Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two Tangos at Los Angeles Auto Show

Tangos are on display at the Los Angeles Convention Center through Thanksgiving weekend.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Tango Brochure

Please click here to download the new 6-page Tango brochure
We're printing 50,000 brochures for the Los Angeles Auto Show where Tango(s) will be on display from November 18 through 28th. I'm taking the orange Tango to Miami next week by trailer from Spokane for the screenings of "What is the Electric Car." I will then transport it to the LA Show.

If you're on the fence about purchasing a Tango, please be sure to read the last page, which sheds light on many possible considerations.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tango resale tab added to web page

The Tango just listed under re-sales has only 289 miles and is available immediately. It is fully-assembled and registered in California. This is perfect for anyone who does not want to wait to have a custom Tango built, which is between 4 to 6 months wait. It will be delivered with LiFePO4 battery and a freeway range of 120 miles.


Monday, August 23, 2010

YouTube Video of Tango Flying Through Chicane During Automotive X-Prize Finals

Just received this video (click on this link) taken by Michael Woon, of the Tango going through the chicane at Michigan International Speedway during finals. During this run, the Tango achieved both 100 miles and 100 MPG equivalent with approximately 10% state of charge at the end. This, despite rather aggressive driving, but not as tough as the stop and go in the urban and city cycles. And, of course, this time without running the air conditioning.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tango Climbs Mt. Shasta

Thomas Greither, takes a friend up to the end of the road on Mt. Shasta in his Tango. Both are over 6-ft. tall. This photo is at 9,000-ft of elevation. It the first electric car that we know of that's climbed Mt. Shasta. It did this with ease and the round trip only used 35% of the charge. His Tango is now equipped with 1,000 Headway energy cells, 10 in parallel and 100 in series. This gives him 32 kWhrs, which is about 120 miles of 60 mph relatively level freeway driving.

A year ago, when he only had lead-acid batteries, I followed him around Mt. Shasta and visited some lakes. I was driving the black Tango. It was a most memorable experience, as he drives very fast and the windy roads were a blast. We tried to go to top of Shasta that time, but the road was closed half way up.

Following are some photos from that adventure:


Monday, August 2, 2010

Tango: A Progressive Automotive X-Prize Finalist

The Tango was never designed to be the most fuel-efficient car in the world. To do that, safety and rollover threshold would be compromised. The fact that the 3,300-pound Tango made it to finals in the Automotive X-Prize competition is quite remarkable.

Following is the official data from the efficiency event. Note that although the Tango was less than 1% short of the required MPGe to go to Argonne for the Validation Stage, it needed 104 MPGe, because of the emissions requirement. They use a national grid average to calculate the emissions from creating the electricity for the grid. It's obviously very unfair when considering solar charging, but even if the California or Washington grids were used because of the predominance of hydro and natural gas, it would not be an issue. It's all of the electricity generated from coal that skews it against EVs.

Following is a breakdown of the Tango's efficiency for each cycle independently.

89.07 MPGe. (387.269 Wh/mi.)
This was a combined Urban, City, and Highway cycle.

The Urban Cycle was 74.34 MPGe (464.75 Wh/mi.)
It was 16 miles of start and stop many times per lap at lower speeds.

The City cycle was 58.86 MPGe (586 Wh/mi.)
This was 30 miles of acceleration to 50 mph and brake twice per lap, and then 40 mph in-between. It's a 2-mile oval.

As you can see, the starts and stops w/o regen and a 3,300-lb car really hurt efficiency. The motorcycles that competed in our class were getting 180 to 200 MPGe, but only weigh 1,300 lbs. The way the rules were written, there was no way to beat them.

The Highway Cycle was 112.21 MPGe (307 Wh/mi.)
This was 90 miles of 50 mph, but stopping once every 5 laps (10 miles).

All of the above Wh/mi calculations are reading from the meter on the wall, and includes all inefficiencies including losses at charging and at the cells.

During the Urban Cycle, I had to run the A/C constantly. The rules were that if the cabin temp exceeded 95°, a full penalty lap would be added. In the driver's meeting, they pleaded with us to follow the rules and not allow cabin temp to rise above that limit. The other teams in our class did not run A/C. One or two used buckets of ice to keep their cabins cool. Many of the teams went to the competition with cars built especially to win the competition, so the purpose of the competition, to provide vehicles that people want to drive, was virtually ignored in many cases

Durability was an event at Shakedown. It was 40 miles of the roughest track you can imagine. I was within 2 seconds per lap of the fastest car which was a Factory-5 electric race car. I had a blast driving lap after lap pushing the limit at every turn, and then rewarded by never having to stop. I lapped all the other cars in my group several times.

