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