In case anyone had any doubts about how electric cars performed in extreme conditions, this is a new video of a Tango plowing through the snow.
After hearing about coworkers and friends not being able to get their cars started in the recent extreme cold, it got me thinking about how electric cars perform in these conditions. There is a prevalent misconception that electric cars don’t work well in the cold; so let’s have a look at what is necessary for an internal combustion vehicle to operate in below freezing temperatures:
* build engine blocks with frost plugs;
* install block heaters to keep the engine warm enough to start (using as much electricity just to start the engine as an electric car might use to completely recharge);
* use different formulations of gasoline and diesel fuel for cold weather;
* use gas-line anti-freeze to prevent gas-line freeze-up;
* use radiator thermostats to help the engine warm up faster (but leaving the passenger cabin cold until the engine has warmed up);
* use auxiliary (electric) heaters in the passenger cabin until engine heat is available;
* let the engine run for 10 to 30 minutes before starting out on a trip to let the engine and passenger cabin warm up;
* change to less viscous winter grade motor oils (e.g. 5W30);
* install winter grill (radiator) covers;
* use glycol or alcohol based engine coolants (anti-freeze), which have to be tested as part of that winter tune-up [Source]
For good measure, below is another example from Electri-History of how these vehicles operate in cold weather:
In early 1897, Electric Carriage and Wagon opened its first charging station on 39th street in Manhattan. Soon, electric taxi’s were shuttling patrons across the city. In early 1898, during a particularly severe snowstorm, the 14 electric taxis continued to operate when horse drawn carriages, trolleys, and buses failed. Newspapers spread the word of the marvelous new contraptions.
And today’s electric cars are not like your traditional car in which your battery is more or less exposed to weather extremes. Now, electric cars have battery packs that are usually in an insulated compartment; in extreme conditions, only the outside of the batteries is effected.
I’m not an expert on drag racing jargon (“beat the dial handicap so he lost the competition”??) so here is the commentary from video submitter, jorgbrown:
On Nov 30th, the fastest production electric vehicles in the U.S. went head-to-head. While their first meeting had a number of issues, most notably the underfilled Tango battery pack, and the Tesla’s non-upgraded drivetrain, the 1/4 mile time is quite close and indicative of races to come.
In this race, the Tango got 92.15mph in 14.480 seconds, beating its 14.7 “dial” handicap and thus losing the competition; the Tesla got 101.23mph in 14.666 seconds, slower than its 14.5 “dial” handicap and allowing it to proceed to the next round. (Two rounds later, the Tango’s driver got behind the wheel of the Tesla and also beat its “dial” handicap… and thus lost!)
Initially, I wasn’t too taken by this EV, and its been around a while, but after seeing it handle and accelerate, it looks like a lot of fun. Instinctively, you think it will tip over around curves, but you have to keep in mind that there are several heavy batteries on the floor, keeping its center of gravity extremely low. It also has a reinforced NASCAR rollcage; so it’s safer than it looks. Commuter Cars Corporation has lofty hopes of getting this car under $20,000; I hope they can do it. Listen to the guy’s reaction to the acceleration at 2:50.
I mean George Clooney’s got one, what else do I have to say?
The Tango is a plug-in EV produced by Commuter Cars Corporation. It may look like a small economy car, but the Tango is neither cheap nor slow. This in-line two-seater will rocket from 0-60 in 4 seconds and can reach a top speed of 135 mph. It meets or exceeds the performance specs of electric supercars like the Tesla Roadster and the Venturi Fetish. It’s price is comparable too, at $108,000. Just watch how a Google exec weaves through highway traffic as Danny from DannysContentment.net holds on for dear life in the backseat:
Also, I was intrigued by Danny’s other Tango video with Google’s solar powered charging station in their parking lot. Hats off to them; what an amazing glimpse into the future. If we could have these at more workplaces, it certainly would make a greener world. Maybe a tax write off as incentive for more companies to put these up would make some execs feel greener:
This is the complete, company released car specifications from commutercars.com:
Tango T600 (kit) Specifications:
(Subject to change.)
Width: 39″ (5″ narrower than a Honda Gold Wing)
Length: 8’5″ long, allowing it to park perpendicular to the curb.
Ground Clearance: 4″
Weight: 3,150 lbs.
Distribution: 43/57 (percent front/rear)
Batteries: 19 Hawker Genesis G70EP lead acid batteries. Li-Ion batteries are optional.
Nominal Voltage: 228 V with 19 Hawkers (350 V with Li-Ion batteries)
Battery Weight: 988 lbs. (Hawker)
Charging: 40 amp on-board charger with Avcon conductive coupling. 200 amp off-board charger under development.