In the finals Range Test, I ran out of juice at 99 miles. I was half way around the final lap when I ran out. I heard that the temperature was recorded at 120° on the lawn that afternoon. I ran with A/C on full blast, but it seemed to lose efficiency. The evaporator might have frozen up. In any event, drawing 8 amps for nearly 2 hours ate up 5 kWhrs or 20 miles of range. I thought that I had plenty of margin, but miscalculated. Being eliminated because of efficiency, I didn't have a lot to lose, and thought that I could at least run the 100 miles without cabin temp penalty. So 49 1/2 laps is all she wrote with the A/C compressor running at 6,500 rpm.

The final event was a tie-breaker for all of the teams that made it through the qualification runs. It was run at any speed between 45 and 70 mph, but had a very tight chicane midway around the track. They let me run with the other eliminated cars in a demonstration run. Driving at 60 to 65 mph, I lapped every other car at least 3 times in my group during the 100 miles, which I finished with 10% of charge remaining. Luckily, it was not so hot so I never ran the A/C.

I got exactly 100 MPGe on that run of 100 miles using 34 kWhrs, or 340 Wh/Mi at the meter and had 10% state of charge left at the end.

Those of us that were eliminated also got to run the acceleration, braking, and emergency lane change events as a demonstration class. The Tango passed these with huge margins.

David Champion, Director of Consumer Reports Automotive Testing said that I had the fastest time of any of the cars in the X-Prize competition by running the emergency lane change at 51 mph. The test had to be completed at 45 mph to pass. I passed the test on the first try at knockout, but forgot that there was a camera attached on the side at the finals and took out a cone (and the camera) on the first run. The second was at 51 mph.

The CO2 numbers for the national grid today have little to do with CA where many times more EVs will be sold than elsewhere in the country, and doesn't account for the fact that the grid gets cleaner every year with added wind, solar, and even improvements to coal burning plants.

All in all, the Automotive X-Prize competition was a very worthwhile event. I look forward to the awards ceremony at the White House on September 16, where I'll be with the Tango, the winners of the 3 prizes, and the other finalists.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tango passes X-Prize Knockout. Consumer Reports, regarding emergency-avoidance maneuver: "And the sleek, fast, orange Tango passed on the first try."

I'm just returning now from a successful completion of the X-Prize Knockout event. Staying in Bismarck ND tonight, I should be back in Spokane Tomorrow. I'll be taking the Tango back to Finals at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) on July 18 through 30th.

During the Shakedown event last month, Consumer Reports captured the Tango in the 0 - 60 acceleration and braking events, but didn't get the the emergency-avoidance (moose test or double lane change, as it's often called), before I had finished it. During Knockout, to the best of my knowledge, the Tango was the only car that passed the test on the first try. This time Consumer Reports had a camera fastened to my windshield. I haven't seen the video yet, but hope to soon. Here is the article just posted today with their photo above. Consumer Reports


Saturday, June 26, 2010


We are still contenders in the Automotive X-Prize competition due to no small contribution from other teams and volunteers. We've now completed the first week of the Knockout stage which consisted of economy runs which require 67 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent) and a range, in our class, of 67 miles at 60 mph. We completed these easily, of course, however, the urban and city driving cycles brought the Tango down to 86.8 MPGe due to lack of regen which we sacrificed in order to have the extreme torque of two series-wound traction motors. The Tango, being one of the heaviest vehicles in the competition, weighing in at nearly 3,300 lbs, (the same weight as a Subaru Outback) has a huge handicap for stop and go and a smaller handicap of rolling resistance. The Tango does have the benefit of half of a normal car's frontal area which helps with reduction of aerodynamic drag at higher speeds.

The real problem for the Tango in this competition was being prepared with all of the data logging instrumentation and other requirements for passing the tech inspection. In addition, despite the fact that the Tango has nearly 200 lbs of lead ballast in the bottom of the battery box, because that was added voluntarily, the rules still required another 38 lbs of ballast to be added to make up for some of the production equipment not included (anti-lock brakes, air bags, etc), and the weight differential between my weight and 200 lbs. This was added to the front trailer hitch receiver in the form of a block of steel 3" x 4" x 11", just 4" off the ground in the front.

