Commuter Cars is a Spokane, Washington based company founded by Rick Woodbury and his son Bryan Woodbury in 1998. They are beginning production of the first of their line of ultra-narrow electric sports cars, the Tango T600. The company designs small ( 69 in. long and 29 in. wide) electric cars.
1980's and 1990's
The founder of commuter Cars (Rick Woodbury) has said some time in the early 1980's, his father came up with the original idea. Woodbury learned that 106 million U.S. commuters were driving to work alone. He decided to produce a single occupant fast electric car. Starting in the 1970s, Woodbury was researching hydrogen power leading to fuel cells. The weight of fuel cells led to the idea of a stable, narrow vehicle with a low center of gravity. Wile waiting for fuel cell technology to catch up. He eventually settled on a design for the car to have individual electric small motors for each wheel. In his spare time he worked on building his first car. In 1998 he sold his yacht to fund the company. He eventually settled on a plan to use parts that were already produced, instead of producing every part in their Commuter Cars. Commuter Cars uses various assemblies manufactured for other, more common cars. Among those assemblies is a safety cage made to NASCAR specifications.
2000 to 2019
By 2008 Commuter Cars had only produced 10 cars which sold for an average of $121,000 each. The first production car was sold to actor George Clooney who took delivery on August 9, 2005. The company generated a significant amount of media interest with the sale to Clooney. However that initial media attention did not lead to a production deal.
In 2010 the company entered the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize in the "Alternative" category. The vehicle entered was a Tango T600 owned by Google founder Sergey Brin, borrowed back for the competition. After passing many of the performance tests with ease, the car failed to complete the 100 mile durability run (one of the complicated set of requirements for the prize) and was eliminated from the competition. The company did not get a production deal with a manufacturer, and by 2014, fewer than 20 cars had been built in the United States.
Throughout the company's history, Commuter Cars has had limited financial resources. When the company did generate a small profit they reinvested the money in research and production capacity for the next vehicles." When the company had sufficient funding, it employed eight workers and was able to manufacture one car a month.
By 2018 Car and Driver magazine gave the company a 1.1⁄10 chance of survival.
- "Company Overview of Commuter Cars Corporation". Bloomberg. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
- "2005 Commuter Cars Tango". Time. TIME USA, LLC. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
- Neal, Rome. "Slim Fit For The Freeways". cbsnews. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
- Hanlon, Mike. "First 150mph Tango electric performance commuter to be delivered next week". New Atlas. GIZMAG PTY LTD. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
- "Innovation Nation". CNN Money. Cable News Network. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
- Moody, Brian (March 16, 2011). "In Detail: Tango T600". Retrieved July 16, 2019.
- "Despite elimination from Automotive X Prize, Commuter Cars president leaves MIS in triumph". AnnArbor.com.
- "Microcar seen as traffic woe answer". New Zealand Herald. February 14, 2014.
- "Tango T600". August 29, 2007.
- Berk, Brett (October 26, 2018). "18 Automotive Startups and Their Chances of Survival". Car and Driver. Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
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