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Think Global Gets Investment from GE, Launches TH!NK City, Introduces New Crossover EV Concept and Signs Li-Ion Supply Deal with A123Systems

Thinkcity
The TH!NK City.

At the Geneva Motor Show, Norwegian electric car manufacturer Think Global presented a new investment relationship with GE, which is putting $4 million into Think via GE Energy Financial Services to further ramp up GE’s efforts to enable global electrification of transportation.

Think also launched its TH!NK City electric vehicle, unveiled a five-seat crossover concept car—the TH!NK Ox—and announced a commercial supply agreement with lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123Systems. The TH!NK City now offers a choice of three battery packs: a 28 kWh Zebra sodium nickel chloride pack, a 26 kWh Li-ion pack from Enerdel and a 19 kWh Li-ion pack from A123Systems.

GE Energy Financial Services announced it has also invested in A123Systems to help the company roll out batteries for Think. GE is now A123’s largest single cash investor, having put more than $20 million into the company.

The GE Global Research Center has been working with A123 on the development of safe and reliable battery-powered transportation, and this has allowed us to accelerate delivery of advanced battery solutions to Think. Our newest collaboration with Think helps us achieve the large-scale production of batteries and integrate them into commercially available electric vehicles.

—David Vieau, A123Systems’ President and CEO

A123 is now drawing on the research and technology development expertise of GE Global Research in Niskayuna, New York. The joint research will support A123’s battery development, including batteries for Think’s vehicles.

The TH!NK City. The reborn TH!NK City is a three-door, two-seat (two additional rear seats are available as an option) electric vehicle powered by a 30 kW electric motor and a choice of the three battery packs.

Top speed for the vehicle is 100 kph (62 mph). It accelerates from 0-50 kph (31 mph) in 6.5 seconds, and from 0 - 80 kph (50 mph) in 16.0 seconds. Range, which varies with battery pack, is from 130 to 180 kilometers.

TH!NK city will feature a “Mind Box”—a small computer containing both GPS and GPRS functionality. The system transmits state of charge and other vehicle statistics directly to a mobile phone or personal computer. The Mind Box will give the driver direct connection to a customer service function, and will automatically call for assistance when an airbag is deployed. Fleet managers are able to both locate and control the charge rate for all fleet vehicles.

TH!NK City Battery Options
SupplierMes-DeaA123SystemsEnerDel
Type Sodium nickel chloride (Zebra) Li-ion
(doped Nanophosphate)
Li-ion
(layered manganese oxide)
Capacity (kWh) 28 19 26
Storage System Density (Wh/kg) 114.3 73.1 100
Range (km/miles) 170/106 130/81 180/112
Nominal Voltage (V) 370 370 370
Weight (kg) 245 260 260

Think Global will own and maintain the battery. The customer pays a monthly fee—approximately €200 (US$305)—which includes a full maintenance service agreement, carbon offset payments and, in some countries, all electricity used, and insurance. Think will exchange the battery when necessary.

Sales begin this spring initially in Norway, followed by Denmark and Sweden later in the year. As production volume ramps up, Think Global will target the main European cities in 2009, starting with London, Paris, Berlin, Milan and Amsterdam. The car will be sold for approximately €20,000 (US$30,500).

Thinkox
The TH!NK Ox.

TH!NK Ox. The TH!NK Ox Crossover is an electric five-seat car close to the size of a sport utility vehicle but lighter and more aerodynamic. The Ox is a platform concept, designed for electric drive vehicles, for both the European, North American and Asian markets. It is the basis for a variety of vehicle styles, starting with the TH!NK Ox Crossover 5-seater.

A space frame concept features the main crash structure and the batteries centrally placed in two compartments in the lower frame. The TH!NK Ox Platform design allows two different standards of battery packs:

  • High stack: two compartments, allows use of low cost, high range sodium batteries;

  • Low stack: gives space for flat Li-ion packs, allows lower/upper frame for sports car and flat flow applications.

The crossover is designed to use a 60 kW motor and a range of 200 km (124 miles) with a top speed of 135 kph (84 mph).

GE announced its electric transportation investments at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference in Washington, DC. The investments were made by GE Energy Financial Services’ recently expanded seven-member venture capital group, with offices in Stamford, CT; San Francisco, CA; and Munich, Germany. That group has invested nearly US $100 million in 12 companies during the last 18 months.

GE’s electric transportation research includes a US$5.6 million US Energy Department contract to develop smaller, lower cost, higher performing hybrid drivetrain motors for hybrid electric vehicles. In addition, GE is working on a US$1.2 million project to develop advanced high temperature, high energy density capacitors. GE researchers are also engaged in a US$13 million project with the US Federal Transit Administration and other industrial partners to build a prototype lightweight, battery-dominant zero emissions hybrid fuel cell bus.

Comments

Henrik

Now this is genuine green car news. When Think car announced they selected Enerdel (an inexperienced startup) I was really worried that they would ever be able to get the batteries they need to produce 10000 a year by 2009 or 2010. Now that they also got A123 I guess that this issue is not going to be a problem anymore. Think is really innovative in a lot of car related issues just like Apple is in their business and I hope that they will be just as successful. Finally, a highway capable car has arrived that is zero emission and completely independent of energy from various dictatorships around the world.

