The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
April 18, 2014

Easter bunny

The smallest car I’ve ever seen, since my Matchbox days at least, lead to this little micro-mini number appearing in Wellington the other day. You can read all about it here.

Question is, is the Tango just too small to – well, tango? It’s a two seater, i think, with one passenger behind the other, so its pretty much just an electric motorbike with a plastic box over the top. Councillor Foster, ever keen to be part of the Transport debate, managed to squeeze himself in, and even though he’s undoubtedly perfectly proportioned himself, it seems that even then his head couldn’t fit inside the car.
“Owner Toa Greening believes if 4000 commuters swapped their car for the Tango model, the city’s motorway gridlock and parking woes would be a thing of the past. The vehicles could travel two per lane in a staggered formation, similar to motorbikes. Greening and the automatic car’s American inventor, Rick Woodbury, are looking to set up the world’s first Tango manufacturing plant, and believe Wellington could be ideal.”
So would this really solve the transport crisis? Would having smaller cars solve the problem of having too many cars? Yes, they could drive two abreast, but that only works if absolutely everyone in the city has one of these, and nothing else. If one person has a truck, or an SUV, then we’re back to square one. There’s another big issue here though. As one of only a dozen of these Tango’s world-wide, the cost per car is astronomical – over $200k each. But mass production would, apparently, bring this down to a mere $29,000 – which actually is still really expensive. For something that is a lot less cool, only slightly more safer, and not a whole lot bigger than a motorcycle, then the cost price needs to be a lot closer to that of a Honda 50 than a Harley Davidson.

But with a motorbike you can lean into a corner, quickly overtake, power out of danger, and otherwise wend and weave your way down the road. Motorbikes have a sense of freedom, and escape from claustrophobia that the Tango just doesn’t seem to portray, at least not in any planet I know of. Not only does it have the scary prospect of having to share the road with large trucks, it looks as though it has already had an uncomfortable run in with a couple of them. Sadly, despite her alleged green credentials, I somehow don’t think that the Mayor is going to be volunteering us for several thousand of them.
In the mean time, while we all kick back in this balmy Easter weather…. and do some sunbathing under the flyover… why don’t we just enjoy the possibly improbable sight of the small car taking over the city – thanks to Councilor Foster – Wellington does the Tango!

alan
18 - 04 - 14

Classic !

denny
18 - 04 - 14

I see George Clooney’s Tango is up for sale for a mere US$300k… http://www.greenerideal.com/lifestyle/entertainment/0418-celebrities-who-own-electric-cars/

For that price it is marketed to the super-rich who don’t need a car as a status symbol and can say, “look at me, I’m saving the planet”… This seems to be well over-designed “camel”(4x more side impact than an SUV / 0 to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds / racing car roll cage / 4 point safety harness etc). At the price, it sure ain’t a people’s car and won’t really solve any world problem unless you’re George.

denny
18 - 04 - 14

And it’s 10% heavier than my old Daimler… and that’s a heavy beast!

Gloria
18 - 04 - 14

George Clooney could solve all my world problems! What a lovely man….

andy foster
19 - 04 - 14

Love it Max ! (though a bit frightening !)
Just on some of your comments re the Tango
Safety – While with only 12 of them produced to date they obviously haven’t done the crash testing a production, and as yet no airbags, but it does have a Nascar body cage – so I’d say that’s a lot more protection than any motorcycle.
It also has a lot more grunt than any Honda 50 ! It fair raced up Ngauranga Gorge – and I could feel it just take off whenever I put my foot down. (0 – 100 in 3.3 seconds) Would have been fun to test closer to the top speed of 240kph but that might not have been a good look.So I don’t think it would have too much difficulty powering out of danger. You aren’t alone in wondering about stability but as Denny said it’s heavy, and nearly all that weight is in the batteries 4 inches above the ground so it has a very low centre of gravity, and seemed very stable in practice, and in testing.

