Saturday, January 16, 2010

Electric cars struggle to spark enthusiasm

Electric cars

Commuter Cars' Tango electric car on show at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

With a curiously squashed, elongated body, the Tango electrically-powered car is as narrow as a single passenger and as nippy as a motorbike. Billed as the world's fastest urban car, it can reach a speed of 130mph. Satisfied customers include the actor George Clooney, and its inventor describes the bizarre vehicle as a "chick magnet".

Built by a US start-up called Commuter Cars, the Tango takes up only half a traffic lane. It can carry two people tandem-style in slightly cramped comfort. Without the need for gears, its battery-powered engine can accelerate from zero to 60mph in four seconds and, with a racing car-style roll cage design, the Tango is supposedly as robust as a Volvo estate car.

"It's unequivocally the fastest car you can buy for an urban environment," says Commuter Cars' president, Rick Woodbury, who has sold 11 of the vehicles so far, at a hefty price of $150,000 (£90,000) each, including a recent delivery to a customer in Surrey. "I drove through Times Square and had girls throwing their arms around me."

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