July 28, 2010 in Business

Tango out of X Prize finals

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane’s electric car, the Tango, was eliminated from the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competition. Company President Rick Woodbury was one of 15 drivers who made it to the competition’s recent finals at Michigan International Raceway.

The Tango was knocked out by failing to hit efficiency and driving-range marks, Woodbury said.

The competition will lead to one team winning $10 million for the vehicle that gets at least the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon and is safe, affordable and appealing to consumers. From an original group of more than 130 vehicles, the final group is down to nine.

The X Prize will be awarded to the most efficient vehicle, and Woodbury said he never designed the Tango for that criterion alone. “I designed the Tango as the fastest, safest and most practical car for 90 percent of urban trips,” he said.

Driving his bright orange Tango, Woodbury failed to meet the 100 mpg equivalent requirement. He also was unable to complete the 200-mile range test. In both instances, the car’s performance suffered from running air conditioning during the test, which took place in extreme heat, Woodbury said.

If he had turned off the air conditioning, the Tango might have passed the tests, he added.

Even so, Woodbury said the Tango turned some heads. One California investor has provided $200,000 to help Woodbury’s company continue operating and improve its technology.

Woodbury also said he stayed on this week to run the Tango through the “moose test,” a controlled lane-switching, accident-avoidance drill. Woodbury said the Tango completed the test successfully at an average 50 mph. “That was the fastest of any car during the competition,” he said.

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