Th!nk Electric Carmaker Coming to U.S.

Th!nk, the Norwegian electric carmaker, secured funding from two U.S. venture capital firms to bring its business to North America. The financial backing—from Silicon Valley-based Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Boston-based Rockport Capital Partners—will allow Th!nk to set up shop in Menlo Park, California under the banner Th!nk North America. The company’s first production car will be the Th!nk City, a small all-electric vehicle capable of reaching 65 miles per hour and traveling up to 110 miles on a single charge.

Richard Blundell, vice president of International Business Development, told, “Th!nk established this joint venture in the U.S. for the assembly, distribution, retailing, and service of Think EVs.” Blundell added, “It will be entirely up to this new entity to establish pricing, market launch timing, and retailing strategy.”

The Th!nk City is designed to meet all U.S. federal motor vehicle safety requirements, including being equipped with ABS and dual front airbags. The company intends to launch the vehicle sometime in 2009, with a price below $25,000. “The transportation industry is undergoing its largest transformation since Henry Ford built the model T,” Ray Lane, a Kleiner Perkins Managing Partner and Chairman of TH!NK North America. “Today we are witnessing a seminal event—the first highway-capable electric vehicle intended for mass production, representing a big step towards a zero emission transportation industry.”

Th!nk also may use a battery leasing program similar to one it uses in Europe. Under the program, the automaker owns and maintains the battery, and the customer pays a monthly fee for the battery along with electricity and insurance.

The funding comes at a time when venture capitalists are eager to invest in green car technologies—despite the significant risks and problems encountered by new companies trying to offer an affordable and practical all-electric vehicle. So far, hype about new vehicles, technologies, and fuels have produced negligible results in the marketplace.

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  • TD

    Sounds like a winner. Would be nice if it could go at least 80 mph since 65 is probably a little slow for a lot of freeways in the US.

  • Skeptic

    I thought Th!nks were real, but I see that you can’t actually buy one, in the US or in Norway.

    Vaporware, Norwegian style!

    Too, bad, because 60 mph max and 120 mi range would be PERFECT for my commute.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    There were actually a lot of Th!nks on the road in California in the late ’90’s at the same time as I had my EV1. Instead of crushing them, Ford (who owned Th!nk) at the time was shamed into sending them back to Norway where they were built. Most of the 1st generation are still on the road in Norway and, as the article states, they’re working on the 2nd generation.
    I’m not a fan since they perpetuate the myth that EVs are wimpy golf carts but I do believe they are real.

  • Jay Rubin

    Hmmm. We’ll see. I am the only owner-driver of an ALL-ELECRRTIC car in Baltimore City; a Kurrent. I love my No Gas/No Oil car.

    best, Jay
    Baltimore City

  • Anonymous

    I want to have it in Poland!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I am looking forward to be able to buy such car in Europe where we pay about 9 $ for a galoon. I hope it is going to end.!!!!

  • Robocoastie Me

    these kind of cars are not designed for freeways or highways and probably never will work for them. What WOULD work as an electric car though is as a second vehicle for grocery shopping, taking kids to soccer practice and other around town trips under 45 mph.

    My question though is, since town driving has a LOT of stop and go (which kills mpg for “normal” cars) does that drastically reduce the length of the charge time? How about heat and air conditioning – how much charge does that reduce? Then there’s the re-chargeable battery/memory problem, has that ever been solved?

  • MilwaukeeT

    You have to assume the 65 mph top speed and 110 mile range are too high. IMO just like cell phones and computers you’ll have to knock off 10-20% for real world use. Even a 55 mph max and 85 mile range would do me just fine.

    Too bad a US maker didn’t come up with this!

  • Cindy

    I would seriously consider buying this car-since I drive in the city.I like the idea of leasing the batteries instead of buying them.
    I would like to know if the car would be available with air-conditioning,need it here in South Carolina!

  • petty

    Gasoline-electric hybrids now, like Toyota’s popular Prius, don’t need to plug in — you just fill their tanks with gasoline and the battery keeps charged by the internal combustion engine. That’s one of the best feature we need. Check for more info at blog.

  • Halo9x

    Petty, I agree. Gasoline is here to stay for the foreseeable future and the Prius and similar cars are the only affordable and realistic option. Why spend $25,000 for a car that is small, can only go 110 miles at a top speed of 65 when you can have a Prius that has a range of 600 miles and a top speed of 130 mph (potential proven by Toyota at the Bonneville Salt Flats) for that same $25,000??? I have driven mine for over a year and I enjoy it now as much as I did driving it home for the first time. I routinely get between 44 to 46 mpg in mixed driving and have gotten up to 59.5 on the highway! I’ve owned a lot of cars and not one of them compares with owning this one.
    I would also like to mention that the “SMART4TWO” is not so smart. My wife’s YARIS Liftback routinely gets 33-35 mpg and has more room then the SMART car. Its also faster and cheaper but not cheaply made.

  • Anonymous

    Driving 65 is totally acceptable since that is the speed limit, my VW diesel golf goes safely around that and along as I don’t try to stay in the fast line and don’t mind getting passed I can easily get around.

  • Anonymous