Jul
31
2007

Think Global's electric car, "City"

Think Global: photo: KnutBry/TinAgent/Think Technology
Think Global: photo: KnutBry/TinAgent/Think Technology
Think an electric car has a chance in todays market? In the 1990s General Motors spent nearly $1 billion on their EV1. Ford pumped about $150 million into an electric car known as "Think" but sold it 5 years later. As Think was in bankruptcy, Norwegian entrepreneur, Willums, picked up Think, its factory, and Ford's nearly completed design for a new-model "City" for the fire-sale price of about $15 million. His company, Think Global, has raised $60 million in funding to roll out a new and improved version of the City this fall.

$43 million battery deal with Tesla Motors

Willums, whos experience is in solar panels, went to a brainstorming session at the Googlplex in California. Google billionaires, Sergy Brin and Larry Page, had test driven earlier versions of the Think. They are also major investors of another electric car, the Tesla. Tesla will sell customized batteries to Think Global. The group also came up with these radical ideas:

  • Sell the car on the internet.
  • Never build a car before it's paid for.
  • No car showrooms or sales force.
  • Sell the car but lease the batteries.
  • Every car will be Internet and Wi-Fi enabled.
  • Components will be open sourced modules.
  • Assemble cars locally (no exporting).
  • Use the car's batteries to feed the electric grid during power shortages.
  • Car sharing companies like Zipcar and Flexcar allow trying before buying.

Batteries are separate.

By taking out the cost of the battery ($34,000) the "City" car will only cost from $15,000 - $17,000 in the United States. A "mobility fee" of $100 to $200 a month that might also include services like insurance and wireless Internet access seems to be part of the business plan. Managing a two way exchange of electricity with the electric grid is another possibility. Thousands of cars plugged into the electric grid could be tapped during energy demand spikes. PG&E plans to buy batteries that have outlived their usefulness for transportation but still retain capacity. The utility will install them in the basements of office towers and at electrical substations to store green energy produced by wind farms and solar arrays.

"Open source" modular assembly.

Willums car assembly plan resembles how Dell builds computers.

"He points to the black steel chassis of a City standing on a nearby pallet; it's shipped preassembled from Thailand. At one station, workers attach the car's aluminum frame -- made in Denmark -- and drop in a French motor. At another station, prefabricated rust-and dent-resistant polymer-plastic body panels produced in Turkey are hung on the frame of a nearly completed car."

Parts will be shipped for assembly near purchase points (like New York or California). The "Think" will do 70 mph and will have a range of 110 miles.

Update: "TH!NK GLOBAL" forum website link.

Source: CNNmoney.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

I really like this idea. I am especially intrigued by the innovative approach used toward sourcing parts and materials for the cars. So many manufacturing initiatives loose all green cred' when they have to ship their parts and good all over the world, thereby burning tons of fuels and wasting energy. I hope their distributed system works.

posted on Wed, 08/01/2007 - 12:19pm
Hugh Freebairn's picture
Hugh Freebairn says:

If you want to see even more exciting EV stuff check out the website of the UK company PML flightlink. They've developed a car with the electric motors built into the wheels and one of their customers is the UK car company called Lightning car Co. which is developing an EV that will outperform a gasoline sports car using hot new batteries from Reno Nevada based Altair Nanotechnologies.

posted on Fri, 08/03/2007 - 4:46am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Thanks. Here is a link to the Lightning Car Company. The Lightning comes with an initial price estimate of roughly $300,000.

posted on Fri, 08/03/2007 - 3:46pm
ray's picture
ray says:

wow!!! the future is here right before our very eyes. these newly designed electric cars are too cool. especially the one from "think". by the way Dean Kaman is also involved with his "sterling engine" that will increase the miles per charge significanly with no pollution factor. and with the new battery configurations and potential the future looks very bright. and why was'nt the U.S. and our auto manufactureres making these cars years and years ago??? just asking. the oil companies?

posted on Mon, 08/13/2007 - 8:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I can't wait to own one! or two....how can I get involved in the dist. or maintainance of these "clean cars". Please count me in. Penelope in Santa Monica, CA

posted on Tue, 08/14/2007 - 5:37pm
RAY's picture
RAY says:

This is my second post ...thanks for allowing me. Everytime that i take another look at this "coolest" car iam inclined to comment again. sure wished there were more pics. and detail. we need an update. no doubt about it ...this is the future for commuter cars. sure wished i had one now. thank you, Ray in Venice, CA

posted on Mon, 09/03/2007 - 5:18pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

I appreciate your enthusiasm. For more info be sure to visit the "Think Global" website. They have lots of links to blogs, forums, brainstorming sessions, etc.

posted on Tue, 09/04/2007 - 8:09am
John Ancona's picture
John Ancona says:

When can I buy one to use in Illinois

posted on Thu, 09/06/2007 - 11:24pm
david moxness's picture
david moxness says:

Have not heard anything on when the first deliveries of the car are expected.

posted on Fri, 10/05/2007 - 5:12pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

The first "TH!NK" electric vehicles are expected this fall. en.think.no

Thinks financial base enables us to start the production of the new TH!NK city model within the fall of 2007. The estimated production in Aurskog is said to reach 250 cars a month within one year.

