^ Berk, Brett (October 26, 2018). "18 Automotive Startups and Their Chances of Survival". Car and Driver. Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d "Commuter Cars Tango Performance". Commuter Cars.
  13. ^ "FB1-4001 Motor". Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  14. ^ a b "Tango Electric Car: The Lane Splitter". Electric Cars are for girls. Retrieved July 16, 2019. The latest version has four motors, one for each wheel, lithium batteries, and 805 hp.


External links[edit]