Stories tagged Willums


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.