CommuterCars builds the only car in the world that can fit in half of a freeway lane with more clearance than a truck has in a full lane. This potentially increases lane capacity from 2,000 cars per hour to 4.400 cars per hour. The idea came to founder Rick Woodbury when he was driving a Porsche in LA traffic and noticed that 90% of the cars had only a single occupant, yet took up a whole lane. A car the size of a motorcycle could double lane capacity and get rid of traffic jams. Rick believes that although no one wants to hear it, there is no direct competition to the Tango. They have a global patent on a ballasted narrow vehicle. The Toyota iRoad is the only other available narrow vehicle, but as it uses tilting technology, it has inherent safety issues that will keep it off of the freeways forever, relegated to quadracycles, and if it is ever imported to the US, limited to 25 mph. The Tango by contrast can go 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds. It weighs 3,326 lbs, has 4 times more impact protection bars than a Volvo, and the same rollover threshold as a 911 Porsche. This makes it a blast to drive, especially on windy roads and in traffic jams where it can lanesplit like a motorcycle without the danger.
The biggest issue that CommuterCars faced in starting up was capital – It takes $50M to get the volume to 2,500 per year at a sales price of $44k; $150M to get a volume of 15,000 per year at a sales price of $29k,and about $2-billion to build 100k per year at $10 per car plus $5k to $20k for batteries that could go from 60 miles to 240 miles respectively. Better yet, the battery could be rented directly from manufacturers and paid for on a monthly basis, much like your gasoline bill. The electricity and battery usage would still be less than the cost of gasoline, as long as the range purchased is not much more than double the average commute. Rick believes that the Tango can solve infrastructure problems whether in terms of constructing larger freeways, tunnels, bridges, and so on, or whether competing with rail. For example the Boston Big Dig was $20-billion over 20 years to move 130k cars per day across and back. You could give away 100,000 Tangos for $2-billion and build them in 2 years and not only solve the congestion problem that the Big Dig was supposed to solve, but also parking and traffic congestion problems throughout the city of Boston. Out of 140-million commuters in the US, 106-million are single-occupant drivers using the wrong tool for the job, just like a carpenter using a sledge hammer to pound in finish nails.
Depending on the amount of investment, and whether the Tango is adopted into a car share program like Car2Go in Auckland, New Zealand or any city or country, CommuterCars can start with $5M or if a large partner is awake enough to see the potential, $2-billion. As former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire predicted, Commuter Cars could become the largest car manufacturer in the US, for totally logical reasons. Eventually CommuterCars will target all single occupant commuters, of whom Rick believes half will drive Tangos someday. That is roughly 150-million vehicles worldwide. CommuterCars Corp has a business plan, but just like Steve Jobs’ 7 disruptions, there is no way to do a market analysis, as you have to have his kind of vision to see what people want before they want it. So, a very special and enlightened VC will be required, or a very wealthy individual that sees the potential and wants to solve the world’s traffic congestion problem.