posted on Sat, 10/06/2007 - 11:10am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Batteries to power the TH!NK electric car will determine how fast this car gets to market. Capricorn Investment Group wants to be a player on the batteries part of the equation. Green wombat has this interview with their co-founder, Yadigaroglu.

posted on Sat, 10/06/2007 - 11:21am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thanks for this website Art....you are to be commended. There are many, many potential, major corners just waiting to be put to use for this car. Where has America been for the past twenty years?????? Count me in!!! I can't wait. West Coast Dude........the future is now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:42pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

The Zenn electric car company in Canada is having some difficulty. I mentioned them in my Buzz blog post about ultracapacitors. Click on this to watch a video on "who is killing the electric car in Canada"?

posted on Wed, 10/31/2007 - 8:57am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hello again Art, and no doubt you heard about the latest lithium-ion battery deal with ...just google ENEI. this company is listed "over the counter" and at the time of this writing the share price is up from two days ago ....39-68 cents per. Just check them out, you'll see that they will be a "major player" in the future of electric cars, fuel cell, and nano technologies. GOOD DAY.... ray in venice, ca

posted on Thu, 11/15/2007 - 8:51pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Thanks for the tip, Ray.
I just did a Google search for Tesla Energy Group and discovered they won't be supplying batteries this year. Tesla puts it's Energy Group on hold, about a month ago I think. Th!nk Global is expanding their battery options.

They have apparently struck a deal with EnerDel for a supply of batteries and they are talking to A123 as well. Porsche is also helping out the Norwegians with quality assurance and logistics issues as they attempt to begin customer deliveries by March of 2008.

A blogger called blog.a6r.com has more information about what is happening with the Th!nk EV. Check comments in these links for updated news or corrections, too.

posted on Wed, 11/28/2007 - 8:53pm
tdg's picture
tdg says:

I'm not sure of the small size. Nothing more than a golf cart with a little more speed. A crash at only 35mph with one of the millions of larger cars will kill you quickly. i guess you still achieve your goal of reducing your carbon foot print because you will be 6 feet under.

i don't think the average new parent with all the safety sensitivity such as helmits on tricycles and germophobe hand cleaning will want to put their kid op against a 2000lb bullet traveling at 20mph at a school zone. No amount of air bags will protect you and who knows what all the flying batteries will do to you as you are rolling over and over.

My life is worth way more than saving a couple gallons of gas per day

Good luck

tom

posted on Mon, 04/21/2008 - 12:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My 1990 Geo Metro (1.0 liter 5spd man.) gets 50 mpg. It cost me $2000 and saves me enough money every month to pay for itself in about 6 months - due to my 200 mile/day commute.

I love to see the progress toward electric cars, but have to wonder why you can't go out and buy a NEW and efficient, inexpensive low-tech car like the Metro from any car company today here in the USA. There are alot of long-distance commuters like myself who would buy one it it were on the market. If you can buy a new Chevy Aveo for $8.5K, (which you can) then why not the same car with a 1.0 liter engine and the mileage performance of a Metro. Better yet, why not a modernized version of a Metro, with even more aerodynamic shaping, and perhaps a 750cc turbo-diesel? Cars like this could have been on the market for the last few years, and their collective efficiency would lower gas prices for everyone. But NO. There is some unwritten law somewhere that forbids American drivers from escaping the financial bloodletting.

Anyway, if you do not have $20K for a hybrid, find a Geo Metro with the small engine (and stick transmission if you can drive one) and start saving some money right now.

posted on Sun, 04/27/2008 - 11:47am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Well said. I, too, have been driving a 1 liter Geo Metro since 1993. My current Metro is a 1997 and I bought it for under $3K when it had 41k miles on it.

posted on Sun, 04/27/2008 - 4:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I was seriously thinking about getting one but there's a lot of conflicting information. I've heard the car will cost 25k or 15-17k. Plus the leasing of the batteries is a TOTAL turnoff. For 15k and 200/month in battery and service costs i may still consider it. But if they want 25k and then 200/month for batteries, forget it. I'll get a Prius.

posted on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 12:31pm
Dejan Fundak's picture
Dejan Fundak says:

I support TH!NK, it was already time to start producing an enviroment friendly cars. Only thing that may be a problem is the price, not just of car, but even leasing the batteries. Let's TH!NK about the people that can't afford this wehicle (most of the people in Africa, south America, central Asia, eastern Europe), they will use an old cars and nothing will change in that regions of the world. It is the question if this cars are invented to save the planet and reduce global warming or to fill-up someone's pocket. Try to TH!NK more about ecology and less about economy.

posted on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 5:09pm
Porsche Parts's picture

Indeed, the idea is brilliant and I am sure that it will have a lot of success, especially now when we are dealing with a lot of problems from the point of view of the environment. Maybe, this way the global warming process will be reduced.

posted on Thu, 11/13/2008 - 4:36pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

U.S. production of the Think City is expected to start in 2010, with the first-year volume of 2,500 units being available to pilot and demonstration fleet projects.

The company is currently in discussions with eight states, including Michigan and California, hoping to host the facility, which will initially employ about 300 workers with a starting capacity of 16,000 cars per year. The Car Tech Blog

posted on Sat, 03/21/2009 - 1:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

battery cars are great but not as good as gas powered because of hp issues

posted on Wed, 06/01/2011 - 3:19am

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