George Clooney, with his restraint and good taste, once bought a Tango, an electric vehicle that looks like it had been crushed by a brick wall in a Metro-Goldwyn Mayer cartoon. The Tango was impossibly slim, sat two bag-wearing fools bobsled-style, and had enough torque to render videos of its acceleration with an air of video fakery—and other than the fleeting celebrity connection, as celebrity connections usually are, it was all but forgotten. Who knows what Clooney, when he’s not busy getting arrested for acts of social justice, would make of the Zagato Volpe, a similarly-Photoshopped electric vehicle that features the backing of a famed Italian design house but not the backing of a famed actor who merely vacations in Italy.
The Volpe shares the same narrow footprint as the Tango: At one meter wide, Zagato saw fit to demonstrate it inside the SKY Television Offices in Milan. Gull-wing doors enable it to park perpendicularly on the street, a city car cliché since the original Smart was introduced in 1998. The Volpe—which means “fox” in Italian—was penned by the same fellow who designed the Bugatti EB110 and the Lotus Elise, two impossibly sleek examples of the sports car genre. It seems like a stretch, but we imagine that he drew the Volpe before shrinking it like a squashed car caricature. Zagato claims that the Volpe has modern safety standards, high comfort, and like Pinocchio, it’s a ”real car!”
There will be two models of the Volpe: an electric-only version with roof-mounted solar panels and a range of 43 miles; and a model with a gasoline or natural gas generator that extends the range by 236 miles. Both won’t be fast. The electric version will top out at 30 miles per hour, while the hybrid model still struggles to reach highway speeds, at 50 miles per hour. Don’t think of this as an electric car, but rather a scooter for wimps.
In 2013 the Volpe will go on sale for approximately $9,000 in Italy, a shade below the $108,000 that the Tango retailed for. George Clooney rides a motorcycle now; some kind of big, loud Harley that seems entirely unexpected but sensible at the same time around his vacation home in Lake Como. Will another impossibly narrow electric car be on his radar again? If he ever needs to boost his green credentials, then at 10 percent of the price he could afford to buy a couple for his fleet.