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
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.
• 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.