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Posts tagged: Rick Woodbury

There’s another feature film due out later this year featuring Tangos in bit parts

Earlier this week we mentioned the cameo that Rick Woodbury's Tango electric car landed in a feature film, “Robot and Frank.”

We learned there is one other film probably to be released in 2012 that will feature four Tangos. It's “Looper,” and like “Robot and Frank,” it's set in the not-distant future. 

“Looper” was filmed in New Orleans and is time-travel adventure yarn about mercenaries who are paid to send their prey back in time. Its cast includes Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis. It will have lots of explosions, something that won't happen in the other film.

Here's the IMDB page for “Looper.” 

Rick Woodbury’s electric Tango lands a cameo in new flick ‘Robot and Frank’

One of the Spokane-made Tango electric cars developed by Rick Woodbury shows up in the trailer of the new summer film “Robot and Frank.” The flick features Susan Sarandon and Frank Langella.

Woodbury is the founder of, one of Spokane's better-known but underfunded startups. It creates electric vehicles that hold two, and that can handle any highway condition.

The owner of the car lives in California.

Spokane’s Tango featured on cover of TechBriefs magazine

Spokane's best-known, homegrown electric car, the Tango, is the featured photo on the cover of TechBriefs magazine's October issue.

Developed by Rick Woodbury of Commuter Cars Corp., the Tango is a two-seat electric car that has wowed green consumers worldwide. Woodbury has sold Tangos to actor George Clooney, and to Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

The article at TechBriefs focuses on how design is driven by consumer demand, and how design software plays a key part in developing sustainable vehicles.

The Tango's design was enhanced by Dassault Systems, a Concord, Mass., company that has developed CAD tools under the brand name of SolidWorks Sustainability.

If you care to see Clooney next to the Tango that he bought back several years ago, here's the link.

Virginia vehicle gets $5 million Automotive X Prize

In late July we noted that Spokane car-maker, Rick Woodbury, was eliminated from the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize. His electric car, the Tango, was strong enough to reach the final 15, but failed to complete a key efficiency test in the finals.

Today the awards were announced for the three winning vehicles in the competition.

Notably, the top money went to a car developed by a group out of Virginia who avoided the electric-vehicle model. Instead, their car, Very Light Car No. 98, runs on a combustion engine, using E85, a gas-ethanol blend. (Photo above, from a summary on CNet.)

It has an efficiency rated at 102.5 m.p.g. That team wins $5 million for their effort in the four-seat mainstream category of the competition.

The contest also awarded cash prizes for side-by-side two-seat vehicles and for tandem two-seater (front and back, the same as the Tango’s category). Team Li-Ion won $2.5 million for its side-by-side Wave II.  An electric car, Wave II  has a 170-mile range and top speed of 80 mph.

Tango eliminated from the Automotive X Prize

Spokane car maker Rick Woodbury lost his bid to win this year’s Progressive Automotive Xprize, and with it a chance to take home part of the $10 million prize.

Woodbury’s two-seat electric vehicle, the Tango, was knocked out last week in the finals leading up to the very last stage of the race, which was announced last year. Progressive Insurance is the sponsor of the competition, taking place this month in Michigan.

The Tango was knocked out due to failing to reach the required threshold of operating at the equivalent of 100 mpg. Woodbury said the Tango performed at the 90 mpgE rating.

For the full list of remaining cars, here’s the Automotive Xprize leader board.


A quick overview of why new auto technology costs so much

Our recent post on the continuing quest by Spokane inventor Rick Woodbury to win the Automotive X Prize produced questions by commentators. Among them:  Who would buy one of his cars, when they cost about $120,000?  What does it mean to say the test requires contestants to develop motors that operate with 100 M.P.G. equivalence? How do you explain that equivalence?

This 2008 interview at the Web2Summit (hosted by with Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk touches on those points, and adds a lot more interesting discussion on the challenge of developing successful electric vehicles.

Good luck, Rick Woodbury.

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

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.

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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