Steering: Rack and pinion with Cadillac CTS collapsible steering column and Momo Corse steering wheel
Front Suspension: Unequal length A-arm with coil-over Carrera shocks.
Rear Suspension: Trailing arm with coil-over Carrera shocks.
Controller: Zilla Z2K motor controller, providing up to 2,000 Amps at 350 Volts (600 kW). Designed and built by Otmar Ebenhoech at Café Electric LLC in Corvalis, OR.
Motors: 2 Advanced DC FB1-4001 9″ motors, one driving each rear wheel with over 1,000 ft-lb of combined torque at low rpms. 8,000 rpm redline.
Transmission: 2 direct drive gear boxes designed by Bert Transmission of St-Constant, Québec, the leading manufacturer of dirt circle track race car transmissions. 10 available ratios from 2.92:1 to 5:1. Standard ratio is 3.86:1. Splined axles can be easily locked together with center sleeve.
Hubs/Wheel Bearings: As used on the Mazda Miata.
Wheels: König alloy wheels: 14 x 6 front/15 x 6.5 rear, 4-100 bolt pattern
Tires: Toyo Proxes T1R: 195/45R14 front; 215/45R15 rear
Brakes: Mazda Miata calipers with Hawk HP Plus (rear) and HPS (front) pads. Wilwood master cylinder and pedal assembly.
HVAC: 12,000 BTU Vintage Air air conditioning system driven by variable speed AC motor for predictable climate control. 3,000 W electric heater for instant-on, powerful heating.
Seating: Tandem Sparco custom bucket seats with 4-point aircraft pilot harnesses on attached structures. Passenger straddles the front seat and harness structures which do not interfere with the passenger’s knees.
Storage: Passenger and a few bags of groceries with rear seat installed. Removed, it allows 2 very large suitcases and a large breifcase with the driver’s seat in extended position. (Rear seat with harness structure is removable through rear hatch.) Multiple compartments for smaller items.
Headroom: 39″ driver and passenger.
Trailer Hitch: Accepts standard 1.25″ hitch for towing generator cart for extended range. Front hitch for moving small airplanes.
Note: Projected performance specifications will vary depending on final weight, gearing, tires, and batteries used. Acceleration figures assume racing slicks are used on a drag strip.
Range: 40-60 miles maximum with Lead-Acid batteries
over 150 miles with Li-Ion batteries
Cost per Mile: About 1/2 the cost of a gasoline car for the average commuter. (See note.)
Acceleration: 0 to 60 MPH, about 4 seconds. 1/4 mile time about 12 seconds at a speed of approx. 120 MPH (See note.)
Top Speed: 135 MPH (See note.)
Cost per Mile:
The average round-trip commute in the U.S. is 20 miles according to the 2000 report from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
For that average commute of 20 miles and up to 24 miles per charge, the total cost per mile of the Tango is approximately 30% lower than that of a Honda Insight. This includes battery replacement, maintenance, and the cost of electricity at $.05 per kWh (as in the Northwest). The Honda Insight has an EPA rating of 56 mpg city and 57 highway. Please see the Cost-per-Mile Spreadsheet for details. This spreadsheet shows how the Tango compares with other vehicles, both Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)-driven and hybrid. It includes gasoline and recommended dealer maintenance costs for the gasoline cars and electricity, maintenance, and battery replacement costs for the Tango.
In California where electricity rates are nearly $.15 per kWh, the total cost per mile for the Tango becomes roughly equal to that of the Insight. Electricity cost per mile runs from 0.9 cents to 2.6 cents as cost per kWh goes from 5 cents to 15 cents.
0 to 60 MPH, about 4 seconds. 1/4 mile time about 12 seconds at a speed of approximately 120 MPH. These figures are based on comparisons with other cars that hold official records with NEDRA (National Electric Drag Racing Association). Calculations have taken weight, motor torque, controller, voltage, gear ratio, and traction into consideration. They assume that racing slicks are fitted and driven on a drag strip with good traction conditions. For example, the world record held for a dragster used the same controller as the Tango in the Current Eliminator IV, with a quarter mile time of 8.801 seconds at 137.65 MPH. The Tango has the same motors that the Maniac Mazda used to achieve an 11.039 second quarter mile at 111.80 MPH.
135 MPH. This is a limitation based on a practical red-line for the motors of about 8,000 RPM with the standard 3.86:1 gear ratio. Top speed vs. acceleration can be traded off by choosing any of 10 different ratios from 2.92:1 giving a top speed of 172 MPH to 5:1 which would give a top speed of 100 MPH. The 5:1 would give phenomenal acceleration if you could get enough traction.