Before leaving for Michigan for the X-Prize Knockout event, my wife Alice and I had just completed a week long installation of a battery management system in Thomas Greither's Tango. This took place at Pacific EV in Seattle where we only got 2 to 4 hours of sleep a couple of the nights. Following the successful installation and delivery of the Tango with 32 kWhrs of Headway cells (120 mile range at 60 mph), we had very little time to install the new 10"-deep stainless battery box in the X-Prize Tango. Tim Foster of Patriot Motors in Spokane volunteered his help with the installation which made it possible for me to make the solo drive to Michigan International Speedway in time not to be disqualified last Sunday. We are the only Automotive X-Prize team with only one member.

Upon arrival, with less than 2 hours of sleep for the whole drive towing the Tango and tool boxes, it was quite discouraging to feel so unprepared to have all of the new battery management system (BMS) modifications installed and the whole data acquisition system still in a box with the instructions still unread, plus a new 50 page booklet of rules, that it seemed there would be no way to make it through tech inspection, which would mean expulsion.

I mentioned my discouragement to several of the X-Prize staff, and to my amazement, several teams sent their team members to help. I feel like I was almost adopted by the Li-ion motors who had engineers and technicians helping to get the Tango prepped as if it was their own team. In particular, Luc Pham focused on the data acquisition system, while Abiyu Negede drew up a schematic for the relay board for the BMS and then soldered it up. I checked it out the next day to find it flawless. I hooked it up and the Elite Power Solutions BMS worked perfectly by shutting down the current on the charger at high cell voltage precisely while shutting down the AC input to the charger on over temp. It also shuts down the motor controller on either a low voltage or high temperature alarm. Davis Nguyen and others of the team were always there to help push the Tango to the Track, (a requirement for all cars), and all constantly available and asking to help.

I owe the deepest debt of gratitude to all of them and other teams that also helped in any way. Brad with the FVT team helped immensely with the programming of the MoTeC dash to transmit to the data acquisition system. Their team is a direct competitor in our class, yet treated us as their own. The West Philly team was also helping by running errands to town for parts and even went to a steel company for me in Jackson, many miles away to bring back the ballast.

The X-Prize has been a great learning experience for all of us and seems that that is more important to all than who wins, despite the high stakes.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Washington Governor Gregoire Visits Commuter Cars

Governor Gregoire visited last Friday for most of an hour. She made some very bold statements about the potential of the Tango. Hopefully investors will understand its potential as well as she does. Following is a short video of her reaction


Monday, May 3, 2010

More on the Tango and other Automotive X-Prize Teams from Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports conducted 3 tests for the Automotive X-Prize Shakedown event at Michigan International Speedway; zero to 60 acceleration, braking, and a double lane change. The Tango is included in this Consumer Reports' video showing acceleration, and blew some minds.
Unfortunately, the Tango went through the evasive maneuver so quickly that Consumer Reports didn't get to the other side of the track fast enough to video what I've heard was the fastest time through the double lane change. We did, however, get video of it. As you can see, this maneuver is rather unremarkable for the Tango.

Yuan Dao of Elite Power Solutions in Phoenix Arizona, supplier of the LiFePO4 cells and battery management system used in the Tango for these events, took these videos. The following is of the Tango on the 40 mile endurance run which it completed much quicker than any other car in the group.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Tango passes Automotive X-Prize Shakedown Event at Michigan International Speedway

There were lots of issues to contend with up to the end, but got through with flying colors.

Consumer reports had something to say about our achievements:

We have a brand new LiFePO4 pack and had a cell failure. We had the pack out, which was rather easy, having a lift and using the removal kit that I brought along.

After bypassing the cell, I ran the endurance run today on the MIS test track. It was very rough road, over two miles of every kind of turn and elevation change. In our group, The Tango was the only one completing the full 40 miles without having to pit. I lapped a bunch of cars and never got passed. In fact, I had the second fastest time of all competing teams. I ran a fast lap of 2:05.2, only 3 seconds slower than the factory 5 car that ran a 2:02. They kept motioning me to slow down, but I was having way too much fun. I was drifting a turn right in front of the judges and using up every last inch of track. The track was wild--like an old torn-up country road. I was still developing my line up through the last lap--there were so many odd patches of road to contend with. The Tango handled them great though. I had the current set to half, at 1,000A to be nice to the battery, and didn't even accelerate close to that potential. I could easily have beat that Factory 5 car if I had pushed it.

