Small, Safe, Narrow and Harrowingly Fast: It’s Time to Tango
Before shoes were invented, two guys were walking through the mountains of Tibet. One man turned to the other and said, “I sure wish we could cover the world with leather.”
The other guy paused, looked at his friend, and said, “Or we could just cover our feet.”
It’s a common story, with many variations, but you get the idea.
I had an opportunity to meet with Rick yesterday and ask him a few questions about the fastest urban car in the world. His company has been around for many years and has seen some success, but a potential deal looms that could catapult his company into the mainstream.
Rick speaks passionately about his company and the cars he builds. He tells the story of being stuck in traffic in Los Angeles in the early 1980s and noticing that almost every car stuck with him had a lone driver. To use his words,
I thought about what would be the solution. It was obvious that length of a vehicle was much less important than width for increasing freeway lane capacity in cars per hour. Making a car half as wide, or able to fit in a half lane with adequate clearance, would allow a doubling of lane capacity.
It took about 20 years, but Rick’s company now builds the kind of car that he thinks can solve the problems of congestion and pollution. The Tango is about half the width of a normal car. I sat in one and could easily have an elbow of each arm out both windows at once.
This car isn’t just small and cute, though. It’ll accelerate from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, is as stable in turns as a Porsche 911 and has a race-car roll cage built into the body. Instead of a regular seat belt it has a 4-point harness. Sitting in a Tango is like sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet.
Rick excitedly speaks about his hope to provide cars that solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Instead of building bigger, wider highways, he believes narrower cars can save billions while meeting the same goal of easing congestion. That hope was fueled recently by the city of Auckland, New Zealand, which has proposed putting 100,000 cars like the Tango into commission and thus solving motorway congestion within 4 years.
It’s ambitious, yes, but maybe it’s really no different than simply covering out feet, instead of the world, with leather.
Would you drive a Tango if it meant the end of traffic congestion?