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by Eddie London, Photo editor

The new electric car companies that have created fast electric cars are California-based Tesla Motors which builds the Tesla Roadsters in Spokane; Washington’s Commuter Car Corporation, which builds the Tango 600, 100, and 200 models; and Cleanova, based in France, which is developing an electric version of the Renault Kangoo, an already popular European car.

According to its Web site, the Tesla Roadster is bringing to the electric car industry acceleration speeds that can compete with a Dodge Viper and any Porsche besides the 911 Turbo. The Roadster is 100 percent electric, goes 0 to 60 in about four seconds, has a top speed of 135 mph, averages 250 miles per charge, and costs about one cent per mile to operate (depending on local power companies). Unlike some of the older electric cars, the Roadster can complete a full charge in as little as 3.5 hours.

The Roadster is a traditionally designed two-seat, open-top, and rear-drive automobile with a two- speed, electric-shift, manual transmission. The outer design was created in collaboration with Lotus’s design team. There are no emissions whatsoever, so no emissions test is required. Other than inspection, the only service recommended for the first 100,000 miles is brake and tire service. The battery life is expected to last in excess of 100,000 miles. The Tesla Roadster costs about $100,000 and the company is taking orders.

The Commuter Car Corporation’s Tango series has a totally unconventional design. The first Tango 600 was purchased by George Clooney. This car will run about $105,000. It reaches 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds, reaches the ¼ mile in 12 seconds at 120 mph. It has a top speed of 150 mph and has a maximum run of 60 to 80 miles on one charge. The cost per mile is about ½ the cost of gasoline, according to the Web site.

The Web site boasts that until Commuter Cars came along, no one could buy their way out of a traffic jam without climbing on a motorcycle. The intriguing aspect of this car is its space-saving concept intended to help people stuck in traffic. The size also helps with parking. This two-seater is a mere 39 inches wide and 8.5 feet long, not even three and a half feet. The Tango is equipped with roll cage meeting SCCA and NHRA racing certification regulations, meaning it can absorb a 200 mph crash. It also has a Cadillac CTS collapsible rack-and-pinion steering column. Height is 60 inches and ground clearance is 4 inches.

The new European electric car is actually a hybrid conversion of a Renault Kangoo by Cleanova. This version will be equipped with an integrated APU range-extender which uses the power developed when the brakes are applied to get better mileage out of the car through a regenerative braking system. The driver can choose whether or not to use the range extender. The car has a small gasoline engine that produces 10 kilowatts of electricity at a fixed number of revolutions. The Kangoo can operate either engine on the 10 kw out of the engine alone. The gas tank is nine liters but is enough to take the car 200 km. It is not possible for the vehicle to recharge while standing still using the gas engine.

The electric engine recharges in about four hours, the Kangoo consumes about 25kwh/100km (62.1 miles). The car will do 120km/hr (74.52 mph), thanks to an “overdrive” system that aids acceleration and driving in snow. Standard airbags, seatbelts, and head restraints for all the passengers come equipped with side airbags as an option.

These new electric vehicles set now expectations and perceptions of what electric cars can be. Driving electric vehicles will greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by powering cars with gasoline. However, until we stop burning coal to generate electricity, switching over to plugging your car in, instead of pumping gas into it, will not effectively reduce global warming.

Roadster Specs

• 0 to 60 in four seconds.
• Costs about one cent per mile.
• 250 miles per charge
• Can complete a full charge in as little as 3.4 hours.



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