Think City, electric car


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>> Update: Think City: An Affordable Electric Car you Won’t See Until 2010

While we love hearing about sweet rides like the $100K Tesla Roadster, a functional and economical electric car made for the rest of us would be even cooler.

This could be it: the Th!nk City electric car, a four-seater with 110 mile range and top speed of 65 mph, priced under $25,000, made from 95% recyclable materials, and available in the U.S. in 2009.

The Th!nk City electric car is the product of Norwegian firm Th!nk Global, an auto manufacturer backed by Silicon Valley funding who has plans to assemble the cars in Southern California. In contrast to Tesla’s limited release of 300 cars per year, the Th!nk City is designed for mass production to the tune of 30-50,000 units within a few years. Th!nk already produces about 10,000 of these cars in Europe annually.

As an interesting aside, Ford Motor Company originally developed the vehicle, but (in a move they may soon regret), sold it to Norwegian investors in 2003. Why is it so cool? Because most of us don’t drive more than 40 miles in a day, and small electric cars are optimally suited for congested city driving. The benefits are pretty obvious, but if you’re worried about getting out for the weekend with the Th!nk City, don’t. Use it for city driving and keep that gas-guzzling SUV for forays into the mountains. You’ll still come out ahead.

Safety-wise, the Th!nk City meets the strict safety requirements of both Europe and the US as a highway-safe road car. ABS brakes, airbags, side-impact bars, and an advanced frame designed to absorb energy and distribute it away from the passenger’s compartment make it another blow to the myth that bigger cars are inherently safer.

If recent sales trends toward smaller vehicles are any indication (sales of Toyota Yaris up 70%), the Th!ink city could be very popular when released in the US.

Check out a few more pictures (below), and learn more from Th!nk’s website.

Addendum: Are plug-in electric vehicles a perfect answer to our transportation problems? I think you’ll see from the comments below that no, they aren’t. As one reader pointed out, dead batteries in the Th!nk City could take up to 10 hours to charge. That’s not only inconvenient, but putting 50,000 of these on the road could cause serious power draw (see Plug-In Hybrids Could Require 160 New Power Plants By 2030 (Or None At All and Plug-In Hybrids Use Over 17 Times More Water Than Regular Cars, Researchers Say). Since such a large portion of US power generation comes from coal, the increasing use of plug-in hybrid and electric cars will require serious consideration of other energy sources (for example, see How Solar Panels Could Power 90% of US Transportation).

My recommendation: Get yourself a plug-in hybrid as soon as they become available and then put solar panels on your roof through a community solar purchasing program.

Updates [1/28/2009]:

More Photos of the TH!NK City:

Related Posts on Electric Cars:

[Via: Associated Press]

Photo Credits: Th!nk