Rafael Seidl

Ok, EUR 20000 + 2400/yr * 10yrs = EUR 44000. Assume this is in a country in which this cost includes the electricity.

A similarly small car with an ICE, like the Citroen C1 1.0L, costs around EUR 10000, is exempt from London's congestion charge and consumes around 5.5L/100km in city traffic. Assuming its a commute car racking up 10000km/yr, that's 550L of gasoline at ~EUR 1.40/L = ~EUR 770/yr in fuel cost. Add to that the expected cost of maintenance for 10 years, e.g. ~EUR 4000. Total EUR 21700.

That means the Think City costs roughly twice to own as a Citroen C1, even before insurance.

drivin98

If they put their new Ox concept on the road it'll be even bigger genuine green car news.
http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/03/04/geneva-08-th-nk-announces-the-ox-a-new-5-seat-electric-car/
This thing's sweet!!!

Zebra batteries:

When not in use, zebra batteries typically require being left under charge, in order to be ready for use when needed. If shut down, a reheating process must be initiated that may require up to two days to restore the battery pack to the desired temperature, and full charge. This reheating time will however vary depending on the state-of-charge of the batteries at the time of their shut down, battery-pack temperature, and power available for reheating. After a full shut down of the battery pack, three to four days usually elapse before a fully-charged battery pack loses all of its significant heat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_battery

Herm

Very interesting on the Zebra batteries.. this car seems like a good idea.. The $300 a month fee they mention is just for the battery or it also includes the car, insurance and so on?

How much does a Zebra battery of that size cost?

Rafael Seidl

@ Herm -

the Zebra batteries are rugged and work well even in cold climates, but power/kg is only about half that of Li-ion systems.

Louis Palmer, a Swiss adventurer currently on a round-the-world expedition with his Solar Taxi, gives a price tag of EUR 8000 retail for the 14kWh pack he's using.

http://www.solartaxi.com/technology/zebra-battery/

The Think City has a pack twice that size, so over a 10 year period leasing rather than owning the battery pack will set you back an extra ~EUR 8000 - enough to buy a conventional small car.

The battery lease fee does not include vehicle insurance, license fees etc. It's not clear if it includes maintenance service for anything other than the battery system.

Nick

High price, low performance, limited range--I don't see it. I like the city car idea, but I think the price needs to be reduced by 1/2 or more before it could go mainstream as a dedicated in-city commute car, at least here in the USA. Perhaps the Norwegians are just a lot richer than we are.

Neil

I'm a little surprised by the high price of the car (30,000 $CD) given that the really expensive part of the car, the battery, is leased. The price of the base car should only be half of that.

Stefan Kaufmann

I am very happy to hear that the Think City is about to make its debut on the road. Finally a car which reduces our dependancy on oil. We have been waiting for this far too long! Think has also its own unofficial forum on http://www.ecocarforum.com since a few months!

andrew rose

this car has to cost no more than 12000 euro in Europe otherwise
its dead in the water , without the environmental aspect its pitched
at about the same price as the mini cooper , which one are you going
to buy ?

drivin98

Damn reality bites. $300 bucks a month for a battery payment on top of a car payment and an overly high car payment to boot. I really hope Mitsubishi makes their car affordable for normal people.

doggydogworld

A123 isn't really a good fit for this car. A123's claim to fame is power density and cycle life but BEV designs are driven by energy density and cost. The Think City's 30 kW motor can only use about 5% of the A123 pack's power.

Economic comparisons are a little silly. The Think is expensive due to limited production -- even without batteries it costs twice as much as Rafael's Citroen.

Harvey D

Car and batteries price depend a lot on where they are produced.

Norway-USA-Canada +++ may not be the ideal places to produce those vehicles & batteries.

Mass production cost could easily be cut by half if or when produced in China-India-Brazil, Eastern Europe etc.

High labour cost countries could do the R & D, design and protoytypes but leave mass production to others.

A Think would then cost about $20,000 (with batteries) and satisfy many more buyers.

Henrik

Rafael is right. The price of the Think City is twice that of a comparable ICE vehicle. However, the attraction of the Think City is that it is pollution free and its use doesn’t support suppressive regimes anywhere. This is what people that can afford the luxury of these ideas will pay extra for. Think Global is not marketing their vehicles as any other vehicles. Their name “Think” screams it out. Whether we may like it or not people who buy an emission free car like the Think City will fell more worthy and responsible than other people driving ordinary ICE cars. And many other people will judge them as exactly that. I know I will. People who have everything else in life love to spend money on stuff that can make them feel like that. This is why I believe Think City will make it in spite of its high price tag.

A suggestion to make the car more attractive is to use a larger motor that can take advantage of the super high power of the lithium batteries. The 30 kW motor I presume is designed for the lower power of the Zebra battery that was the only one available at the time of engineering. I don’t believe that Zebra battery will be favored by many because it consumes energy constantly just to be ready for use. This is OK for commercial vehicle use like the Smith vehicles but not for private use. They should drop that battery now to simplify their offering. It cost a lot to explain potential buyers the difference and the confusion will cause many customers to be lost. Just forget it and use a bigger motor.

Bob T

30,500 plus battery fee of 300 a month?
You are almost buying a Tesla.
Well maybe when GM starts mass production if that
EVER happens

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