When it came right down to getting the transportation you paid for and keeping you safe, the Tango electric car was very safe, thanks to the roll-cage design from an experienced manufacturer (Prodrive). The construction passed some important safety inspections and was believed to be safe at very high speed.
But this was an electric car, right?
The general opinion is that electric cars were meant to be driven at low speed and for short distances.
The idea behind the electric vehicle is simple: economy without using fossil fuels. The Tango had that feature (economy) because of its electric power but protection for the occupant was far beyond what was absolutely necessary.
Horizontal strength bars and vertical sections gave this car even more safety features than some of the most expensive sports-utility vehicles. Add to this the ability to accelerate from a standing start to 60 mile per hour in four seconds and you have a unique entry into the electric car field.
Not for the Neighborhood
Tango electric cars began life in the Commuter Cars facility in Seattle, Washington. The vehicle had one seat and was only about four feet wide. This made it a great car for single-person commuting, especially if you wanted to get to your destination before everyone else.
You also had to have more than $100,000 to purchase one of these rather odd little vehicles. The motor produces an astonishing 800 peak horsepower with 1,000 foot-pounds of torque. But there's more to this story. The car was designed to be a kit that was delivered without a drive train or battery pack! Owners had to add these items for an additional $150,000. Quite a bit for a one-person vehicle.
Tango cars began to appear on the scene in 2005 and have gone through a few alterations since that time. The company eventually designed a couple of new models that carried more reasonable price tags ($20,000 to $40,000). The cars could be charged in about three hours in a standard 220-volt receptacle and would carry you up to 80 miles.
There's little doubt that the Tango electric car would capture your attention if you saw one on the road. The car almost looks like a two-passenger, tiny electric car that was cut in half.
It's skinny, tall, fast and, believe it or not, luxurious!
The Tango was so skinny that designers envisioned it making its way through traffic by splitting lanes or traveling between a side railing and the outside lane if necessary (as long as the cops weren't looking).
It could be parked in motorcycle parking spaces and would occupy less than half a car space on the ferry, if you needed to cross the water to get to your destination. The finish is considered top-of-the-line, as is the well-made interior. Orders were originally taken only through the company Web site, though distribution of the less-expensive models in 2008 and 2009 changed things just a bit.
Takes One or Two to Tango
So, we have a single-seat car that is luxurious, fast and expensive.
How does it work in the real world?
Drivers report that it is very maneuverable and handles very well, with good brakes and great driver vision. The Tango passes the strictest rollover tests, primarily because the batteries are located below the car, giving it a low center of gravity. Some reviews compare the rollover rating to the Porsche.
Some folks have wondered about parking two or more Tango electric cars in the same parking space. This would depend on your local laws but some cities have had no problem with this as long as traffic is not obstructed.
Most people who look at the Tango for the first time are concerned about feeling closed in or extremely confined since the car is only four feet wide. However, they generally find that the seating and driving are quite comfortable. There seems to be plenty of head room and leg room, in spite of the design. In fact, a second adult can sit rather comfortably behind the driver in a second seat.
The price on the original Tango was high because of the low number of cars produced. The company reported that the parts for the early luxury model cost nearly $70,000. Upgrades were available by custom order. The original Tango also came with a 10-year warranty (unlimited mileage).
There is one other feature of the original Tango that draws some understanding nods from those who question the price. The chassis and battery compartment are made of stainless steel. That means no rust! Range is expected to improve to more than 100 miles and perhaps up to 200 miles before recharge. That should get even more attention from the buying public (along with new models at a lower price).