Office Hours

TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 2010, 1:13 P.M.

Spokane’s Tango electric car and Rick Woodbury progress to the X Prize finals

Rick Woodbury sits in a Tango electric car at his E. Sprague shop where he builds the high-performance commuter cars Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009. He's had an eventful year that included finishing cars for the Google founders and his car competing for the automotive Xprize.  He is sitting in one of Sergey Brin's three Tangos. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Rick Woodbury sits in a Tango electric car at his E. Sprague shop where he builds the high-performance commuter cars Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009. He's had an eventful year that included finishing cars for the Google founders and his car competing for the automotive Xprize. He is sitting in one of Sergey Brin's three Tangos. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane electric car maker Rick Woodbury has made it through the most recent cut at the Progressive Auto X Prize, the worldwide competition that has $10 million in prizes for innovative vehicles.  Side note: we originally said "electric vehicles." In fact, the X Prize is open to all types of vehicles, but the entries have largely been electric.

Woodbury just made it through the "knockout" phase of the competition that will identify the world's  most innovative, hyper-efficient cars.

Woodbury's tandem car, the narrow battery-powered Tango, successfully passed required maneuvering tests and miles-per-gallon-equivalency tests on a race track near Ann Arbor, Mich. Woodbury finished the test early Tuesday (June 29) and began driving the Tango back to Spokane.

The X Prize finals will start July 17, also in Michigan. In the X Prize finals, winning vehicles must perform at the equivalent level of 100 miles per gallon. In the knockout Woodbury had to deliver at least 67 mpg. He said the Tango did about 86 mpg, but he's got a few tweaks to get the engine to the 100-mpg mark.

The competition this spring was down to about 30 teams in three categories. Woodbury's Tango is in the alt-tandem category, where the prize will be $2.5 million.

Five of six entrants in the X Prize tandem group, including the Tango, made it through the knockout, Woodbury said. A sixth entry by a team from Vancouver, British Columbia, failed to move on.

For updates, see Woodbury's X Prize Tango page at http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/teams/tango. 

If the Tango makes it through the finals, the X Prize requires a final validation phase that will involve engineers determining that the performance of the vehicles is consistent and within the rules of the competition. His company, Commutercars.com, has made close to a dozen of the vehicles. The model he's driving in the test is the Tango sold to Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google.

For more news on the X Prize, go to http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/

 




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Thomas Clouse
Thomas Clouse covers area college and high school sports.

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