The ‘World’s Safest Car’ Is the Size of a Motorcycle and Costs $300,000

Electric vehicles (EVs) are correcting their reputations for safety issues. Early on, dangerous problems like thermal runaway seemed like they would kill the EV before it started. However, cars like the Tesla Model 3 have industry-leading crashworthiness scores and active crash prevention suites. Still, the self-proclaimed “world’s safest car” from Commuter Cars is a challenge to what you think safety looks like; the Tango T600 EV is a tiny, safety-oriented car with a wild and crazy price tag. 

What is a Tango car?

The Tango T600 is a battery electric vehicle (BEV) from the boutique automaker Commuter Cars. The diminutive Tango EV reached the hands of actor George Clooney in 2005 in its first delivery. However, the car that the company calls “the world’s safest” car never took off, and the EV is rare today. Part of the reason the miniature electric car is so rare is its price tag; the wee EV costs around $300,000. 

However, the company hasn’t been up to much lately. The little EV was featured in an early episode of the HBO show, Silicon Valley. However, Car and Driver gave the company a 1.1 out of 10.0 chance of survival as of 2018. In fact, Rick Woodbury, the president of Commuter Cars, said, “we very much still exist” of his company.  

Are EVs safe in a crash?

EVs like the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y are safe in crashes. Due to even lower centers of gravity than some the safest conventional cars and, in some cases, reinforcements where internal combustion components would have been, these EVs protect occupants in the event of an impact and resist rollovers. Moreover, issues like thermal runaway, where batteries become near-inextinguishable fires, are rarer due to engineering achievements like the strategic placement of batteries and insulation. 

However, Commuter Cars bills the seemingly silly Tango T600 as one of the “world’s safest cars.” Still, the tiny vehicle does pack some unorthodox yet effective safety features. For instance, the weight distribution of the T600 places 2,200 lbs of battery architecture “under the floor,” which results in a difficult-to-topple Tango. In fact, the automaker claims the Tango requires 56 degrees of lean to tip. Also, the Tango T600 incorporates a full roll cage, just like those in racecars. 

The Tango T600 EV like these cars is billed as the 'world's safest car' by the automaker that designed them.
Tango T600 | Commuter Cars

What determines how safe a car is?

Safety scores are dictated by agencies like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For instance, the IIHS will score a vehicle based on crashworthiness categories like frontal and side impacts. Moreover, the IIHS scores vehicles based on passive crash avoidance and mitigation. Furthermore, the agency gives out Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ ratings based on scores. 

The Tango T600 EV is a rare car because the company never took off, but they believed this EV was the world's safest car.
Tango T600 | Commuter Cars
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards star ratings instead of the IIHS’ ratings like “Good” and “Poor” to evaluate the safest cars on the market. While EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 earned top safety ratings from the IIHS, NHTSA, or both, the Tango T600 hasn’t been evaluated by the larger agencies. That’s understandable, given the boutique operation’s size compared to companies like Hyundai and Tesla. 

What do you think of tiny EVs? Tell us in the comments below!