Yesterday I was at a press conference in Lansing where I got to introduce the Tango to Michigan Governor Granholm. A lot of press was there, and they had the Tango right at the stage.

Some news on the event:

Then go to Clean Car Competition under videos.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Record Set: 122.5 miles @ 60 mph; 249.8 Wh/mi with 30.6 kWhrs

While doing a mileage run, I shot this photo of the Tango's shadow.
This nicely illustrates how easily it fits in half a lane.

The new Headway LiFePO4 pack is now delivering over 30 kWhrs under freeway driving conditions at 60 mph. This morning my wife Alice and I drove 122.5 miles on a charge on relatively level freeway (a couple hundred feet of elevation change). This worked out to 249.8 Wh/mile. The Progressive Automotive X-Prize requires 100 miles of range and an equivalent of 100 mpg. This is defined as MPGe. The conversion used is 32.82 kWhrs = 1 gallon of gasoline. This means that we need to achieve 328 Wh/mi or better to qualify. This is as measured at the wall receptacle, so charging and battery inefficiency must be considered. A couple of days ago, we drove 80.7 miles with a 252.75 Wh/mi reading from on-board instruments, while the kWhr meter on the wall read 24 kWhrs. That works out to 297 Wh/mi. That's an 85% efficiency. After equalizing the cells all night, the meter at the wall read 25 kWhrs or 310 Wh/mi, which is still well within the requirement--all this with an extra 200 lbs of lead ballast and a second passenger.

With 100 more volts and much less sag from the battery pack, the Tango is now much much faster than with the lead-acid batteries that have been used for all events in the past. We haven't run the 1/4 mile with the Headways yet, but look forward to writing that post.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Range Update on Headway LiFePO4 Battery Pack

Today we just drove the Tango 103 miles, mostly at 75 mph. Range is increasing slightly as another cycle is on the battery. Following is the status from the BMS at the end of the trip.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tango with 32 kWhr pack of Headway LiFePO4 cells goes 108 miles on a charge

Because it was cold and snowing at times, and because this was only the second cycle on the battery, we only used 28 kWhrs out of the 32 kWhrs that the cells are rated for. The Tango used 260 Whrs per mile at an average speed of about 60 mph on highways with about 400 ft of elevation change. The Elithion BMS gave the following status at the end of the trip.

Cell vtg [V]: 3.05 min(# 46) 3.14 avg 3.18 max(# 20)
Total vtg [V]: 314.7
Cell bd temp, all [C]: +23 min(# 14) +29 avg +35 max(# 46)
Cell bd temp, load off [C]: +23 min(# 14) +29 avg +35 max(# 46)
Cell blk res [mOhm]: 25.4 min(# 0) 25.4 avg 25.4 max(# 0)
Total res: 2540 mOhm
Loads on: 0 (Not balancing: avg voltages below min bal vtg)
Cell boards: 100 (# 0 ~ # 99), all reporting
Banks: 12 (# 0 ~ #11), all reporting

This Headway pack has 1,000 cells mounted in parallel groups of 10, and 100 blocks in series. These were then packaged into 12 modules as pictured below.

There is approximately 200 lbs of lead added to the bottom of the battery box to make up for the lighter weight of the lithium cells. Some of this is visible in the photo below.

There are cells available that would allow 50 kWhrs or more to be fitted in the Tango battery box. This would give up to a 200-mile range.


Monday, February 1, 2010

NBC Sports Coverage of Tango at North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Two Tangos at NAIAS, one on Electric Avenue, and another in the Ride & Drive Eco Experience.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Al Lewis, Columnist, Dow Jones Newswires writes story on Tango, published on front page of Denver Post business section.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Tangos at NAIAS Detroit Auto Show and Ride and Drive

We have two Tangos at the NAIAS Detroit Auto Show which is open to the public starting tomorrow, Saturday January 16 and running through January 24th. One is upstairs on the main floor in a section named Electric Avenue. The other one is giving rides all day in the basement, which has been turned into a test track through a very lush green environment. We welcome anyone to come take a ride in a Tango.