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Two to Tango
Jamais Cascio, 11 May 05

tango.jpgLast February, we reported on the Naro, a two-seat tandem concept vehicle co-designed by Coventry University's Art & Design department and British motorsport company Prodrive. It turns out that Prodrive has been doing more than just imagining narrow vehicles, they've started making them. The Tango is a two-seat tandem electric vehicle moving from test car to production. It's small enough that it can perpendicular park in a parallel parking space, roomy enough for a driver over 6', and can go from 0 to 60 in four seconds.

As that acceleration statistic suggests, the performance of the Tango is impressive for an electric. Its top speed is about 150 miles per hour, with a range of 60-80 miles. Auto enthusiasts will undoubtedly drool over the component specs -- Prodrive makes serious performance equipment as its main business -- and the rest of us will recoil at the price: $85,000. They do plan to make a couple of cheaper models, with appropriately lower performance; the lowest-cost one is targeted to be about $18,500.

What justifies a price like that? Safety. Prodrive has designed the Tango to meet not just the standard vehicle safety requirements, but also the safety requirements of the SCCA and NHRA -- two of the big racing car associations. The Tango's passenger cage is designed to withstand an impact at 200 miles per hour. The racing car-level safety is one performance aspect Prodrive intends to include in all versions of the Tango.

Safety is a big deal with small car designers right now. Green Car Congress has a detailed report on Pininfarina's efforts to design chassis for ultra-compact cars able to withstand full-speed impacts from trucks. The results have been impressive -- simulations suggest that the absorption and redirection of front impact energy could be enough to make airbags unnecessary.

This isn't the approach Prodrive is using, but that's good -- the more ways designers come up with to make certain that small car passengers are secure, the more people will feel comfortable getting in one.

(Tango via Hippyshopper)

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Here's an article about the creator of the Tango, a former Grand Prix racer and Zen priest:

Interesting guy.

Posted by: HC on 11 May 05

It's hard to believe that little thing weighs 2,500 lbs.

Interesting approach, but it seems like they make a lot of strange trade-offs to achieve its performance and stability.

Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 11 May 05

They do many expensive things so that people can drive fast.

I'd rather not have to drive at all.

A matter of taste ... but then a zillion tastes (and money etc of course) make up a civilization.

Posted by: Lucas Gonzalez on 12 May 05



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