Tiny car ready to tango

Last updated 05:00 15/04/2014
Tango car
KEVIN STENT/ Fairfax NZ
SKINNY MINI: Wellington city councillor Andy Foster tries out the half-sized Tango car. 

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The skinniest electric vehicle to hit Wellington's streets caused quite a stir - and not just for its looks.

The speedster, thinner than many motorbikes, was on show in Civic Square yesterday, touted as the solution to the capital's traffic congestion problems.

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.

They let Wellington City Council's transport portfolio leader Andy Foster take the car out for a spin.

"It's got plenty of grunt," Foster said. "You just put your foot down and it just takes off."

The pint-sized roadster, which accelerates to 100kmh faster than a Ferrari 458 Italia supercar, drew a few stares. "Plenty of smiles and waves - it was really quite funny."

But before they reinstate the capital's extinct car-manufacturing industry, Greening and Woodbury need an multimillion-dollar order for a few thousand vehicles. They hope the council could be the first big customer of the cars, which are expected to cost about $29,000 a pop. They are also pitching the idea to central government and Auckland City Council.

"It's a pretty exciting proposition," Foster said. "I wouldn't want to make the call at this stage, but one thing we're interested in is a car-share scheme."

The environmental benefits of the cars, which would reduce emissions by being electric themselves and through less petrol wasted from all traffic idling on clogged motorways, was another appeal. The council already has two electric cars in its pool.

Wellington office worker Simi I'anson-Corrin said she didn't mind the look of the car, which seats one person in front and another behind. She could possibly see herself driving one. "I'd be worried about the wind factor, though."

Half-priced car parking would certainly appeal, however.

Prospective Tango owners would be in good company - Gravity star George Clooney bought the first model in 2005.

TANGO BY THE NUMBERS

1 metre wide, 2.5m long, 1.5m high

240kmh top speed, produced by two motors

0-100kmh in 3.2 seconds

380km range

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4 times more side-door protection bars than a standard car, on top of a roll cage

10 hours to charge from a standard power point

12 in the world

$230,000 price tag currently, to be mass-produced at approximately $29,000 each.

- The Dominion Post

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