I’m with you that I don’t really see there being high likelihood of thousands of Tangos replacing the need for any given piece of new roading capacity. However think about parking, inner city residents (what cost to buy a full sized carpark ?), car clubs, second cars for those families where all that is needed is a commute for 1 person or the shopping car.

I’d suggest having some fun and checking out their website Commutercars.com

Cheers

Andy

Maximus
20 - 04 - 14

Thanks Denny, Alan and Gloria for your comments, and thanks too to Councilor Foster – glad you enjoyed the piece and your starring role. Had to make do with the only photo I had! I’ll get you a big colour copy for your office…. – which one is your favourite? Re your comments Andy – useful to have that feedback, especially as they didn’t offer me a drive. Certainly sounds very zippy. Any form of plug in electric vehicle certainly makes more sense to me than a petrol engine. I’ll buy one when the price comes down.

Harry T
20 - 04 - 14

Lots of small orange cars = bi amusement factor. The interesting thing for me about your middle picture, is that you have two flyovers visible, rather than just one as proposed by Transit. What is your point there?

Harry T
20 - 04 - 14

Oops, spelling alert. Bi amusement factor sounds like I’m laughing at Trans-gender people.
Obviously, I meant Big.

Maximus
20 - 04 - 14

Harry – the second picture has two bridges because, at that point, the pedestrian bridge peels off and lands at a separate point to the road bridge. The picture is based on a Truescape view, which showed e base of the two poles, but was conveniently clipped so as to not show any part of the pedestrian bridge. A bit dishonest I would have thought… …so I stuck it back in again.

m-d
22 - 04 - 14

It’s clear that you don’t work at a University, Maximus – I can’t imagine you got release forms from Andy and all his minions for those images!

davidp
22 - 04 - 14

The other day I saw a car with a dog sitting on the passenger seat. The dog’s head was sticking out the car window so the dog could enjoy the breeze and the opportunity to look out for other dogs, interesting sticks, and dog biscuits.

I think if that dog were seated in a bright orange mobility-scooter-with-a-roof, then he would be hiding inside in shame. Hoping that other dogs wouldn’t see him, point, and laugh. Which shows that dogs have more sense than Andy, who seems to be quite pleased he is sitting in a crapmobile.

The chance of this taking off are close to zero. Probably less than amphibious cars or jet packs, where inventors have been rolling out impractical prototypes every few years since the industrial revolution.

Maximus
23 - 04 - 14

M-d. – sorry to hear of your plight. Release forms? Schmuck! Schmozzle! Come and work at the Fish – no such worries here!

DavidP – harsh… I’d love to have a go in one of these cars – just waiting for the price to come down. It’s clear to me that our form of transport needs to change over the next 50 years, as oil becomes more expensive and harder to find – the question is what will replace the 4 cylinder petrol engined car. People are trying to predict the future here – they may be wrong, they may be right. 50 years ago, they thought we would all be flying jet packs. That didn’t happen either (but you did see the post we wrote on it though, didn’t you?). Currently we are pushing that electric will win out. Or will it be hydrogen? Or will we regress back to everyone riding Honda 50s, using second-hand cooking oil as fuel? Or maybe even using those dogs to pull us on anti-gravity sleds….

Gloria
23 - 04 - 14

Max, your comment reminded me of this project, from last year. An electric powered, cargo carrying, possibly folding scooter. Surely the way of the future? http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130714-hole-new-design-for-scooters

davidp
24 - 04 - 14

Gloria>Surely the way of the future?

Or the way of the past. Andy’s ride looks an awful lot like one of these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Aviation_Scamp

Spookily, the Andy-mobile and the Scamp both sold about a dozen vehicles.

Eye of the Fish | A wide-angle view of architecture, urban design and life in Wellington
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[…] for the edge of the western portal. Unlike the Mt Victoria tunnel portal (featured so prominently in this recent post), there is no symmetry involved in this design. It is always the most nerve wracking time of a […]

Michael Weiser
20 - 05 - 14

As a fan of the Tango for 7 years, I’m very excited about the car and Toa’s proposal. Your pictures are terrific.

– Michael Weiser
Buffalo Grove, Illinois USA