March 24, 2008 For all the talk about electric cars, the first mass-produced electric vehicle is still to grace a showroom. The first such general consumption electric auto to reach UK motorists will be the Norwegian TH!NK city EV which goes on sale during the last quarter of this year. Revealed at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, the TH!NK city is a two-seater with a top speed of 65 mph, a zero to 30 mph time of just 6.5 seconds and it’ll reach 50 mph in 16 seconds – perfectly respectable ‘round town performance at legal speeds, and it’ll run another 124 miles after an overnight ten hour charge from any domestic power outlet. The ROI is amazing as total running costs for 10,000 miles in the UKP14,000 vehicle will be the extra UKP125 on your electric bill. Movie here, PDF brochure here.
The production of Think's new electric car the TH!NK city began in November. Production takes place in Thinks Norwegian factory outside Oslo, and in 2008, the factory will reach a full production capacity, equivalent to 3500 cars per shift. The factory has capacity for double shifts.
TH!NK city is 95 percent recyclable, and is designed to meet the strict safety requirements of both Europe and the US, as a highway-safe road car. The car is equipped with ABS brakes, airbags and three-point safety belts with pretensioners and it meets all European and US requirements with good margins.
“Unlike the lower-range, electric quadricycles that have had limited success in the UK, TH!NK city is a real car which provides a realistic option for those motorists who want to drive a true zero emissions car,” said Richard Blundell, Managing Director of Think UK.
“Also, concern for the environment has been at the heart of the development of TH!NK city. It’s not only environmentally sound to drive, but the car itself is designed to be recycled,” he added.
Engineers, developers, buyers and designers in the company have focused on utilising clean recyclable materials, non-polluting production processes. The dashboard can be completely recycled. The fabric, body, supports, air ducts, adhesives and fixings are designed using the same recyclable materials.
TH!NK city’s body is made of recyclable ABS plastic, designed specifically for city driving. Not only is it ideal for motorists want to avoid visible scratches and irritating dents, the unpainted plastic bodywork also reduces both energy consumption and toxins, while also making the panels easier to recycle. The batteries are returned to the supplier at the end of their useable life.
Standard equipment on each TH!NK city includes power steering, central locking, a 4kW electric heater, and electric windows and mirrors. Optional equipment will include air conditioning, a pre-heat timer, electrically heated windscreen, full length sunroof, Radio CD with MP3, USB, Bluetooth, a navigation & multimedia system, alloy wheels, roof rack and 2 + 2 children seats (including 3-point seat belts)
Production started last autumn, and the first batch of cars will be delivered to Norwegian customers this spring with orders for UK cars being taken in the last quarter of this year. The expected retail price of TH!NK city is UKP14,000.
Think has been developing and producing urban mobility solutions since the early 1990s. Major investments made during the Ford ownership period contributed to an important infrastructural upgrade. New investors are now grooming Think as “The Car Company of the 21st Century.”
The first prototype predecessor to today’s modern TH!NK city was developed in 1991. Drawing on 17 years of experience in electric vehicle development and production, Think is not a typical car industry start-up. TH!NK city was put in serial production in 1999, supported by American car giant Ford.
Ford became a major shareholder and invested USD 150 million in Think during its four years as an owner. When Ford decided to leave the electric vehicle sector in 2003, Think was sold out of the car manufacturing group. Though struggling to survive, Think has always retained the basic infrastructure and acquired considerable competence from its American owners.
During recent years, a wave of environmentalist conscience and climate change awareness has ripened the market for alternative mobility solutions. In 2006, Norwegian investors bought Think, and an experienced management team entered the scene. Both new and former staff members were added to the team, and a new strategy was outlined for the company. Further share issues during 2007 have prepared Think to go into regular serial production of the 5th generation TH!NK city. The car company of the 21st century is on the road.
“We are the car company of the 21st century. We develop zero emission vehicles and sustainable solutions and we are proud to be launching TH!NK city in new markets in 2008 and 2009, something that shows that the demand for sustainable solutions and zero emission vehicles is greater than ever before,” says Jan-Olaf Willums, CEO of Think Global.
Think has entered into collaboration with Porsche Consulting, to bring Porsche’s experience in lean manufacturing to the Think factory at Aurskog, Norway.
The goal is to enhance the flow of production in the factory, and to ensure that the cars are being produced more efficiently and with the highest quality standards. The Porsche factory is the most profitable factory in Europe.
The TH!NK city is the first production car, but an open version, the “TH!NK open” is probably not far behind the enclosed model. The marketing appears in many ways to be quite similar to that of Mercedes-owned smart, and like smart, a droptop model was an easy and logical next move.
Imagine driving on a warm summer night with the wind blowing through your hair and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature – the TH!NK open will offer an entirely new automotive experience with its stillness. The cool design and electric drive train will attract attention without making a noise. The TH!NK open is based on the TH!NK city and has the same technical specifications and comfort and convenience features.
The TH!NK open is highly connected and offers GPS navigation, web, e-mail and open interfaces.
The TH!NK Ox is a concept but will no doubt form Stage Two of the company’s product development, as it takes advantage of a larger electric vehicle platform that can be applied to a variety of body styles. Just one of a number of possible guises for the easily-adaptable electric car layout, the TH!NK Ox is a Crossover five-seater.
The TH!NK Ox platform for electric drive vehicles will likely see different body styles developed specifically for each of the European, North American and Asian markets. This is possible due to a space frame concept featuring the main crash structure and the batteries centrally placed in two compartments in the lower frame.
The TH!NK Ox images in this article’s picture gallery shows an MPV version and a coupé version. The MPV version is suggested as a taxi with a larger luggage space compartment. The MPV version is designed for easy entry and exit, and a spacious and easy access luggage trunk. The coupé and sports versions have a larger battery capacity for higher performance.
The TH!NK Ox Platform design allows for two different battery packs; a high stack (which takes two battery compartments, and with more space, allows use of low cost, high range sodium batteries) and a low stack (uses flat Li Ion packs for flat and low body shapes.